When Starbucks arrived in Japan in 1996, it should have spelled trouble for Doutor, the dowdy coffee chain that had dominated the market since the 1980s. In fact, the opposite happened: by cultivating demand for gourmet coffee, Starbucks actually revived the fortunes of its hot dog-vending homegrown rival.

There seems to be something similar happening with kissaten, the venerable coffee houses that flourished back in the pre-Doutor days. The recent invasion of so-called third wave coffeeshops (think: baristas with artisanal beards talking knowledgeably about “mouthfeel”) has prompted a re-evaluation of Japan’s older coffee-making traditions, with their emphasis on patient, finicky technique.

Unable to view this article?

This could be due to a conflict with your ad-blocking or security software.

Please add japantimes.co.jp and piano.io to your list of allowed sites.

If this does not resolve the issue or you are unable to add the domains to your allowlist, please see out this support page.

We humbly apologize for the inconvenience.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.