Two Coffee-at-Home-in-Japan Recommendations

I love coffee, but it's hard to find a good cup, especially decaf. Particularly since I can't have a lot of caffeine, we don't drink enough coffee to make a coffee-maker worthwhile. So, what's one to do for a good cup of coffee at home?

Hot Coffee

Luckily, once while visiting an office, I was served a cup of coffee so tasty that I had to ask its source. It turned out to be a Brooks single-serving “drip-pack coffee”. As the image on the right (which I stole from their web site) shows, these are small packs of coffee grounds with a built-in holder that folds out and allows the pack to be positioned above the cup, into which you then pour boiling water.

They have many types, including “Moka”, “Brazil”, “Columbian”, “Guatemala”, “Kenya”, “Mild Blend”, “European Blend”, and a bunch of flavored ones, including “Caramel” and “Chocolate Cream”. They even have a decaf version.

The flavor-added ones sounded disgusting at first (I drink my coffee black), but despite having a wonderfully penetrating aroma, the flavor itself is light and very well balanced. It's good coffee with a hint of flavoring, where the flavoring knows that it's second fiddle to the good coffee taste.

The prices are reasonable, too. A set of 75 packs (mix of five different flavors) costs 26 yen (about 23 US cents) each, and that's after tax, with free shipping. When you buy in larger quantities (200 packs), the price goes down to about 19 yen (16 cents) each. Recommended.

Ice Coffee

With ice coffee, probably more popular in Japan than hot coffee, it's even harder to find a good cup. I drink hot coffee black, but for some reason I find that ice coffee needs a bit of sugar and milk. Maybe that's because I simply can't find a truly good cup. Anyway, after having tried many, I stumbled upon 7-11's いつものコーヒ (“Anytime Coffee”), made for 7-11 by UCC, a large Japanese coffee company.

This ice coffee comes in liter packs, like milk and orange juice. It's lightly sweetened, and unlike any other ice coffee I can recall, actually tastes good. I have it over ice with a splash of milk. And being 7-11's house brand, it's easy to find. I wish there was a decaf version, but I've never seen a decaf ice coffee in Japan, ever. (Decaf anything is not popular in Japan; Coke-Cola doesn't even sell Caffeine-Free Coke in Japan.)

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