Exploring Coffee Around the World: Japan

Coffee Around the World: Japan

For those traveling this spring or summer, we thought it would be fun to talk about coffee cultures. A fun way to immerse yourself in new places, coffee culture differs greatly around the globe. For example, in Japan, coffee shop culture incorporates a unique blend of both old and new traditions. One of the largest coffee consumers in the world, they have a rich history of experimenting with a wide range of coffee brewing techniques.

History of Coffee in Japan

Kissatens, art-deco style coffee shops focused on simplicity, began popping up around Japan in the late 19th century. While traditional cafes typically served alcohol and coffee, kissatens only served black coffee and tea, and were meant to be quiet gathering spaces. By the late 20th century, as trends began to shift towards convenience, larger scale coffee chains started opening up, as well as vending machines featuring canned coffee. In the 21st century, new brewing techniques such as hand brewed pour over coffee and Japanese-style iced drip coffee came into style, leading the way to the "third wave" style coffee movement.


3D Latte Art by Milk Foam Artist Kazuki Yamamoto

Coffee in Japan Today

The Japanese phrase "omakase" means "I leave the selection up to you," and is typically used for high-end sushi. However, Tokyo coffee shops have started adapting this phrase for coffee omakase experiences. Through them, a barista leads a curated coffee tasting, giving careful consideration to every detail. While these typically require reservations far in advance, they are well worth checking out if you visit Japan.

Another very popular trend is 3D latte art, such as the ones pictured above by artist Kazuki Yamamoto These fun, drinkable creations are created by sculpting milk foam with syrup used to add details. And lastly, top off your ultimate coffee experience at the Hakone Kowakien Yunessun Spa, where you can actually bathe in coffee— meant to relax you as well as regenerate your skin.

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