In Japan, the coffee industry is centered around convenience stores, known as konbini, where popular chains like Lawson and 7-Eleven are beacons of distinct culinary and social subcultures. The coffee wars began in 2008 when McDonald’s introduced an affordable, easily purchased coffee to the Japanese market. This led to a tight competition between major convenience brands, resulting in a slow consumption of canned coffee but also inspiring fast-paced take-out coffee innovation. The coffee sector in Japan is valued at $32.61 billion and growing, ranking fourth in terms of imported beans volume.
In 2011, Lawson’s introduced over-the-counter coffee beverages, followed by FamilyMart’s self-serve espresso station in 2012, and finally, 7-Eleven introduced its own delicious ¥100 coffee, improving both the taste and cost of its offerings. The coffee wars continue to evolve and compete fiercely for coffee custom to this day. While specialty coffee shops may offer the most exquisite cup, it’s always a good idea to visit a convenience store for a quick caffeine fix when in the country.
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