Coffee was introduced in Japan by the Dutch in the 16th century. However, it didn’t get popular among the Japanese population until the beginning of the 20th century. Nowadays, you can find many coffee shops from big chains such as Starbucks, which opened its first store in 1996 in Ginza, but also a lot of small independent coffee shops competing with creativity.
Where to drink your coffee in Japan?
The first place where you could have a coffee break is a combini (convenience store) such as Seven Eleven or Family Mart. These establishments sell coffee in bottles or cans and also have coffee machines for a fresh drink at only 100 yen. A great option if you are short on time.
You will also find during your time in Japan many coffee shops chains. We, of course, no longer need to introduce Starbucks, the American giant. But did you know that Japan also has its own coffee chains? You can for example have a try at Doutor Coffee, the first Japanese coffee company to open on the archipelago, in Harajuku in 1980.
Finally, you will find in Japan many small independent coffee shops, some of which roast and grind themselves their coffee beans. The way to prepare coffee is quite different from Western countries. Some coffee shops use espresso machines of course, but the most popular way to brew coffee in Japan is drip coffee. The freshly ground coffee is placed in a filter over a cup, into which simmering water is slowly poured. Rarer and rarer now, siphon coffee was also quite popular. This method consists of heating a lower vessel in which there is water. The water will go up to an upper vessel where the coffee is. Once brewed, the coffee will drop back down into the lower vessel.
At home, coffee is also gradually winning over tea, especially at breakfast. Nowadays, before going to work or to school, Japanese people will have coffee with toast, which now often replaces the traditional bowl of rice and miso soup.
Bell Time Coffee in Kamakura
Bell Time Coffee is a coffee shop located in Kita-Kamakura. It was at first a sake shop, but with the increasing numbers of tourists in the city, the owners decided to convert themselves into a coffee shop and make it a place for visitors to have a break between two visits. Passionate, Suzuki-san, the owner, roasts his coffee beans himself, while his mum greets customers, ground coffee beans to order, and skillfully brews delicious drip coffees.
Ordinary coffee beans are roasted at 400 degrees for 5 minutes, but Bell time roasts at a maximum temperature of 173 degrees for 40 minutes. With a low-temperature approach, you don’t have to worry about burning the beans, so you can spend more time roasting them to bring out the flavor of your coffee beans. Also, because the temperature is low, you will be amazed at the range of flavors that cannot be felt by high-temperature roasting.
Mr. Suzuki prepared 3 kinds of blends for Pekopeko box. Belltime blend, the signature blend, uses beans from Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala. The second is Ogane Coffee, named after the famous Engakuji Ogane (a big temple bell), which is right next to the Belltime coffee shop. The last blend is Pekopeko blend, a deep roasted blend.