Putting Coffee in a Can
Japan’s ubiquitous canned coffee first appeared in 1965. It was the creation of Miura Yoshitake, a coffee shop owner in Hamada, Shimane Prefecture, who took inspiration for the product from the many canneries operating in the area. The first company to mass produce kan kōhī, as it is known in Japanese, was UCC, which released its well-known and popular brand in 1969 after company president Ueshima Tadao decided to develop a coffee that could be easily enjoyed anywhere.
A Drink for All Occasions
Over the decades Japan has developed a deep affinity for canned coffee. Today there are a vast number of styles and brands available at convenience stores, station kiosks, vending machines, and other locations. Japanese on average guzzle around 100 cans per person annually, according to a 2012 survey by the All Japan Coffee Association. To keep up with the Japanese palate, beverage companies produce over 100 new varieties each year.
Consumption of canned coffee continues to grow year on year. According to a 2014 survey by Suntory Beverage and Food, canned coffee led other varieties of java, accounting for 25% of coffee consumed by people who drink over five cups a week.
Price has contributed to keeping canned coffee a popular choice. Most varieties are inexpensive, costing roughly half the price of a cup at a standard café. On average, cans cost ¥120 to ¥150, although there are discount brands as well as pricier gourmet blends.
Cool Summer Selections
Iced coffee first appeared in Japan during the Meiji era (1868–1912). However, without refrigeration, many Japanese took a hint from a centuries-old technique for chilling fruits and vegetables, placing coffee in a glass jar and setting it in a bowl or stream of fresh well water. In the modern age, chilled and sweetened coffee remains a popular choice during Japan’s hot and stifling summers, although chilling now takes place inside vending machines and convenience store refrigerators.
Hot or cool, a can of coffee can be easily enjoyed with a quick visit to a nearby shop or vending machine. The best way to understand the multifaceted charm of canned coffee is to try it. A list of different brands and varieties is available on the website Kunion.com.
Source and image: Nippon