Sunday, December 14, 2008

Cup of Joe?

Wow. Who knew that finding decaf coffee in Japan could be so difficult? I mean, I guess I should have had some inkling what with this being a place where tea ceremonies are valued cultural experiences. I love tea, don't get me wrong. But it's coffee that I crave. I spent 8 years living in Seattle and I think I may actually have some coffee in my bloodstream.

The wrinkle is this - while breastfeeding, I've been trying to limit the amount of caffeine I ingest. On at least one occasion, I had an espresso beverage when Peanut was younger and we had 3 very long nights. I'm not positive it was the coffee, but I figured it can't hurt to switch to decaf and keep the potential factors for long nights to a minimum. Mothering is challenging enough without the sleep deprivation. And in the U.S. (especially Seattle) it's easy to find all kinds of delicious decaf alternatives. In October we arrived in Japan and I was merrily thinking life would continue on the same path we've been following, at least with regard to my warm beverage consumption. Only it turns out that Japan IS drinking coffee but it's a lot of "regular" coffee and almost no decaf coffee.

I love this bit from the UCC brand website about their future in coffee production in Japan: "Moving forward, we are committed to anticipating consumer wants and needs, devising new ideas for more pleasurable lifestyles accented with coffee, and promoting the further spread of "Good Coffee Smile". I would like some Good Coffee Smile please! But my good coffee smile should be slightly less caffeinated.

We've tried every grocery store and big name department store we can think of to no avail. Hence, every few weeks, someone in our family has been trekking to Tennoji or Namba to find a Starbucks which thankfully(!!) sells decaf coffee.

It's only now as I sit here writing this that it occurs to me to try the Foreign Buyer's Club. Why didn't I think of this before?!

I may have to check out the UCC Coffee Museum one of these days...


  1. lol...yeah, I don't know of any decaf coffees by Japanese companies, now that you mention it. I'd suppose the chains from overseas (Starbucks, or Tully's maybe?) would be the only places I'd know to check.

    Then again, I'm not much of a decaf drinker. I opted to go without coffee instead of settling for decaf when breast milk was the bulk of K's diet. I did sneak in a cup every now and then, but I'd try to give him milk that I pumped prior to, or formula if he needed to feed soon afterwards.

    Once he started solids and didn't rely on my milk as much, I gradually increased my coffee consumption. Luckily he didn't have any incidents of increased hyperness that coincided with my coffee drinking...

    Hopefully you'll get your Good Coffee Smile soon enough!

  2. One of the things I'm anxious about moving to Sweden about is not being able to get the foods I am used to.

  3. You might try The Flying Pig too. They don't have a membership fee!

  4. Really... I get the UCC and Nestle all the time.. they have decaf.. hm.... have you tried nestle yet? I remember you told me what area you live in.. do you have a Jusco near you?

  5. GirlJapan -We do have a Jusco somewhere around here. I'll check it out! Thanks for the tip!

  6. I just found your blog thru Kim! Yea! I'm in Nishinomiya in Hyogo ken. I've just recently started finding UCC ready-made coffee in PET bottles (97% caffeine free, because I'm breastfeeding, too) at Akachan Honpo, about 298 yen for a 900 ml bottle. It's pretty good! I just boiled some with some special spices last night and will put that recipe on my food blog, Mamatouille ( probably today or tomorrow. It was yummy! Hope you can find some decaf in your area.

  7. By the way, I'm adding your blog to my reader! It's fun to find other gaijin blogs in Japan. Our family blog is Come on over to our blog anytime! What part of Japan do you live in?

    Another by the way, we are thinking of moving to Seattle some time in the future!

  8. Hmmmm... that's a tough one. I don't have any insight into getting decaf coffee in Japan, of course. Although as a breastfeeding mom I do try to avoid caffeine as well, I think you should be okay if you are desperate for a coffee fix and there are no decaf options. I believe it leaves your milk at the same rate as it leaves your bloodstream. In other words, when you no longer feel the effects, neither will your little one. :)

  9. I am a decaff drinker, have been for many years. It can be frustrating. Just last night I was at an outdoor Christmas light event, went to the hot cocoa and coffee booth -- no decaff -- this was 8pm. I envy people for whom caffeine doesn't bother them.

  10. I drink instant coffee: Nescafe GOLDBLEND & below written in katakana Japanese: "caffeinless 97% caffeine cut"

    It is available at our local supermarket in the coffee section.