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What is a Kissaten?

Learn more about what a kissaten is, their history, and how to start your own.

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A kissaten is a Japanese-style tearoom that serves both tea and coffee. Learn more about what a kissaten is, their history and how to start your own.

What is a Kissaten?

kissaten is a Japanese tearoom that also serves coffee. It is different from a café, as many cafes in Japan can also function as a bar in that they serve alcohol. A kissaten puts a heavy focus on the coffee and tea being served.

What is the history of Kissatens?

The word ‘kissaten’ is derived from the kanji characters, “consume,” “tea,” and “shop” which means “tea-drinking shop.” Traditionally, a kissaten is a tearoom that serves coffee. But, these days, a typical kissaten serves coffee and light meals, in addition to tea. During the Showa Era (1929-1989) coffee became popular in Japan, thus, the kissaten appeared.

A kissaten was meant to be different from a café, which had become more of a social, celebratory atmosphere where people were loud, boisterous, and consumed alcohol. In the 20th century, kissatens developed in Japan as a quieter place for businessmen to drink coffee and converse in intellectual conversation.  Usually, a kissaten would also provide reading materials, such as manga, magazines, or newspapers.

After World War II, a different type of kissatens known as the “jazz kissa” grew popular as a place to listen to music. Other music-focused kissatens had a record player and would offer customers a chance to hear a variety of new music selections, thus making them a popular place to hang out for coffee and music listening.

What is typically on the menu at a Kissaten?

The main item sold at a kissaten is the coffee, but many offer food and other drinks. A typical kissaten may offer traditional light Japanese breakfast or lunch foods such as omelets and sandwiches. Other items might consist of miso soup, sides of rice or pickles, fried chicken or pork cutlets, yaki soba, and curry rice.

How do you start a Kissaten?

Before you start a kissaten, consider how you will set yours apart depending on the competition in your area.

But, to start any business, the first step is to write a business plan. Other steps include finding a location, securing financing, and designing your food menu. You will also need to obtain a health department permit, a food handler’s license, and a food sales permit, among other steps.

How much does it cost to start a Kissaten?

A kissaten is similar to starting a coffee shop as both are medium-sized spaces with seating and offer both beverages and food. On average, the cost to open a kissaten would be similar to the cost to open a coffee shop that has ample seating space, which costs between $80,000 and $300,000. 

The total costs for starting a coffeehouse will vary depending on your size and the type you wish to open.

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