Sometimes a bit of youthful brashness goes a long way. Masataka Nojo was still just a university student when he started his coffee empire in 2009, from a humble coffee stand in Kanagawa Prefecture's Shonan region.

"I didn't really know much about coffee at the time, but I knew what I wanted to do to the industry," he says. "I wasn't trying to start a revolution, exactly, but I wanted to innovate — to try a new concept, create a new coffee culture."

That concept was a simple one: While most coffee shops have traditionally favored blends, Nojo pledged allegiance to single-origin coffees. At Nozy Coffee, each cup is brewed with beans from a specific region — and not a blend in sight. On a recent visit, the counter was lined with coffees from individual estates in Mexico, Brazil, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Nicaragua, each accompanied with concise tasting notes.