Innovation. That’s the first word that comes to mind when talking about Japan and the way they approach business practices. But it goes beyond that.
The Japanese have a way of bringing together tradition and innovation by adding a personal touch to their products and services. This forms a strong connection with the consumers that keep coming back to buy a product or a service.
The coffee industry in Japan follows this concept as well and some of the more recent coffee trends prove it. So, let’s find out what some of these trends are and just how the Japanese coffee professionals continue to be successful year after year.
Modern coffee shops that make a difference
Aside from the traditional Kissaten, Japan is full of modern coffee shops that you wouldn’t know which one to visit first. What’s interesting about these places is that they actually differ a lot from each other. Let’s have a look at two of them.
Each coffee shop has a personal touch that makes it unique. Aspects like the design of the space, the atmosphere and the menu on offer make these shops unique. Take for example Komeda’s Coffee.
Image from Komeda's Coffee
The first shop opened in Nagoya but now there are more than 800 stores throughout Japan. What makes this place so unique is its menu. For just the price of a coffee, they also serve you a delicious snack of your choice. In fact, the coffee and snacks have become so popular, you can even buy them in miniatures!
Ueshima Coffee House
There are a lot of reasons why this coffee shop is so popular. First of all, the ambiance is warm and relaxing. Customers enjoy an over the counter service in a space designed with wooden details that make you feel right at home and in touch with nature.
What’s more, their flannel drip coffee is very smooth and sweet, a result of their carefully selected roasting methods, depending on the bean variety. Lastly, you will find drinks on their menu you won’t see anywhere else, like the brown sugar milk coffee and the golden sesame milk coffee. This place is definitely creating its own coffee trends!
Both of these coffee shops focus on the quality of their coffee but keep finding ways to offer a unique service to their customers that keep them coming back. This is something that the Japanese do exceptionally well: find uniqueness in simplicity and create new trends.
Maker culture sites
Ever heard of the term “maker culture”? Basically, it refers to collaborations through hands-on action in a social environment. A lot of maker culture spaces have been popping up all over Japan the last few years and the coffee industry professionals couldn't miss out on this trend!
It wasn’t long before Home, the first “shared roaster space” coffee shop opened its doors in July 2017 in Osaka. The space is managed by Hoop, a company with the vision to connect the coffee community of Japan.
Image from Hoop
Home is full of on-site roasters and barista equipment so anyone can hone their skills at being a roaster and a barista. The equipment is state of the art and the beans on offer are top quality, so anyone can experiment and learn only by using the best of the best.
From time to time they also organize workshops and events that always follow the current trends. Maker culture spaces focus on collaboration and innovation so it’s no surprise the Japanese coffee professionals have embraced this concept as they always strive to bring the industry forward.
Ready-to-drink canned coffee
Japan is probably the only country in the world where you can find any type of coffee in a vending machine. They have canned americano, espresso, latte, café au lait, filter and more plus different types of blends depending on your taste!
The canned coffee culture in Japan started in the 1960’s and to this day there are more than 5.5 million vending machines across Japan selling canned coffee. So it’s not exactly a recent trend but what’s extraordinary is that it’s still a trend!
Many companies like Craft BOSS keep innovating and coming up with new recipes for their canned coffee. In fact, this company ranked as Japan’s third largest beverage brand, selling 100 million cases during 2018.
The lesson learned here is that just because something got popular 60 years ago doesn’t mean it can’t be a trend today since Japanese companies are reinventing themselves and continue to respond to the industry’s and the consumer’s needs.
Coffee’s influence in tea culture
We all know that when one thinks of Japan, they first think of tea and not coffee. However, the country has proved everyone wrong in more ways than one! And now the interesting trend is that coffee culture has a direct influence on the more traditional tea culture in Japan.
In recent years you can find more and more tea stands around the country, offering unique drinks with tea as their base, such as matcha and houjicha lattes. What’s more, much like a barista, the person making your tea drink is called a charista (cha means tea in Japanese).
These people have high skills and extensive knowledge about modern tea culture and drinks in Japan. So, if you are someone who prefers tea over coffee or enjoys both, Japan has everything in store for you.
One of the many things that the Japanese people understand really well is business. All the above examples prove that they make business something personal, they add their own personal touch to their goods and services and give customers something they want before they themselves know it.
That’s why so many trends start in Japan and spread across the world, just like the origins of Blue Bottle Coffee. There is truly a lot to learn from these trends and the way the Japanese do business. For them, it’s more than just business, it’s offering something valuable to consumers, something they believe in.