Canned Coffee: a Japanese Phenomena

When people think of Japan, they’ll likely picture the ancient tea ceremonies, the warm cups of sencha, the frothy matcha. Definitely, they’d be thinking green tea long before Japanese coffee comes to mind.

Who ever heard of an Ancient Coffee Ceremony?

That said, coffee is more popular than ever before in Japan. What’s more, thanks to Japan’s coffee drinking habits, we can now enjoy an innovation in coffee only recently introduced to certain UK coffee shops.

We are talking, of course, about the humble, ready-to-drink, canned coffee.

A Record Breaking Canned Coffee

First created in Japan back in the 1960s by UCC Ueshima Coffee, a company which has since claimed the Guinness World Records title for ‘Longest-Selling Ready-to-Drink Canned Coffee Brand‘, the Japanese canned coffee market has since grown into a global £15 billion industry lead by several Japanese and international brands.

If you didn’t know about UCC Ueshima Coffee or other canned coffees from Japan, you most certainly would have seen some of the largest coffeehouse chains in the UK, including Starbucks and Costa, step into the canned coffee arena with their own take on ready-to-drink java.

Canned Coffee: Convenient and Train-Friendly

As with all great products, canned coffee began as a simple solution to a difficult problem.

Tadao Ueshima, the founder of UCC Ueshima Coffee, was left grinding his teeth like coffee beans when he had to abandon a hot drink at the platform to catch a leaving train.

This got him thinking. Wouldn’t it be far more convenient, and commuter-friendly, to have a canned coffee you could enjoy cold, whenever you needed a caffeine boost?

As it turned out, Tadao was right. It would.

Where Can You Buy Canned Coffee?

In Japan? Everywhere! On city blocks, down alleyways, in front of conbini convenience stores, even along footpaths.

How? Jihanki (自販機) vending machines. There are more than 5.5 million vending machines across Japan, and canned coffee is one of their most popular items.

Brewed, ready-to-drink and readily available, nothing speaks to the busy, caffeine-driven coffee drinkers of Japan more than the humble canned coffee waiting to be grabbed from the nearest vending machine.

Canned Coffee Vending Machine

Extraterrestrials Love Canned Coffee

Since 2006, American actor Tommy Lee Jones has been the face of Japan’s Suntory Boss Coffee in more than 30 adverts—but not as you know him.

The ongoing story-line of these ads is both humorous and a little disconcerting. An alien decides to take the form of Tommy Lee Jones in order to blend into Japan. While he learns about human life, he takes comfort with sips of canned coffee.

Japanese Canned Coffee in the UK

You can try some of Japan’s canned coffee by shopping online at or visiting us in store. From Suntory’s smooth Boss Black Coffee to Pokka’s sweeter Milk coffee, why not enjoy with coffee flavoured Japanese snacks?