In Okinawa Prefecture, one coffee company is doing its part to preserve the region's hundreds of endemic coral varieties.

Twenty-six years ago, Sooeido Co., Ltd. began as a company selling Okinawa products such as hibiscus tea and ukoncha (turmeric herbal tea) as souvenirs to tourists. Many of its repeat customers were domestic tourists who traveled to Okinawa to go diving in the prefecture's coral reefs. But, according to company representative Jun Kajiyama, about 10 years ago, the company started getting disturbing reports from these divers.

"In brief they said, 'The ocean has really gotten dirty,' and that led our company director to wonder why the ocean was dirty and why the coral was getting bleached," Kajiyama says in a phone interview.