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Coffee culture in Japan: The coffee we take

Black coffee

In Japan, coffee is a priori not a delicious drink to savor in a nice French-style cafe. It is a morning pick-me-up for salaryman that becomes a fuel later in the day; a useful poison that sometimes keeps them going without sleep for several days.coffeeAt the office, coffee is usually drank black, and it often comes in an aluminum bottle. It almost always tastes disgusting, but as long as it is functioning, who cares? There’s no time to pay attention to such trifling things in a busy life of a traditional Japanese salaryman. Even after they retire, those man continue drinking drip coffee at Starbucks. I have never seen an older Japanese guy ordering something fancy like mocha (モカ) or Frappucino (フラペチーノ).

Frappucino and others

Now that I’ve mentioned Frappucino, I should be completely clear: it is mainly a drink for Japanese schoolgirls. Even in the coldest of Japanese winters (I mean zero degrees) they order the cold beverage that originated in Boston, Massachusetts. I’m not a fan of Frappucino, but have to admit drinking it at least once a year.coffee

Mocha, latte (ラテ) and cappuccino (カプチーノ) are typical drinks for female coffee aficionados. Someone said that you shouldn’t drink coffee if you have to drown it in milk and add sugar. But it is just impossible for me, as well as for many middle-aged Japanese women (and some man) to resist a frothy caffeinated drink in a laid-back atmosphere with mellow music! Variety of seasonal tastes makes lattes even more desirable. Australian flat white (フラットホワイト) is getting more popular in Tokyo too, but haven’t reached its prime yet.coffee

Espresso

Then comes His Majesty espresso. Classic and stylish, it is a shot drink that coffee gourmets order to freshen up their palate. It is a real hit among the Japanese who visited Italy, and among the younger Japanese salarymen.CoffeeAs I’m writing this, I’m also doing a little research. My seat is located just by the big coffee grinding machine, so I’m in coffee heaven right now. Just now an older woman was hesitating between cocoa and white chocolate mocha, and finally ordered a cup of hot cocoa. That kind of disappointed me, but then a man in his 40s went with a tall-sized drip coffee.coffeeMy theory is that many Japanese women, as probably many women in the world, consider coffee as a dessert, while many Japanese man want their coffee to show their masculinity.

Article by Olga Kaneda

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