On BBG: Coffee in a can is big in Japan

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On BBG today, I wrote about coffee in a can which, as far as I can tell, is largely a Japanese phenomenon disguised as a manly American one.

When I was a teenager in Tokyo, I used to drink coffee all the time — from a can, from a vending machine, often at the train station on my way home from school. In went a 100 yen coin, and out came a piping hot 250 ml can of delicious brew, pre-mixed with cream and sugar. Coffee in a can is everywhere in Japan, and when I moved to the US, I wondered why it’s not as prevalent here. Why? It’s so much more convenient and cheaper than searching for a Starbucks.

Read: Coffee in a can from a vending machine is big (and manly) in Japan

8 thoughts on “On BBG: Coffee in a can is big in Japan

  1. oh god the memories! I loved drinking all those sweet Georgia and Boss (I think I still have a shirt somewhere with the Boss guy on it, with a shaved head, and it says Bozu..) coffees whenever I was in Japan when I was a teenager too. Then again, Starbucks is more yum. And we didn’t even have those here in my town till two years ago… ugh.

  2. is it coffee? I always thought can coffee bore the same relation to coffee as happoshu to beer.

  3. “Why? It’s so much more convenient and cheaper than searching for a Starbucks.” Ditto on the search – 2-on-every-corner. Easy and cheap, yes. Tastes like liquid garbage, also yes.

  4. Crazy, I was just telling my brother about this on Friday and why we don’t have them. They of course need to be in a high traffic pedestrian area, to cover costs, but perhaps the main issue is theft and vandalism. In a word, respect. I have found that to be a huge difference between the U.S. and Japan.
    Anyways, it was awesome to grab a coffee, or oolong tea whenever. I miss that.

  5. No such thing here in Australia, Japan has a vending machine culture that’s fascinating. Here a vending machine is a last resort option when it comes to refreshments and other over priced snacks.
    The few Starbucks that remain open here I think are struggling. With years of a coffee shop culture here before Starbucks only recently arrived, having good quality coffee was something Starbucks found out the hard way they were just another run of the mill fast food (drink) shop that made a rather ordinary over priced beverage.

  6. Thing is, Japan has both vending machines *and* Starbucks. The busiest Starbucks in the world is the one in Shibuya. (But that’s hardly the only one in Tokyo.)
    Japan has its own coffee shop culture, with a bunch of chains as well as independent shops. They just love coffee.
    I think the vending machine thing is totally different. I see a lot of kids getting coffee out of vending machines, but not that many adults. (I see adults get other things out of vending machines, but less coffee than other drinks.)
    I think that’s because vending machine coffee is always REALLY sweet and usually heavily creamed. In other words, it doesn’t taste much like coffee. There is some “strong” canned coffee but they up the sugar content as much as the coffee itself. I’ve never been able to find a canned coffee in Japan that’s either plain black, or unsweetened with a little bit of milk. That’s why adults still go to Starbucks…