Odori Park, by Chris Watkins Odori Park - Blog

:: Java Jive ::

Before I lived in Japan, I was not a religious coffee drinker.

I had a cup from time to time, but it was the mid-day post-class cup of instant joe every day during my stint as an English teacher there that cemented the habit.
Odd that it was instant coffee. In fact, instant coffee seems to be the coffee of choice for most Japanese I’ve met. Probably because it’s more space-efficient than dedicating limited counter space to a coffee maker.

And (cue old man voice) they didn’t have Starbucks in Japan back in my day. If you went out for coffee, it was a sit-down chat-with-friends at the cafe experience. Guldarnit.

This was also the first time I ever had iced coffee. It seemed very novel. A few years later, back in the states, MacDonald’s started to sell iced coffee. But for me, it was a discovery. (And let me tell you: granular sugar is not designed for iced coffee. In Japan, order an iced coffee and you’ll get a little container of sugar syrup for your sweetening needs. Why haven’t we groked this concept yet?)

Milk tea was a similar revelation. I still enjoy a glass of milk tea from time to time, but just after I returned to the States, it was nearly a staple for me. A staple that, for some reason, totally freaked out my mother and sister, who couldn’t stomach the idea of pouring milk into a glass of iced tea (which is all milk tea is). I mean, loads of folks drink their hot tea with milk or cream. What magic property did the lower temperature have that caused such gut-churn? I still don’t know, but it was funny.

Point is: same drink, very different habits.

How does the rest of the world drink coffee?
How do you take your coffee?


  1. René

    Back in the days in China and Taiwan I was hooked on Milktea, too. Specially in the “Pearl Tea” (that`s what they call it in Canada), Milktea with small balls made out of flavoured riceflour. As you wrote they sweetened with syrup…could live on that for weeks. It was also cheap compared to the rip off at Starbucks in China that days.
    I am really enjoying your cartoons. I am married with a central asian wife and I see some parallels.
    René, from Germany!

  2. Chris

    Glad you’re enjoying the comic, René! Welcome aboard, and thanks for sharing. I didn’t realize milk tea was popular outside of Japan, but I should have assumed. So, is Pearl Tea the same thing as “Bubble Tea”? I’ve had that, and of course, really dig it.

  3. René

    Yep, it is…oh…so tasty…memories make me thirsty. And you cant get it here in Germany. I asked a friend to bring over some dried ones so I can cook them myself…it`s not the same!

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