Canned Coffee (缶コーヒー)

Canned coffee means coffee in a can ready to drink without any preparation. It is mainly sold from vending machines and at convenience stores. Ii is also called ready-to-drink coffee collectively with products packed in a chilled cup or a PET bottle (Polyethylene terephtalate bottle).


Canned coffee is one of the various secondary products made from by processing coffee (.coffee-flavored candies and bread) and is categorized as a product of industrial coffee market. It is higher in convenience than instant coffee which belongs to the same preserved food category and is characterized by easy outdoor use.

It was commercialized on a full scale in Japan during the coffee shop and instant coffee boom and grew by leaps and bounds with the development of vending machines. After that, too, the market continued to expand and in 2008 the market share of canned coffee exceeded 30% in the whole soft drink market in Japan. In supermarkets and discount stores in the suburbs, canned coffee is sold in cases of twenty-four to thirty-cans.

Component ratio between cans and polyethylene terephtalate (PET) for soft-drink containers use was reversed around 1999 and the ratio of PET bottles became 88.1% of the whole during the 2000s with the use of cans being considerably reduced. However, just for coffee-type soft drinks, the situation is reversed, cans largely accounted for 71.5% of containers during the 2000s. As the Japan Soft Drink Association explains, sterilization should be conducted under the high temperature and humidity conditions required by the Food Sanitation Act (perfect sterilization is difficult, however; for details, refer to the section on ingredients for canned coffee) so, due to their strength, steel cans are used in large quantities.

Various surveys have been conducted on canned coffee in Japan and 'Georgia (canned coffee)' is the brand often selected as number one in various categories.

The unique flavor, smell and taste of canned coffee are created by the sterilization process together with a container like a steel can, the ingredient of additives (ingredients of canned coffee), the property of coffee where the natural aroma disappears due to heat or lapse of time. As there are some people who feel canned coffee tastes different from usually-served coffee, effort to improve the taste is always being made to meet their expectations.

Each individual's taste is strongly reflected on the way they drink their coffee, but canned coffee is uniformly canned and sold. Due to this peculiarity, canned coffee has been long regarded as a special Japanese drink, but from the 1990s it started being manufactured and sold in some countries other than Japan like in Western countries. More especially, the sale of canned coffee has remarkably increased in Southeast Asian countries.


1958 - Toyama Shokuhin is understood to have started selling "Coffee in Diamond labeled cans." Details are unknown due to bankruptcy in 1964.

1965 - "Mira Coffee" was developed by Yoshitake MIURA, storekeeper of the coffee shop in Hamada City, Shimane Prefecture, which is said to be the first canned coffee in the world, but it went out of production in a short time and so details are unknown. The product was manufactured utilizing can-making technology then prosperous in Hamada City, and it is said that it didn't show muddiness even when the can was opened a half year later.

1969 - Ueshima Coffee Head Office (Currently: UCC Ueshima Coffee) put on the market "UCC COFFEE Milk & Coffee," the first canned coffee with milk, taking a hint from coffee milk. In those days, bottled coffee milk was a general coffee drink available away at home or office, but with the arrival of canned coffee on the market, people were able to carry coffee freely. However, UCC canned coffee is categorized as a milk beverage due to its high ratio of milk solids. Canned coffee comprising of standard coffee of more than 5 g of coffee content was "Coffee Premium Type" put on the market by Pokka Corporation in 1972.

1973 - Pokka, conscious of the fact that coffee can be drunk warmed or chilled, developed a hot-or-cold-type vending machine by which switchover is possible between cooling and heating. As this vending machine came into wide use, canned coffee, that had been considered a summer drink became a year-round product, and this considerably expanded the market.

1975 - Coca-Cola (Japan) Company, Limited entered into the market with "Georgia (Canned coffee)."

The shipment in 1983 exceeded 100 million cases.

From around 1986, beer brewery-affiliated companies like Asahi soft Drinks, Kirin Beverage, and Suntory entered the market on a full scale. They aimed at differentiation from soft-drink-type canned coffee through an image marketing strategy focusing on kinds of coffee beans and manufacturing process.

In 1990, the shipment exceeded 300 million cases (30 cans/case). The ratio of canned coffee in the beverage market achieved a level of approximately one fourth of the whole.

From around 2001, 300 g or so bottle cans appeared on the market.

From around 2003, 190 g cylindrical bottle type cans appeared on the market mainly used for premium-oriented coffee sold at comparatively high prices (approximately 140 yen/can). These types of bottle cans were developed for female persons who felt uncomfortable drinking directly from a can. Moreover, it is possible to recap them and, in the case of 190 g cylindrical bottles, shrink technology is adopted to prevent heat transfer, which allows them to be comfortably held.

From around the mid 2000s, people became health-conscious with topics like metabolic syndrome being talked about and cafes serving bitter coffee like espresso spread. Due to the tendency, low-sugar-content coffee came to be preferred and the demand/market for trace-sugar or sugar-free coffee is growing. As far as sugar-free coffee is concerned, upgraded products have been increasing with the improved level of convenient use of bottle cans with improved flavor.

The market size for canned coffee from the beginning to the mid 2000s hovered around an estimated 350 million cases, leveling off or slightly decreasing. As factors in the situation, the following facts are mentioned, i.e., the shift to chilled cup coffee due to the change of consumers' tastes and the hard-fought struggle for the main product, canned coffee with milk and sugar due to people's expanded health consciousness, for which efforts were made to increase the demand for low-sugar, trace-sugar and sugar-free canned coffee to make up for the loss of sales.

In 2008, the market size of canned coffee took an upward turn thanks to the above-mentioned increase the demand for low-sugar, trace-sugar and sugar-free canned coffee and made an 1.5% increase compared with 2007.


Some say that Chase & Sanborn Coffee Company in the United States developed it in 1876. If you search the website of the United States Patent and Trademark Office for some patent documents, you can find process patents from the 1940s for canned coffee by can manufacturing companies.

In 1977, Pokka Corporation of Japan established its subsidiary (Pokka Corporation (Singapore) Pte. Ltd.) in Singapore. It started manufacturing canned coffee in a local plant. In 1979, it started exporting canned coffee to Japan and Hong Kong.

In 1982, a food company in Taiwan, King Car Food Industrial Co. started selling canned coffee, "Mr. Brown Coffee" in the Taiwan market.

In 1991, a Swiss global food company, Nestle and The Coca-Cola Company set up a joint venture, Coca-Cola & Nestle Refreshments (Changed it's name later to Beverage Partners Worldwide.)
(In 2007, it returned its dealership to Nestle.)
Canned coffee under the brand name of "NESCAFE" came to be sold around the world centering on Asian countries (In the United States, it was put on the market in 1996).

In 1994, a chain of coffee shops in the United States, Starbucks Coffee Company formed a partnership with PepsiCo, Inc. After that, it actively developed the market by putting on the US market canned coffee, "Starbucks Double Shot" (2002) and by introducing heating vending machines for its own brand products.

In 2008, The Coca-Cola Company tied up with a major coffee roaster in Italy, Illycaffe and sold canned coffee, "Illy issimo" in 10 European countries including Austria, Croatia and Greece.

Definition of labels

Although the labels like "Coffee," "Coffee beverage," and so on, had not been defined for some time, the trade organization laid down manufacturing rules in 1977 and classified the products into the three types below according to "Bibliography and links" officially announced by Japan Fair Trade Commission later. It was caused by an intensified sales competition due to the spread of vending machines and the fears that extremely low-concentrated products or inferior products containing substitute ingredients might be distributed on the market in view of rising prices of unroasted beans due to great frost damage in Brazil during 1975.

Unroasted beans content per 100 g of products


5 g or more

Coffee beverage

2.5 g or more and less than 5 g

Coffee-containing soft drinks

1 g or more and less than 2.5 g

As unroasted bean content for coffee served at coffee shops is understood to be approximately 10 g per one cup (100 to 150 ml), there were opinions prevailing that concentrations for the standard should be higher. However, as the drinking situation is different between canned coffee and regular coffee, it would be unreasonable to compare the two types on the same level. From this viewpoint, the conclusion was that it is appropriate to leave the levels as they were. Moreover, it was originally intended to be classified into two levels to avoid complication, but low-concentrated coffee in bottles came to be included and it was expanded in scope to three classes.

Other definitions

Any product containing three percent or more of milk solids is to be categorized as 'milk beverages' according to "Ordinance regarding standard of element, etc. of milk and dairy products" ("Café au lait" "Caffè Latte" "Coffee milk" and so on).

It is not permitted to label products containing sugars, dairy products or emulsified fats as 'Black.'
However, products containing only sugars are permitted to be labeled as 'Black' with a description of 'Sweetened.'

The labels, 'Sugar-free' and 'trace-sugar' are unconditionally or conditionally permitted to be labeled, if a product complies with the nutrition label standards of the Health Promotion Law. The label, 'Sugar-free' can be used if the content of sugars is 0.5 g or less. The label, 'Trace-sugar' can be unconditionally used only by the absolute labeling method.
Such labels as 'Trace-sugar,' 'Low,' 'little,' 'Moderate' and so on can be freely used by complying with '2.5 g or less per 100 g.'
The label, 'Trace-sugar' can be conditionally used by the relative labeling method. Such labels as 'Trace-sugar,' 'Low,' 'little,' 'Moderate' and so on can be used by attaching a warning label, "Compared with our standard product," if the content equals each company's own 'Standard value' of sugars minus less than 2.5 g/100 ml. The value of '5 g or less of sugars per 100 ml' on the basis of the surveyed value of Japan Coffee Beverage Association and the standard of 'Foods other than beverages' is applied mutatis mutandis in many cases.

A label showing 'Milk-containing' and so on cannot be put on cans unless a coffee beverage contains five percent or more by weight of a dairy product containing three percent or more of milk fat and eight percent or more of nonfat milk solids.

If a specific name for coffee like "Blue Mountain" is to be labeled, no other type of coffee may be mixed with it.

If a name meaning a blend of a specific type of coffee like "Mocha Blend" is to be labeled, fifty-one percent or more of that type of coffee should be contained.

For the labels indicating 'Freshly-ground,' 'Deeply-roasted' and 'Demitasse,' there are no rules and manufacturers are using these labels based upon their own judgment.

Types of cans

Short cans

Coffee in 190 g cans
As this volume was the most common after the last half of the 1980s, the occasion for this can being called a short can have been decreasing.

Tall cans

It is coffee packed in 250 g or so tall cans. This type is used less for 'Coffee' and is mainly for 'Coffee beverages' (In rare cases, for 'Coffee-containing soft drink'). In the period of transition of trends to short cans, 250 g cans called 'Fat can' that were equally tall as 190 g size cans and wider in diameter were found.

Espresso cans

Coffee in 170 g cans
However, there is also 190 g demitasse.

Bottle cans

They are also commonly called recap cans, being resealable as PET bottles and recyclable as aluminum cans. There are 190 g or so narrow and cylindrical cans (TEC cans-Toyo Seikan, WORC-Daiwa Can) and 300 g or so/400 g-500 g cylindrical, milk-can-shaped cans (New bottle cans-Daiwa Can/Universal Can), with wide openings making the aroma and flavor of coffee more enjoyable when drinking.

350 g cans

Due to their cost, 350 g cans are rarely used for 'coffee' and extremely less for 'Coffee beverages.'
Since they give a sense of economy and meet a quantitative desire for a thirst-quenching beverage, more emphasis is placed on their sales during the summer season.

Barrel-shaped cans

They are barrel-shaped and present an image of high-quality. They were originally developed for canned beer and afterwards modified for canned coffee. They were created around the time when the trend started changing to authentically-oriented coffee and played a part in creating the atmosphere.

Waist-shaped cans

It is the can type used for "Roots (Canned coffee)" series sold by Japan Tobacco. Its lower part is compressed to make a waist for higher thermal efficiency during sterilization and its unique shape resembles a coffee cup (MC can-Hokkai Can).

Bead cans

Embossed beads like those found on a drum are incorporated into the middle of the can body for the thin-walled can body plate to resist external pressure and the can is corrugated. While they had a cost advantage under the soaring cost of steel, there were drawbacks in design and they were used only in the 1980s.

Self-heating cans

They are food cans equipped with the self-heating device invented at the beginning of the twentieth century. Canned coffee with this device already existed in Western countries during the 1940s but was of limited use. From around 2000, it started receiving attention again as an alternative to heated vending machines. A disadvantage, it was comparatively more expensive than the conventional-type canned beverages.

Vending machines

Factors for the rapidly-increased demand of canned coffee include the spread of vending machines which can perform both heating and cooling.

Hot or cold vending machines

This is a type of vending machine from which one can choose hot or cold drinks. It was developed by Sanden in 1972 and first introduced by Pokka.

Hot and cold vending machines

This is a type of vending machine that can dispense both hot and cold drinks simultaneously by a machine, developed by SANYO Electric in 1976.

IH vending machines

This is a type of vending machine equipped with Induction Heating. They store canned beverages at normal room temperature (or lower temperature) on standby and rapidly heat up a selected drink during the process of dispensing. It is possible to raise the heat up to 140 degrees or so in less than one minute in the case of a 250 ml can. This function made it possible to reduce electric power consumed to maintain the temperature and to control the deteriorating speed of products which lightened the burden of reloading management. As above, this type has considerably cleared up the problem of conventional type heating vending machines. In Japan, it was developed by Fuji Electric Holdings Co., Ltd in 1993 and introduced by Dydo. The particular type of vending machine which Starbucks Corporation in U.S. introduced is understood to be one adopting this system.

Outline of the situation in Japan

From around 1975, off-brand distributors of vending machines (door-to-door peddlers) started appearing on the scene. They were the pioneers of the so-called Vending machine business and kept expanding the number of machines installed by their innovative business practice and selling power. It is said that there were no less than 700 dealers across the nation at the end of the 1970s. During this period, that coincided with the time when hot and cold vending machines were invented, competition among dealers was intensifying. Vending-machine manufacturers were flooded with orders, as the machines were regarded promising. Vending machines with wild design or with factors stirring up customer interests appeared in large numbers, contributing to accelerated sales of canned coffee. Later, the vending-machine business attracted the attention of beverage makers, some that started establishing business alliance with the former, and vending machines labeled with trade marks of beverage makers became the main current of the vending machine business.

Penetration throughout the world

There is no country with as many of vending machines installed outdoors like in Japan. In Western countries, containers for soft drinks were changing to bottles and cans after the 1960s, but the cup-dispensing method remained as mainstream only in the case of vending machines. In view of the success in the canned coffee market in Japan, introduction of heating vending machines was attempted in the past, but there was a low level of interest in the market.

Ingredients of canned coffee

Coffee beverages, a type of sub-acid drink involving a higher risk of spoilage due to bacterial pollution as compared with carbonated drinks (except for black coffee). Importance is attached to storage stability of ingredients added due to the fact that milk constituent and hot dispensing create propagating conditions for bacteria.


Water is necessary to extract coffee. The higher the water hardness is, the more it affects bitterness and the sense of roasting, and the lower the water hardness is, the more it affects the acid taste and sense of mildness. However, if it contains an excessively high amount of calcium and magnesium, milk constituents become unstable, and so hardness of less than 150 ppm is considered to be desirable. Furthermore, it is said that water containing a high level of salts may interfere with coffee flavor and also adversely affect thermal stability of milk constituents.


Coffee is the main ingredient of canned coffee. While white coffee was at its height, less-expensive, and strongly-harsh 'Coffee tree Robsta' heavily roasted was used to bring out the bitterness and roasting aroma which prevents milk from removing the flavor of coffee. However, after the trend changed to authenticity-oriented coffee and the ratio of milk constituents were kept lower, canned coffee mainly using elegant aromatic 'Coffee tree Arabica' became quite large in number.

Coffee liquid is extracted mainly by the drip method. Instant coffee or concentrated coffee extract is sometimes used, but is not mainstream. The acidity of coffee in liquid form increases after extraction (around 5.0 to 5.5 in hydrogen-ion exponents). Milk constituents react with a group of organic acids including chlorogenic acid to make protein unstable. Therefore, aggregation and precipitation may possibly occur so, pH is adjusted as close to neutral value (around pH 6.0 - pH 6.5) by adding sodium bicarbonate. Antioxidants such as "Vitamin C" are added to control flavor deterioration over the lapse of time.

Milk constituent

While milk constituent makes the taste of canned coffee mild, the higher its ratio, the more the flavor tends to differ from 'something coffee-like.'
Milk constituents used for canned coffee includes not only fresh cow's milk, but powdered milk, evaporated milk, and so on. Milk constituents are strictly controlled according to the "Ordinance regarding standard of element, etc. of milk and dairy products."

While "Cow's milk" is stored after refrigerated transport from a producer, it is necessary to take particular care to control storage due to its being quickly changeable in quality. Although a higher combination ratio of cow's milk or fresh cream improves the flavor, there is the risk of causing fat separation. Although "powdered milk" is easily transported and stored due to its high storage stability, it is unlike the essential flavor of milk. "Evaporated milk" had been frequently used for early canned coffee due to its low procurement cost and rich flavor, but after the 1990s when the trend changed to authentically-oriented coffee, it was removed from the mainstream.

If these milk constituents are oxidized by heat at the time of hot dispensing and become well deteriorated over a lapse of time, they give off an offensive smell, and so antioxidants including "Vitamin E" are added. At any rate, the flavor remains unchanged when heated within one to two weeks (Usually, the best before the coffee stored for one year after making), which is not long.


Sweeteners give sweetness to canned coffee. The standard amount of usage of sweeteners for canned coffee is 7.5 g of sugar per 100 ml as the industry's standard value established by the Japan Coffee Beverage Association and labels like 'Sugar content reduced by so and so percentage' is put in accordance with this rule. In recent years, the amount of usage of sugar has been on a declining trend and many 250 g cans contain close to the standard amount even today. However, in the case of 190 g cans, the general criteria are that standard cans contains the 6 g range, 'Low-sugar/moderated-sugar' the 4 g range and 'Trace-sugar' 2 g or so. In the case of these trace-sugar/low-sugar type canned coffee, artificial sweeteners are used many times in combination with sugar because its sweetness and constituents may lack stability when used alone. As there are some consumers who feel a 'lack of taste,' various efforts for improvement have been made to respond to increased trace-sugar needs.

While sugar has the most natural sweetness, it may possibly become a contaminant source of thermotolerant bacterium during the unprocessed stage. From the health aspect, causes of concern include high calorie, dental caries (cavities) and high blood sugar levels. While the type of sugar mainly used is from the sugar beet, superfine sugar is hardly used due to its problems of transport. "Isomerized sugar" frequently used for carbonated drinks and so on easily reacts with amino acid and may possibly generate a typical unpleasant smell when heated (Strecker degradation). Therefore, even if it is used, its component ratio is low. Furthermore, sweetness severely changes according to temperature, which is incompatible with canned coffee. Artificial sweeteners like "acesulfame-K" and "sucralose" mainly be used to add sweetness because trace-sugar coffee is considerably resistant to enzymes and microorganisms and are highly stable in their constituents. The calorie-free characteristics are trendy and, in recent years, there was contribution to the development of a new category 'Sugar-free coffee' with sweetness different from black coffee. Furthermore, as it has the property of increasing sweetness if it is used in even small amounts together with other sweeteners, the total amount of sweeteners can consequently be reduced. On the other hand, there are differences between the kinds of flavors people like. More especially, in products where the atmosphere is valued as canned coffee, a chemical-like impression may give a negative impression.

Flavoring agents

Flavoring agents are considered to be an important factor determining the nature of canned coffee. The flavor of coffee is delicate in that it is considerably vulnerable to heat and is volatile (especially, the heavy elimination of roasting-flavor). Therefore, it becomes necessary to supplement the lost flavor by flavoring agents in the case of canned coffee which passes through several heat-treatment processes. In many cases, coffee is prepared under the image of a 'room filled with the aroma of freshly-roasted beans' rather than flavor of coffee drink itself. Usually, a refined product as a base from the extract, essence extracted from roasted beans with water, solvents or supercritical extraction equipment, is mixed with an amount of synthetic flavoring agents as required. Flavoring agents are sometimes added to cover retort odor generated during high-temperature pasteurization and milk-flavor agents are supplementally used to improve the taste of the milk constituents.


Emulsifiers prevent separation between milk constituent and coffee liquid. As milk constituent is used to be frequently separated in the case of earlier canned coffee (called 'Ring' due to the constituent being attached to the interior wall of cans), cans had to be shaked before drinking, which became almost unnecessary due to the development of emulsifiers. Accidental rancidity caused by thermotolerant bacterium (genus Clostridium) occurred following the introduction of hot dispensing by vending machines. However, as it is substantially impossible to sterilize by heat, control was maintained by adding "Emulsion (Emulsifier on label)."

Major manufacturers in Japan and major brands

Georgia' is understood to be the top brand in market share of canned coffee.

Major producers in Japan

A producer means a contracted canning plant. Manufacture of soft drinks including canned coffee is divided into two categories, one by manufacturers' captive plants and the other by contracted OEM producer, and production came to be almost in equal proportions (2008). While company names of producers that manufacture major and private brands hardly appear on the labels in principle, some producers develop their own brand name products. These producers are not only an indispensable presence for beverage production, but are closely related to the history of the rapid growth of canned coffee.

The 1980s

A survey conducted by Kracie Holdings, Ltd. in 1980 showed that men from twenty to thirty and women in their early twenties had a high drinking rate. People who drank one or two cans a month were largest in number and some heavy users in their twenties drank six or more cans a month. Furthermore, a preference survey showed the highest support was given by teenagers. As above, canned coffee was shown to be preferred mainly by young people and so stimulating demand by middle-aged and elderly persons was considered to be an issue for the future.

The 1990s

In 1992, Suntory conducted a full-scale consumer survey before their development of a new brand "BOSS coffee." The survey showed that male persons accounted for eighty percent of consumers and, among them, consumption by heavy drinkers who drank one or more cans a day accounted for sixty percent of the total consumption. It became clear from the above that acquiring heavy drinkers was essential for the sales of canned coffee.

Heavy-user image

They are about twenty-five to thirty-five years old engaged in physical-labor occupations.

They are basically work-minded and lead comparatively well-regulated lives.

They are frequent viewers of television.

They don't have any particular disliking of sweets and know the difference in the tastes of canned coffee.

They distinguish brands as the main ones they drink daily and secondary ones they sometimes drink.

In preference, they choose more of the short cans and have determined the brands.

They purchase more from vending machines. As soon as a new predict appears on the market, they try it, and if disagreeable, they will not buy it again.

They clearly understand that canned coffee is one thing, and regular coffee another.

When to drink

They drink it on their way to work.

They drink it at work or on a break.

They drink it during smoking.

This marketing strategy targeting working males was a success, which influenced market orientation.

The 2000s

The situation of heavy-consumer repeaters who buy canned coffee is on a stabilization trend. On the other hand, canned coffee has not become widespread among females and young people so, manufacturers searched for a way to capture this category of customers.

The products in 190 g wide-mouth bottle cans first adopted in 2003 and used many in 2004 became popular among females due to its recapping function and design. However, it was temporary, did not take hold and kept decreasing. Furthermore, chilled-cup coffee put on the market in 1993 was closer to coffee-shop flavors than canned coffee was, through the influence of the Seattle-type coffee boom, represented by Starbucks Coffee. Due to the above, the product was chosen by females and the market expanded, which was a positive contributed to a stagnated canned coffee market.

As of 2008, main consumers of canned coffee were considered to be males from their thirties to forties and heavy consumers were defined as 'Persons who drink about three cans a day.'
In addition, as canned coffee consumers are aging, it continues to be an issue to capture the young male and female customers.

Canned coffee and recycling

Industrial wastes discharged from beverage plants manufacturing canned coffee are mostly coffee grounds generated by the extraction process. In the case of some small-scale plants, the amount discharged may not be enough to dispose by themselves and so they are sometimes compelled to ask a contractor to do this. There was a certain period of time during which hopes were placed upon instant coffee and coffee extracts that generate no grounds as raw materials, but they never became mainstream due to their being inferior to the drip method in quality. The matter of coffee grounds disposal had already become a concern in the 1970s when environmental pollution became an issue as a social problem and effective usage has been searched for until today. While malt and beer yeast discharged during the manufacturing process of beer belongs to one and the same category of taste-oriented beverages are high in reusable value, the usable range of coffee grounds is not as wide. As a popular measure, there is the reuse of coffee grounds as a soil improvement agent, but it is not necessarily effective due to an excessive gap between the amount discharged and the amount reused.

Examples of reuse

Compost (soil improvement agent)

Biofuel (Biocoke/biodiesel)

Raw material for mold

Activated charcoal (Disposable body warmer)

Variation of canned coffee

Coffee-containing carbonated drinks

Coffee-containing carbonated drinks tend to be put on the market periodically around the world. Although it furnished a topic of conversation due to its novelty and people's curiosity, personal preferences on its distinctive taste were sharply divided, and so it frequently finished selling without becoming a standard product.
Formerly in 1954, Torii Inryo produced it on a commercial basis under the name of "Coffee Cider," which is said to have gained public favor as 'A drink a whole family can enjoy after dinner.'
As a canned product, Art Coffee put it on the market under the name of "Coffee Squash" in 1975. It was sold as a remodeled product in 2005. In addition, Nestlé Japan "Coffee Squash" (1989), "Sparkling Café" (2006) and so on were put on the market. Outside Japan, it commonly became merged with Cola (Beverages) and PepsiCo "Pepsi-Kona" (1995), "Pepsi Kaffe" (2004), Coca-Cola "Coca-Cola Blāk" (2006) and so on were put on the market.

Flavored canned coffee

It is also called Dessert Coffee and so on. Flavored canned coffee with the flavor of almond or hazelnuts started being sold also in Japan around 1995 following the gourmet-coffee boom which had started in the West. None in this category achieved a success in making up a part of the genre and this particular trend rather developed in the chilled-cup market. This category includes Sapporo "Hazelnuts flavored Coffee au Lait" (1995), Dydo "Café a la Mode" (1995), Kirin Beverage "Fire Menthol" (2008) and Coca-Cola (Japan) "Georgia Salt Caramel Coffee" (2008).

Canned coffee with coffee beans

Kracie Foods started selling this under the name of "Bellme coffee beans pack" in 1977. The can inside was separated with a filter making it a double layer structure with real coffee beans being enclosed on the bottom, where coffee was directly extracted from the beans when heated in a vending machine.

In 1999, Takara Holdings started selling it under the name of "Coffee with coffee beans." Coffee beans are enclosed in the can in advance together with coffee liquid and milk. Then, coffee is extracted from the beans when heated by heat sterilization during the manufacturing process, by which the flavor and taste can be confined in the can.

Canned coffee with a heating function

In 1987, Ajinomoto General Foods put it on the market under the name of "Dandan Atsuatsu Coffee" (Gradually heated coffee). The heating system used for special containers of Japanese sake was adopted for canned coffee, which is designed to generate heat by inducing a reaction between calcium oxide and water.

Canned coffee containing oolong tea

In 1988, Morinaga seika started selling this product under the name of "Oolong coffee."

Penetration throughout the world

While Asian countries including Japan form the main market of canned coffee, Western countries remain a very small-scale market, where only a few types of coffee containing a little extra milk and sugar in cans equal to Japanese 350 ml cans sold by Japanese- and Asian-affiliated manufacturers. That may have been caused by the fact that Japan is a globally unparalleled country where a huge number of vending machines (selling soft drinks) installed outdoors and the fact that in the Western countries the culture of 'Ice coffee' is not familiar.
(Hot coffee prevails in the West.)
(However, cold coffee recently became established in urban areas of the United States as a result of the success of Starbucks Coffee.)
In the United States, mill-ground coffee beans in a powdery state (Regular coffee) and canned is called 'Can Coffee' (=>Waseieigo Japanese word constructed of elements from one or more English terms). Canned black tea is widespread as a very popular beverage in the United States.

Can collectors

There are no collector organizations for coffee cans in Japan as there are collector clubs for beer cans overseas including "Brewery Collectibles Club of America." However, there are many of individual collectors and a part of their collections can be seen on websites and so on. Even if some cans have a scarce value, however, movement for detailed systematization has not been active. Furthermore, although there may be some coffee-can collectors in other countries than Japan, they are estimated to be limited in extremely small number.


Due to the limited penetration (Penetration in the world) of canned coffee, Japanese drinking practices sometimes end up identifying a drinking person as a Japanese. At the time of the Korean Air Lines bombing incident, Kim Hyun-Hee's identity was discovered when, before drinking, she blew on her hot canned coffee received from a dispatched Japanese diplomat. Any Japanese regular drinkers rarely blow on his/her coffee even if it is hot. The practice 'To wait until cooling off without blowing,' the Western manner for eating stew and so on which has not been established here in Japan is conversely taking hold for canned coffee.

[Original Japanese]