poor scientist. will blog 4 food.

the culinary adventures of a self-described foodie

Japan: Land of Vending Machines


There are a lot of vending machines in Japan. Every block or so, there’s at least one vending machine, usually selling beverages (sodas, coffee, juice, tea, beer) but I also saw ones selling ice cream and, of course, ramen.  Since I’m addicted to coffee, and as a service to you, my readers, I tried at least one vending machine iced coffee a day. The average was about $1.50/can. Most were pretty good, but I have to say that the best kinds were not found in vending machines but in convenience stores. The convenience store coffees were a bit more pricey but they were a lot better — probably because they were fresher (and therefore, more expensive), and were free of the metallic taste that were sometimes found with the canned iced coffees.

A typical selection of coffee at a Japanese convenience store (middle 2 rows).

How did I choose which ones to get? Well, I tried to do what I could with my limited Japanese. I avoided the low sugar or sugar free ones. I also stayed away from any of the ones saying “MAX” on them, to avoid going into some caffeine-crazed tailspin. Mostly, I went for lattes. Sometimes I chose the coffees based on labels, such as the Boss Coffee Rainbow, since it seemed very happy and gay-friendly.

Some of my vending machine selections: The apple Teas' Tea was too sweet. Fire coffee was just OK. I liked the Boss Rainbow.

The collage below was taken from 5 vending machines side-by-side at a park/nature reserve area. So many choices!

Author: Jen

Howdy! My name is Jen and I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I like to eat, run, and blog, but not usually at the same time.

7 thoughts on “Japan: Land of Vending Machines

  1. I love that the grocery store coffees come in Starbucks-style cups. I also really really want to try Boss Rainbow coffee now!

  2. this is fascinating. do they really have milk? or soy?

    • Good question! My best guess is milk or cream in the convenience store coffees, and creamer in the vending machine ones. Neither gave me any problems, lactose-wise, so if there was milk, it wasn’t a ton.

  3. My husband lived in Japan for two years and he told me all about these crazy vending machines in Japan. He said he even saw a vending machine for dirty underwear!!! Craziness. But I really love that they have vending machines for just about anything. 🙂

  4. Now, being home and all, I am always slightly disappointed when I walk outside and don’t find vending machines everywhere.
    Those Japanese vending machines are seriously CONVENIENT. And I feel the same way as you, except for tea. 🙂
    And the Boss Rainbow Coffee looks DOES look happy and gay-friendly. I want one.

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