"sharing the black coffee"

The history of coffee

Japan coffee history

cup_of_coffeeA limited amount of coffee was drunk by Dutch residents of Nagasaki at the end of the eighteenth century. However, coffee was not generally sold until the last quarter of the nineteenth century with the first bulk imports in 1877. The first coffee shop was opened in Tokyo in 1888 and the coffee drinking habit spread slowly with imports peaking at 140,000bags in 1937. Global conflict of the World War Ⅱ prevented significant imports of coffee during 1940s and the requirements of post-war reconstruction dampened consumption during 1950s.

Coffee imports were liberalized in 1961 and some 250,000 bags were imported in this year. Coffee remained a minor drink compared with the traditional green tea and initially it was drunk only among richer adult urban dwellers. Consumption of soluble coffee widely spread and regular coffee was consumed at coffee shops, eventually coffee has become increasingly popular over all the country. The introduction of canned ready-to-drink coffee in both hot and cold forms in 1969 and the expansion of vending machines helped to promote coffee consumption among younger generations and consequently coffee consumption increased rapidly by the synergistic effect.

Japanese coffee consumption has soared during last 40 years. The country is now third in terms of total consumption among importing countries. The rapid increase of consumption was realized mainly due to following reasons;

  • A marked change in society with some “Westernization” of consumption habits.
  • A marketing, with the initial emphasis on soluble coffee then extended to roasted and ground coffee.
  • The initial growth of attractive coffee shops (The number of coffee shops reached to 162,000 outlets peaking in 1982)
  • A process of product innovation including the vigorous promotion and sales of canned ready-to-drink coffee (now more than 5 million vending machines exist all over Japan and half of which serve for sales of beverages, including coffee)