All About Japan

5 Delicious Japanese Coffee Roasters

Cafés Souvenirs Beyond Sushi: Best Eats & Treats in Japan

It's easy to get lost in Japan's flood of chain coffee shops and instant cans that can be found inside any vending machine or convenience store. But if you're looking for a bold brew from a company that's brainy about beans, this list of five local roasters is a great place to get started!

5. ABC Coffee (Tokyo)

ABC Coffee is the youngest in the business from this list. But the team behind this modern, no-fuss coffee shop seriously knows their stuff. In fact, they usually hold public coffee cupping workshops and single-origin coffee seminars at their sleek space in Jiyugaoka, and it has a terrace that offers a relaxing view of the posh neighborhood. Their beans are made by a wide roster of small-batch roasters all around Japan, and they have a monthly schedule where they showcase three in particular. ABC also offers a monthly coffee club! Beyond providing different plans for their delicious coffee every month, it's also packaged by employees with mental disabilities through a joint program with Japan Council of Social Employment, which makes that warm, fuzzy feeling you get from coffee even better!

4. Inoda Coffee (Kyoto)

4. Inoda Coffee (Kyoto)

Inoda Coffee takes pride in demonstrating high standards of Japanese omotenashi hospitality to its patrons. Their high standards also apply to presentation, and they serve their food in either silver or porcelain ware, with embossed crown stencils on their cups, plates and even cakes. The humble beginnings of this company were quite serendipitous—founder Shichihiro Inoda was drafted in the military in 1940, only to return to his warehouse with 15 sacks of coffee kept in excellent condition after the war. Mr. Inoda decided to sell coffee near his residence in Kyoto, and his family has been in the brewing business ever since.

Inoda Coffee has shops in several major cities all around Japan, including Kyoto, Hiroshima, Hokkaido, Tokyo and Yokohama.

3. Caravan Coffee (Yokohama)

3. Caravan Coffee (Yokohama)

Caravan Coffee has been slinging beans and making customers happy for 90 years. Although the beans for their brews come from multiple places around the world (as is usual for the industry), what makes Caravan Coffee unique is their dedication to variety in terms of roasting quality (blend, straight and specialty) and material sources (Ethiopia, Sulawesi, Indonesia and others). Their drip coffee sachets are prettily packaged in boxes, with Yokohama scenic spots painted on them. Beyond the delicious brew inside, the tins are great souvenirs to bring home to family and friends.

2. Maruyama Coffee (Karuizawa)

If you happen to be in Karuizawa in Nagano Prefecture for some outlet shopping, be sure to stop over to pick up some beans at Maruyama Coffee. Their main branch in Karuizawa is almost like a cabin nestled in the woods. Mr. Maruyama, the man behind the store's concept, claims that "roasting decides everything," so he has passionately perfected local roasting techniques to meet world-class standards while appealing to Japanese tastes. Through the years, Maruyama has also pursued quality bean sources and mastered the art of coffee making—the company even boasts having World Barista Champions on their team.

Maruyama also has branches in the Tokyo area, in tourist hotspots such as Omotesando and Kamakura.

1. Tsukikoya (Yokosuka)

Although the Tsukikoya experience requires some light hiking (it's on top of a hill), it's REALLY worth a visit—it has an authentic, homey interior and brews up a ridiculously good cup of coffee. At night, the shop offers an amazing view of Yokosuka, with flickering lights from the windows of the café as you sip your cup after a hearty meal or tasty dessert—the French toast won't disappoint! If your timing is right, you can even experience a coffee cupping workshop hosted monthly by the owner Eiji Tamura, who happens to be a Certified Q Arabica Grader (which means he analyzes Arabica coffee through smell and taste). If you visit the shop in summer during fireworks season, Tsukikoya's second floor offers the same magical fireworks experience without having to fight the enormous crowds!

Tsukikoya also has a branch in Motomachi Chukagai in Yokohama.