History of Coffee in East Asia

Running Head: History of Coffee in East Asia 1
History of Coffee in East Asia
Student’s Name
History of Coffee in EAST Asia 2
In Japan, Coffee is the most popular drink. The other alternatives include black and
green tea. The coffee shops all located everywhere in Tokyo cities and all other cities in Japan.
The Dutch in Nagasaki introduced the first coffee in Japan during the Edo period (1903-1868).
During this period, the consumption of coffee was not popular since it was only available to
governors, businessmen and translators. During the Meiji period (1868-1912), the Japanese
government allowed people to have access to coffee. The first coffee shop was launched in
1888 in Ueno, Tokyo but the coffee sold was still expensive, and only the rich could afford,
due to lack of supplies, the first shop had to be closed. Then came the Taisyo period (1912-
1926) where Café Paulista had access to cheap Brazilian coffee. The cheap coffee led to more
people getting to taste, and since then the number of coffee shops and consumers has increased
gradually (Choo, 2013).
Before the wake of the 20t Century, Korea was known for its tea-based culture.
However, today, it is known very much as a coffee society (Gray, 2015). This raises the
question “how did that happen?” According to Lee Hoyoung, a historian in Sookmyung
University, different people have positively influenced the popularity of coffee in Korea.
However, the main influence was that of Emperor Sunjong (the second the last emperor in
Korea) who served between 1907 and 1910. During his final year, Japanese abolished the
empire forcing Sunjong and his family to flee to Changdeokgung Palace where they spent the
rest of their lives. At the palace, he would pass the time by preparing western dinner parties
with the western-plate and a silver setting. Foods prepared were mostly the rare foods in Korea
like potatoes, steak or roasted beef. They also liked to be served the food on western tables
unlike in their culture where food was served on the floor. The western culture was quite
History of Coffee in EAST Asia 3
revolutionary to them and a special honor for the emperor to be able to dine in that manner
(Ho-Jung, 2017).
Emperor Gojong and his dad would then drink coffee after the dinner. The other
members of noble families would later join them, and they all loved the experience. The taste
of the coffee was deep, bitter, and with a different effect compared to tea and the oriental
medicine of that era. Since the emperor started coffee, the people associated it with aristocracy
(Gray, 2015).
When the Japanese found out about Emperor’s love for coffee, they tried to kill him by
poisoning his drink, but their plan failed after their plan was uncovered. Similarly, after the
Korean War in 1953, the coffee industry enlarged. Most of the coffee shops featured very
attractive young women. The coffee shop served as salons for many businesspersons and as
gathering places for artists and students. By 1959, more than 3000 coffee shops had been
established in Korea with a third of them located in Seoul (Gray, 2015).
In 1976, Dongsuh foods introduced a three-in-one coffee, which comprised of sugar,
coffee, and powdered cream mix sticks. Which led to the introduction of coffee in homes and
offices. If the three ingredients are combined in the right proportions, it is easier for any Korean
to enjoy coffee anytime any place. In fact, after the financial crisis in 1997, instant coffee
became a staple in offices as companies were forced to downsize to secretarial staff (Ho-Jung,
According to the Dongsuh Foods, their marketing strategies helped instant coffee to
dominate the market making Korea the biggest consumer of instant coffee in the world during
this time. In 1999, the Korean culture shifted again to the US brand called espresso coffee.
Starbucks Coffee, a retail giant Shinsegae first located in front of Ewa Woman’s University,
History of Coffee in EAST Asia 4
introduced this type of coffee. This new culture of takeout espresso coffee emerged among the
people in Korea. Other takeout brands that followed include the Tea Leaf, Coffee Bean as well
as a Twosome Place and Hollys Coffee (Gray, 2015).
Nowadays, in Korea, the coffee trend is usually for the in-house roasted coffee.
However, people do this in small batches, and one batch is usually around 7-14kg. Café
Anthracite located in Hongdae has increased his production to 70-100 kg at a time. Café
Anthracite supply coffee to most of the hotels and local shops. There was room for expanding
further, but roasters seemed interested more in the craft and not the business itself (Gray, 2015).
Coffee Club Seo Duk Sik is another famous café located in Seoul. It has been in operation for
more than 20 years. Kaldi Deoksik, one of the pioneers in dripping and roasting of coffee in
Korea started it. They have opened more cafes in Korea, and they offer training on how to roast
coffee for best results. The number of cafés in the region has increased tremendously since the
year 2000. In 2005, there were only 800 cafes in Seoul, and by 2012, the number had increased
to 12,381 cafes. The Korean culture has grown, and there are schools, which provides training
on how to pull a shot of espresso and froth milk properly (Ho-Jung, 2017).
The Starbucks Coffee, being the front-runner, has grown at a meteoric pace with more
than 1000 stores in Korea and were able to make $674.5 million in sales by December 2015.
The Starbucks is also the front-runners in Japan followed by the Doutor Coffee. (Ho-Jung,
The capsule machine makers are now in pursuit to capture the market of consumers
who want to enjoy espresso coffee at the comfort of their homes or offices all over Korea.
These machines will replace the sugar three-in-one mixes since the capsule machine uses small
sealed pods full of ground and pre-roasted coffee to create the espresso coffee (Gray, 2015).
History of Coffee in EAST Asia 5
The Capsule coffee machine maker was first launched in Korea in 2007 by the Nestle
under the name Nespresso line. Other brands that jumped into the competition include Miele
Coffee and Korean companies like Maeil and Namyang Dairy Products (Gray, 2015).
Nescafe Dolce Gusto, a capsule coffee maker company, commissioned a survey in 2015
for women between the ages of 25 to 44 years to establish their coffee consumption at both
office and workplaces. They discovered that 63 percent of the women consumed roasted and
ground coffee at work and more than 55 percent used capsule coffee machine maker (Ho-Jung,
According to Maria Teresa Mendes, the Business Executive Officer at Nescafe Dolce
Gusto confirmed that based on the current trends, the use of coffee in Korea would go beyond
the work places to homes. During a conference in 2017, Teresa told the press and I quote "I
truly believe that once Korean consumers understand the system and experience it on their
own; they'll understand the advantage of having the system.”
Coffee, however, as much as it is a popular drink used by Koreans to get their caffeine
fix, it is not the only caffeinated drink in Korea. Other beverages that are sold to people that
contain caffeine include tea, energy drinks and soft drinks (Ho-Jung, 2017). To some extent,
some beverages are describing themselves as freely as caffeine addicts. Even without drinking
coffee, such drinks can make consumers use more than the recommended intake of caffeine.
Korean agencies like the Korea Consumer Agency have therefore set standards that should be
followed to ensure caffeine intake is controlled (Gray, 2015).
History of Coffee in EAST Asia 6
Choo, D. (2013, June 03). Japan Coffee Culture. Retrieved from Danny Choo Website:
Gray, D. (2015, July 17). The History of Coffee in Korea. Retrieved from Fiera Milano:
Ho-Jung, W. (2017, Feb 03). A history of coffee in Korea. Retrieved from Korea Herald:

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