Coffee. For some, it’s a daily necessity, for others it’s simply an occasional pick-me-up. Some like it when each bean is carefully chosen before being ground by hand and then slowly dripped over a 19th-century porcelain cup, while others will drink it from a can that comes out of a vending machine. Regardless of how you like your coffee, Tokyo’s booming coffee culture has plenty to offer.
Since the early 2010s, the coffee race has been especially fierce between coffee shop chains and convenience stores — both offering affordable, not entirely horrendous cups of coffee to customers in a rush. Things really took off in 2013, increasing Japan’s coffee consumption to the highest it had been in six years. Since then the combini have upped their coffee game increasing both the quality and variety of their products. With many convenience stores also offering eat-in spaces, they’re making serious moves into traditional coffee shop territory. We don’t see this combini coffee trend dying out anytime soon.
Which brings us to the question, which combini coffee is Japan’s favorite? Between April and May 2019, almost 3,000 individuals were asked what their favorite convenience store coffee was on the NTT Docomo Minna no Koe survey site convenience store coffee japan ranking— the results may surprise you.
5 Mini Stop
Coming in last, Mini Stop didn’t have many fans. Only 3% of the votes (72 people) considered it their favorite. On paper, Mini Stop’s selection looks great. They have fair trade coffee at select stores, and American coffee for those who prefer a weaker brew. Perhaps it’s a matter of availability, as Mini Stop stores aren’t always the easiest to find. Having never had their coffee, we can’t comment on the flavor.
4 Family Mart
Family Mart comes in fourth place, though this may change as the chain has recently rolled out new machines in its stores, offering a stronger cup of black coffee and more latte-style options. Perhaps it’s Family Mart’s wide selection — including frappes of various flavors — that lets it down, as people have other drinks to choose from besides coffee.
A strong contender out of the major convenience store chains, Lawson is appealing to a select few because of its mega ice coffees, giant-sized caffeine bombs that are perfect for summer. However, Lawson does seem to lose out on convenience as — depending on the store — staff assistance is required in varying amounts. This makes service slower, though it does add a personal touch to it, which is what Lawson is going for. Having said that, Lawson came on top in a ranking done by Saving Story (a Japanese website about frugal living), which considered cost, flavor and how much coffee was actually in each cup.
With “other” as first runner-up, there are a lot of potential candidates, but we assume it’s a mix of Circle K Sunkus, NewDays and Bellmart (the latter two are found mostly inside train stations). We can only speculate which one of these is on top but with a total of 455 votes, this group is a popular choice.
1 Seven Eleven
Number one! It may be unsurprising to know that not only was 7-Eleven’s coffee the top pick among Minna no Koe survey respondents, but it’s also Japan’s top seller. 7-Eleven sells an average of 130 cups of coffee per day per store, raking in almost 4 billion yen a year. The company has made continuous efforts to improve both coffee quality and serving speed, shaving a full 6 seconds to its coffee making time. It was also the most popular choice for Shirabee (a news site) readers, as well as among Tokyo Weekender readers on Twitter. See our reader ranking below:
TW Twitter Readers Survey: 74 votes
Family Mart 30%
Other (unknown) 10%
With decent coffee starting at ¥100 a cup, it’s no surprise that convenience store coffee is a popular choice for caffeine lovers on the go.
What your favorite convenience store coffee? Do you agree with the survey ranking?