A Brief Guide To Japanese Coffee Packets – 11 Coffee Sticks You Need To Try

A Brief Guide To Japanese Coffee Packets – 11 Coffee Sticks You Need To Try-Japanese Taste
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    As Japan is famous as a green tea-drinking country, many visitors are initially surprised to find that it has a thriving coffee-drinking culture. In 2021, almost 433 million tons of coffee were consumed in Japan, an increase from less than 400 million tons at the turn of the century. Japan has a host of coffee chains, including a plethora of stores from popular American brands such as “Starbucks,” “Seattle’s Best,” and “Tully’s” as well as a wide selection of specialist hand-drip coffee houses. For those looking for a simpler coffee experience, however, Japanese supermarkets and convenience stores offer a wide range of instant coffee, including individual sticks of coffee containing exactly the right amount for one cup of coffee, which will be the subject of this article.

    After looking very briefly at the history of coffee drinking in Japan, we will look at the freeze-dried method used for instant coffee, before comparing a wide range of types of stick coffee available in Japan.

    A Brief History Of Coffee Drinking In Japan

    A Brief History Of Coffee Drinking In Japan

    It was Dutch traders who first brought coffee to Japan in the 1700s, but it was not until 1888 that the first shop, called “Kahiichakan” was opened in Tokyo’s Ueno district. In 1933, Tadao Ueshima, who has been lauded as the “Father of Coffee in Japan” founded the “Ueshima Tadao Shoten” in Kobe. Imports of coffee were banned during World War II, due to Japan’s conflict with the West. Coffee then made a comeback in the 1960s, and the first canned coffees appeared on the market. In the 1960s, Japan imported approximately 15 million tons of coffee, so since then the market has almost trebled.

    When it comes to instant coffee, AGF first released a brand of instant coffee in 1960 and in 1968 created its Coffee Gift product, which tapped into Japan’s summer (O-chugen) and end-of-year (O-seibo) gift-giving culture and helped to propel the popularity of coffee in Japan. Instant coffee received a further boost from improvements in the freeze-drying technique used to make instant coffee, which is described in detail below.

    How Is Japanese Freeze-Dried Coffee Made?

    How Is Japanese Freeze-Dried Coffee Made?

    Japanese instant coffee is widely acclaimed as being the best in the world. One reason for this is that it uses high-quality Arabica or Robusta beans, but another reason is the freeze-drying technique it uses, which is said to make Japanese instant coffee the next-best thing to ground coffee with a lot less fuss. 

    The alternative to using freeze-drying is a method called spray-drying. Spray-drying requires the coffee to be treated at very high temperatures and a result of this is that oil molecules in the coffee can be overpowered by the high temperatures, leading to a product lacking in richness, taste, and depth. For this reason, most Japanese instant coffee uses the more expensive freeze-drying method which retains more of the flavor and aroma of the coffee.  

     The following steps are required to freeze-dry coffee.

    1. Brewing – The coffee is brewed to the point of being condensed into an extract.
    2. Freezing – The extract is then frozen at -40℃ causing the free water to freeze.
    3. Sublimation – This process, in which ice evaporates through a gaseous state, occurs when the frozen granules are dried in a vacuum state at low temperatures.

    In the case of stick coffee, these dried granules are then separated into single portions and sealed in packs.

    Different Types Of Japanese Coffee Packets

    For coffee that you make at home, nothing beats stick coffee for convenience. All you need is a coffee cup and some boiling water. You don’t even need to think about how much coffee to add to the cup. That is all done for you. So, what are the different types of stick coffee available?

    Black Coffee

    One thing to be aware of when purchasing coffee in Japan is that whereas in other countries, “black” coffee means “without milk”, in Japan, unless otherwise stated, this will mean “without milk and sugar.” This simplest form of coffee is very popular, especially among men, and a number of “black coffee” products are available in stick form, as described below.

    Nescafé Black Stick Instant Coffee Packets Sampler 45 Count

    This pack of 45 coffee sticks from Nescafé is a great idea if you are not sure of your preference and would like to try a variety of different black coffee blends. This sampler includes five different types, namely Nescafé Gold Blend, Nescafé Gold Blend Dark, Nescafé Gold Blend Fragrant, Nescafé Roasted Aromatic Rich, and Nescafé Roasted Aromatic Soft. Enjoy this wide range of different exquisite coffee flavors coupled with the convenience of instant coffee in a stick.

    Nescafé Black Stick Instant Coffee Packets Sampler 45 Count

    Nescafé Black Stick Selection Instant Coffee Packets Sampler 45 Count

    $19.99

    AGF Instant Black Coffee Packets Coffee Shop Blend 100 Sticks

    This bumper pack of AGF instant coffee offers excellent flavor and aroma in the convenience of a coffee stick. These 100 individually wrapped sticks mean that your regular shot of coffee won’t break the bank, working out at only 30 yen per cup. 

    AGF Instant Black Coffee Packets Coffee Shop Blend 100 Sticks

    AGF Instant Black Coffee Packets Coffee Shop Blend 100 Sticks

    $27.95

    AGF Maxim Freeze Dried Instant Coffee 100 Sticks

    Another extremely economical offering from AGF is this pack of 100 coffee sticks in the Maxim brand. The freeze-dried coffee in each pack is made in Japan, using coffee beans from various places around the world, including Colombia and Vietnam.

    AGF Maxim Freeze Dried Instant Coffee 100 Sticks

    AGF Maxim Freeze Dried Instant Coffee 100 Sticks

    $23.95

    AGF Maxim Black In Box Instant Coffee Assortment 50 Sticks

    If a pack of 100 sticks feels like more than you want to be starting with off the bat, why not try this pack of 50 sticks from AGF? The pack includes coffee sticks made from four different bean types: 20 sticks of the Brazil blend, and 10 each of Colombia, Mocha, and Kilimanjaro blends.

    AGF Maxim Black In Box Instant Coffee Assortment 50 Sticks

    AGF Maxim Black In Box Instant Coffee Assortment 50 Sticks

    $18.95

    Coffee with Milk

    This section covers blends of ground coffee with milk, as well as milk-based espresso drinks.

    AGF Blendy Café Latory Rich Milk Cafe Latte Unsweetened 18 Sticks

    A common gripe among coffee lovers in Japan is that only “black” coffee is unsweetened and, especially canned coffee with milk tends to be sweetened to some degree. If you prefer your coffee with milk but no sugar, then this product is for you. Just add water to create a delicious cup of rich coffee with milk. 

    AGF Blendy Café Latory Rich Milk Cafe Latte Unsweetened 18 Sticks

    AGF Blendy Café Latory Rich Milk Cafe Latte Unsweetened 18 Sticks

    $13.98

    AGF Blendy Cafe Latory Rich Milk Cafe Latte 20 Sticks

    This is the sweetened version of the above product for those who like their creamy coffee a little sweeter.

    AGF Blendy Cafe Latory Rich Milk Cafe Latte 20 Sticks

    AGF Blendy Cafe Latory Rich Milk Cafe Latte 20 Sticks

    $11.99

    AGF Blendy Stick Cafe au Lait Instant Coffee with Milk 8 Sticks

    If your preference is for Cafe au Lait rather than the espresso-based Café Latte, then this may be the product for you. This compact box is also easy to carry around, making it perfect for those who want to enjoy an instant cup of rich coffee with milk on the go.

    AGF Blendy Stick Cafe au Lait Instant Coffee with Milk 8 Sticks

    AGF Blendy Stick Cafe au Lait Instant Coffee with Milk 8 Sticks

    $5.95

    Starbucks Creamy Cafe Latte Premium Mixes (Pack of 3)

    This product, created as a collaboration between Nescafé and Starbucks, contains a total of 12 servings, and allows you to experience the true taste of Starbucks Café Latte enjoyed in their stores with the convenience of an instant stick coffee.

    Starbucks Creamy Cafe Latte Premium Mixes (Pack of 3)

    Starbucks Creamy Cafe Latte Premium Mixes (Pack of 3)

    $14.79

    Flavored Coffees

    Flavored coffees have greatly increased in popularity in recent years in Japan, and those who like a plus alpha in their coffee will be glad to know that there is a wide range of options available in stick form as well.

    AGF Blendy Cafe Latory Rich Creamy Capuccino 7 Sticks

    Although it may be a matter of debate whether cappuccino counts as flavored coffee, as it contains chocolate sprinkles we have put it in this section. Lighter than a Café Latte, this pack of seven sticks allows you to make the perfect cappuccino just by adding hot water.

    AGF Blendy Cafe Latory Rich Creamy Capuccino 7 Sticks

    AGF Blendy Cafe Latory Rich Creamy Capuccino 7 Sticks

    $5.95

    Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha Premium Mixes (Pack of 3)

    If you are going for something truly luxurious, why not try this pack of 12 servings of white chocolate mocha, that faithfully recreates the taste of the famous Starbucks drink. Made from 100% arabica coffee beans combined with milk and white chocolate, every sachet will provide your day with a special moment. Other offerings from Starbucks include regular Caffé Mocha and Caramel Latte.

    Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha Premium Mixes (Pack of 3)

    Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha Premium Mixes (Pack of 3)

    $14.79

     AGF Blendy Cafe Latory Flavored Drinks Assortment Box 20 Sticks

    If you are interested in trying an assortment of different flavored coffee and tea drinks, this assortment box from AGF may be ideal for you. It includes rich bitter café latte, rich milk café latte, rich caramel macchiato, and rich matcha latte. Other assortment sets that contain both coffee and tea options include this gift box from Starbucks.

    AGF Blendy Cafe Latory Flavored Drinks Assortment Box 20 Sticks

    AGF Blendy Cafe Latory Flavored Drinks Assortment Box 20 Sticks

    $17.95

    Just Add Hot Water For Delicious Coffee Of All Types

    As we have explored in this blog post, in addition to its plethora of coffee chain stores, specialist coffee houses, and convenience store offerings. Japan offers a wide range of delicious coffees that are available in highly convenient stick form, for use either at home or on the go. These include coffee with or without milk, as well as a wide range of flavored coffees.

    What is your impression of stick coffee in Japan? Do you feel it recreates the taste found in the stores or is it a poor substitute? Do you have a favorite type of stick coffee? Let us know in the comments.

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