History of Coffee in Japan
In the early 1960’s, coffee in Japan was only consumed by the rich city residents, although, consumption was significantly less than traditional green tea. It wasn’t until 1969 when both hot and cold forms of ready-to-drink canned coffee were introduced which, together with the increase of the vending machine market in early 1970’s, saw coffee popularity rise1. The ready-to-drink coffee was especially favoured by the younger working generation who were continuously on-the-go. Although, if you ask me, the canned coffee I’ve tried is WAY TOO sweet….so I wouldn’t recommend it, even if your head is aching from the deprivation of your usual caffeine hit…
Bean Drinking Today
In the last 40 years, coffee consumption has increased dramatically with approximately 450,000 tonnes of coffee (green beans, soluble, roasted etc) imported in 20111. This is more than 5 times than what was imported in 1970. One of the reasons is due to, of course, the love of anything associated with the Western world. Chains such as Doutor Coffee, Tully’s and, of course, Starbucks entered the coffee market in the 1980’s and 90’s. Although, they aren’t really associated with ‘good’ coffee, they always seem to be packed full of students and business workers…I guess you can never go wrong with Starbucks right?? Plus, it is one of the few non-smoking cafe chains in Japan (smoking in cafe’s and restaurants is still OK in Japan – the smoking section is usually separated from the non-smokers).
As a long-black drinker from Sydney, I find the coffee’s in Japan pretty weak in taste and I am yet to find a coffee shop that has seriously satisfied my caffeine addiction (if you know of any please let me know…..ASAP). In my short time in Tokyo, I came across a cute little coffee shop while on my way to the new Sky Tree which was located in Solamachi called Be a Good Neighbour Coffee Kiosk. I was surprised to see they actually showed where their blends came from – ‘Today’s Coffee – Brazil’. They also had a range of blends for their Drip Coffee. In regards to food, I only noticed the small sweets in the glass cabinet at the front – so probably best not to organise a full lunch here.
The cafe had a vibrant and fresh ambiance to it with an open kitchen which presented their six coffee dripper’s ready for the next Drip Coffee order. The area of the cafe was pretty small (it was actually part of a clothing store) with one main large common wooden table with high stools and a high bar-style table along the window – all pretty full. I ordered ‘Today’s Coffee’ which came in a take-away cup even though I was dining in (probably because it’s a “kiosk”) and although I’m not a coffee expert, it was nice: subtle but nice. I noticed that they also had a section of the cafe where they sold their own merchandise (coffee cups etc), teas and their own type of Coffee Dripper.
If you’re visiting the Sky Tree, I’d definitely recommend a pit-stop here. The LONG lines that you will most likely encounter to get a Day-Pass to the Sky Tree will require some sort of sugar and/or caffeine hit .
Also, if you’re visiting the Sky Tree, get off at Oshiage Station rather than Tokyo Sky Tree Station. Solamachi is directly connected to Oshiage Station so it’s pretty easy to get to. Just take the Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line from Shibuya and you will get there in 30 minutes!
Be a Good Neighbour Coffee Kiosk
Sumida Ku, Tokyo Sky Tree Town Solamachi 2F
1. “Coffee Market in Japan” All Japan Coffee Association. Retrieved December 27 2012