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Coffee Associations in Japan: AJCRA and JCQA

Two of the well-known coffee organizations in Japan are the All Japan Coffee Roasters Association or AJCRA for brevity, and Japan Coffee Quality Authority or JCQA. Not much are known about these two coffee organizations worldwide but it takes a worth of your time to know more about these two.

The All Japan Coffee Roasters Association (AJCR)

AJCRA at present is headed by its chairman Kojiro Hagiwara. It is a long-standing union cooperative or organization approved by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and establish in January 22, 1966 as a “national unified organization for coffee roasters”. It all started in 1947 when former industry insiders established the National Coffee Commerce and Industry Association and by 1948, the National Coffee Association was established. The National Coffee Association was subsequently reorganized into the All Japan Coffee Association. When there had been liberalization of green coffee beans and importation of coffee beans in Japan, the All Japan Coffee Association was eventually reorganized as the present AJCRA. It was in 1969 that AJCRA officially participated in the International Coffee Agreement. AJCRA also was the one who facilitated the documentation of the history of Japanese coffee in 1982. The year thereafter, it led to the campaign to establish “coffee day” and it was in 2016 that the first ever international coffee day was held. AJCRA also launched the All Japan Coffee Employees' Pension Fund. In 2002, AJCRA held its first ever "Regular Coffee Fair" nationwide. The year thereafter, AJCRA edited and published "Coffee Test Textbook".

coffee roasting in charcoal

As one of Japan's leading coffee roasting industry groups, AJCRA dwells into a wide range of activities with the purpose of increasing consumption of regular coffee and further improving Japanese coffee culture. It consists of about more or less 195 coffee companies and still counting. Its business is mainly to sell and roast coffee to the exclusion of soluble coffees.

Together with economic globalization, the businesses of Japan's small and medium-sized regular coffee manufacturing and roasting companies are very much affected due to the entry of large domestic and overseas companies and the diversification of consumer values, thus, AJCRA helps to stabilize these businesses. Moreover, as part of securing food safety, AJCRA makes sure to process safe and secure coffee beans with excellent technology to deliver the original taste of coffee to consumers more widely and deeply. As part of this advocacy on food safety, by 2004, AJCRA ordered to inspect Brazilian coffee beans for pesticide residue problems that are being imported in Japan and two years thereafter, AJCRA enforced positive list system for residual pesticides and other harmful substances being put in coffee beans. In 2014, AJCRA received the Small and Medium Enterprise Agency Commissioner's Award "Law on Organization of Small and Medium Enterprises" 55th Anniversary and by 2016, the number of applicants for "Regular Coffee Fair" reached a record high of 54,138.

coffee roasting

Membership in the Association is highly encouraged for coffee businesses. The federation consists of 7 unions in each area. Membership registration is required to belong to the union and await of various benefits in registering as a member of AJCRA such as participation on workshops and lectures, obtaining information and materials, as well as publications. If you are interested to know more about AJCRA as well as qualifications and subscription fees to be a member and its activities, the headquarter of AJCRA is located at Chiyoda-ku in Tokyo. 

The Japan Coffee Quality Authority (JCQA)

JCQA on the other hand is the authority for certification of coffee appraisers in Japan as established by the All Japan Coffee Association in April 2003. Same with AJCRA, food safety is a concern for this committee so it promotes a wide range of activities with the aim of improving the correct knowledge and dissemination of coffee and technology. JCQA manages Japan's first coffee test for a wide range of fields, from basic coffee knowledge such as coffee producing countries, roasting and extraction methods, to specialized knowledge such as quality control and product planning, to have a wide and deep knowledge of all processes for coffee production, disseminate the correct knowledge of coffee and improve its technology, and aim to promote the production and consumption of coffee that consumers appreciate. Usually, certification for JCQA is highly recognized to give quality expertise in running coffee business in the country. Qualification to be coffee appraisers is given by the JCQA to “a person who has acquired highly expert knowledge and appraisal skills of coffee regarding the procurement of ingredients, the management of production and quality, etc.” and to give you an idea how difficult it is to be a qualified coffee appraiser by the JCQA, since the start of the qualification system in 2003 to March 2013, only 10 persons in Japan have been qualified by the JCQA to be coffee appraisers and by 2019, it was increased to 29 appraisers.

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