No-one wants ‘hotto koohii’


Summer in Osaka is hot and humid, to the point that people prefer June, which is the ‘rainy season’ (with regular downpours of rain) to the rest of the summer, and wish that July would never come and bring with it the 35 – 40 degree heat and 95% humidity.

The constant heat and humidity in July, August and September means that the thought of having a hot cup of coffee (hotto koohii) makes an additional row of sweat beads appear on one’s forehead (to keep company with the ones that are already there). This is the case in particular if you are outdoors, away from any cooling devices, such as air-con, draft from windows and/or doors or the cold aisle of a supermarket. This might be the reason why from June, for a three-month period, many drink vending machines stop vending hot coffee. No-one in their right mind would want to have hot coffee in the scorching heat.

Well, ok, if you are at an air conditioned apartment, cafe or a restaurant you might be tempted to have a cup of hot coffee, but this is not common – having hot coffee during the Osaka summer is essentially comparable to having hot mulled wine instead of a refreshing Gin and Tonic regardless of whether you are sitting in a bar or its beer garden.

If you are Finnish – and therefore belong to the group of people who are the biggest coffee drinkers in the world (yes, Finnish people drink more coffee per capita than any other nation in the world, including the Italians, Colombians, and the Americans) – not being able to have coffee is likely to be a problem. But not to worry if you are addicted to caffeine! Instead of hot coffee, you can have (a) cold coffee or (b) iced coffee.


(a) Walk to the closest vending machine/or convenience store and purchase a can of cold coffee



(b) Buy a cup of iced coffee at the convenience store.

This is how it’s done.

First you need to go to the frozen goods section, get a cup of ice and pay for it.



Once you’ve paid, you can fill your cup in a machine at the end of the counter.


Alternatively, you can buy a 1 litre bottle of ready-made cold coffee, place it in the fridge at work/home and fill your glass whenever it’s empty. However, the fact that the coffee in the bottle has been standing there for weeks tells me that it should not taste good. All you Finns know what I am talking about: if you don’t finish a pot of coffee within 30 minutes from brewing it you will throw it away and make a new pot, right? Come to think of it, this might be one reason why the Finns are in their own category when it comes to coffee consumption stats – instead of drinking it, they pour a lot of coffee down the drain. In any case, in Finland, old coffee is not something that a self-respecting coffee drinker would consider consuming. Note that my husband falls into the category of ‘non-self-respecting coffee drinker’ as he heats coffee from the day before in the microwave to have it with his breakfast, but then again he is British. I think old coffee tastes worse than your neighbour’s cat’s piss smells in the corner of your new veranda, but my husband doesn’t care. Tolerating unpleasant experiences (like old coffee, a day-trip to IKEA with two screaming children or having Monica Geller as his wife) probably makes him feel like a man.

If you go to a coffee shop, you get pretty much the same as you do in the convenience store.



It might be useful to know that instead of a sugar stick you get liquid sugar syrup to sweeten your iced coffee (or iced tea) with. I had never seen these before and a year ago when we had just moved to Japan my husband and I were baffled as to what the little tubs of clear liquid were. But it kind of makes sense to use the syrup instead given that granulated sugar dissolves in iced coffee as well as a slice of lime does in a G&T.

By the way, just for the record, I’m not a British bricklayer – I don’t use three tubs of sugar for my cup of coffee (35kcal/each).

But the bun’s mine.


12 thoughts on “No-one wants ‘hotto koohii’

  1. Can you function outside (without cooling devices like a body of water in which to immerse yourself) in that heat and humidity? I fear that I would find it very limiting, especially at an age when the body loses its much of its ability to adjust to extreme heat/cold or humidity. As for coffee, I, like your husband, qualify as a “non-self-respecting coffee drinker,” probably because (1) my first experience with coffee consisted of eight years of trying not to spill hot coffee on myself or passengers on ultra-long flights, which did not cause me to associate coffee with pleasure; (2) I did not start drinking coffee until I was in my 40s; and (3) I lack either the time or inclination to sit and savor the taste of coffee. I drink it because I love the smell of hot coffee and enjoy the frothy milk I add to it. In the summer (we’re just finishing a 2.5-week period of unusually high heat), nothing helps me cool off like a big glass of pure ice water. Thank you for yet another fascinating post, Leslie

    • Nice to hear you liked the post 🙂

      I struggle when it’s very hot and humid (like today). We’ll go back to Europe for August just to get away from the heat here. I can’t wait!

      Yes, ice cold water is great. For some reason, we can’t seem to get cold water in the tap here (during the summer), so we have a jug in the fridge. But I agree, water the best way to quench one’s thirst 🙂

  2. Love your blog! I wish they would adopt that sugar syrup packets here in Canada! Most places still want you to put in granulated sugar, which as you’ve point out, does not dissolve well. Mostly just hangs around the bottom of the cup and because I forget about it EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. my last sip is always just a straight shot of sugar (which you think would be delicious but it’s truly not). For the places that do have it, when I request half the base (I only like a little sugar in my coffee), the barista looks at me like I’ve asked them to explain quantum physics to me. Being able to add my own liquid sugar would bring much joy to my life.

    • It’s lovely to hear you like my blog 🙂 Thanks!

      Yeah, sugar syrup is such a simple solution to an annoying problem, yet it is something that most coffee shops, in England and Finland (and Canada and probably many other countries as well), do not offer. I wonder why. I mean, they make coffee making such a since nowadays and you’d imagine being able to dissolve the sugar in the coffee effectively would be on important criterion…

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