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What is Sumiyaki Coffee? It’s a type of coffee that is roasted using charcoal instead of the standard gas burner. Between the two, Sumiyaki is rare, but it’s definitely worth a try if you can get your hands on it. Sumiyaki coffee is said to be a more premium type of coffee—usually more expensive than non-Sumiyaki roasted varieties. According to coffee experts, Sumiyaki coffee allows the natural flavor of coffee to shine through due to the techniques and technology deployed during the roasting process. If combined with the appropriate brewing technique, the final product has an aroma, depth of flavor, a lot less acidity, and without the burnt taste that gas burner-roasted coffee beans may have.

What is Special About Charcoal Sumiyaki Coffee Roasting? 

Sumiyaki is a Japanese roasting technique that uses Binchotan charcoals. Essentially, beans are roasted through hot air, high temperatures and yields light to dark roast coffee. The conventional roasting method that uses gas burners involves direct contact with high temperatures, whereas Sumiyaki roasting exposes beans to lower temperatures. When it comes to the perfect cup of coffee, the method of roasting dramatically affects the flavor—it’s not just the method of brewing.

When charcoal roasting, the coffee beans are exposed to lower temperatures but for a more extended period. Roasting in charcoal brings out a smokiness, deeper flavor. The beans come out evenly roasted from the inside to the outer layers due to the far-infrared rays that are released when brewing (2). Some say that Sumiyaki coffee beans have a “fluffy” texture because it is roasted all the way through. Gas-burner roasted beans (if not done well) can result in coffee beans that are tough and burned.

Freshly Roasted Beans

Photo courtesy of Japanese Coffee Co.

This method also allows beans to have a longer shelf life by slowing down the rate of deterioration of the coffee beans. As a result, the beans do not oxidize as quickly, so the flavor and aroma are kept longer.

The most used roasting method is by using a gas burner. It roasts the beans from the outside, but unlike Sumiyaki, it does not have the infrared and far-infrared rays that can penetrate the beans. With gas burner roasting, there is always the possibility of uneven roasting of each bean. Beans can be burnt on the outside and, when brewed into coffee, can result in an acidic and burnt taste. These intense flavors can overpower the unique flavor of the beans.

What Makes Charcoal Roasting Expensive?

Charcoal roasting is more time-consuming, labor-intensive, and requires the use of a specific type of charcoal. Charcoal roasted coffee is more expensive because of the technique and materials used (1). Sumiyaki coffee is usually roasted using Binchotan charcoal. Binchotan charcoal is said to be one of the best types of charcoal to use for roasting. It is of high quality, long-burning, and does not contain additives and odor that can affect the final product.

Sumiyaki Roasting

Photo courtesy of Japanese Coffee Co.

The process of making Binchotan charcoal is also a highly specialized task; it takes a specific skill set to use it because of the strong heat to process a particular type of wood. In addition, it is made from a particular kind of wood. Activated Binchotan can melt steel (3).

Charcoal Sumiyaki Coffee Roaster

Photo courtesy of Japanese Coffee Co.

The trick to making Sumiyaki coffee is to maintain the right temperature and regulate the strength of the flame. Much like processing the charcoal, Sumiyaki roasting needs to be done by a skilled professional. Aside from hiring a capable roaster, high-quality roasting equipment is also required. The labor-intensive process of making the charcoal, the roasting process, and the special equipment required makes all add up to make Sumiyaki coffee a little more expensive than the usual coffee beans you’ll find in supermarkets.

Uniquely Japanese

The Sumiyaki roasting technique originates from Japan, where it is also the most popular and readily available. It is one of the distinct brewing styles that sets the Japanese coffee culture apart from the rest of the world.

One can say that Sumiyaki coffee has a niche market. While it is readily available at any café in Japan, Sumiyaki coffee is harder to come by at cafes abroad. Japanese Coffee Co and UCC are some of the companies that actively promote Sumiyaki coffee by making it available online for purchase.

What Happens When Charcoal Roasting

Charcoal roasting is a complex process. During roasting, some chemical reactions take place that yields a high-quality final product. Here is a rundown of the processes that take place:

  1. Charcoal roasting eliminates excess water in the coffee beans. The moisture causes the acidic taste. Because of the chemical reaction taking place during the roasting, its heat is able to penetrate the core of the beans and get rid of the water.
  1. The coffee beans are baked evenly from the core to the outer layers. This helps produce coffee that has a well-rounded flavor due to the complete and even roasting process.
  1. The integrity of the coffee beans is not compromised. Gas burner-roasted beans tend to have a deep, bitter and burnt taste. With Sumiyaki coffee, the flavor of the coffee beans is maintained and has lesser than the usual acidic taste.


As remarkable as Sumiyaki is, it does have some disadvantages such as:

  • Roasting is a complex process. It’s a new, albeit niche, method that is different from how coffee beans are traditionally roasted.
  • The preparation is quite labor-intensive. Japan is known for producing high-quality products. This principle applies to Sumiyaki coffee roasting. It takes a lot of training and experience for a person to master the technique, which entails an investment of money and time.
  • It requires a complete setup of special equipment that needs to be purchased before you attempt this roasting style. This adds to the cost of manufacturing and preparing Sumiyaki coffee.
  • Ordering Sumiyaki coffee from a café is more expensive than usual brewed coffee. Those who are casual coffee drinkers who are not too fussy about the type of beans and roasting methods used may find that it’s not worth the extra bucks.
  • Roasting conditions are hard to control. Roasters need to purchase a roasting machine and train so that they can roast beans correctly. This method is also particular about setting and maintaining the right temperature. Given that a burning Binchotan charcoal can melt steel, it will take an expert to do the process correctly.

Sumiyaki Coffee is Worth It

Whether you are drinking Sumiyaki coffee as a coffee expert who is well-versed in the different types of beans, roasting methods, and brewing techniques, or a novice who is looking to try something different from a regular cup of joe, Sumiyaki is worth a try.

Most of us have settled for badly brewed coffee from convenience stores and office pantries–it would not hurt to try something so novel and unique.

The market of Sumiyaki continues to grow and has moved beyond its novelty. Those who want to taste the crisp and clean flavor of their drink should switch to Sumiyaki coffee. It’s more readily available these days in specialty cafes and online at the Japanese Coffee Co.

Japanese Coffee Co – Mandheling Berkat Lintong, Indonesia – Arabica, Typica – Single Origin

Mandheling Berkat Lintong

Photo courtesy of Japanese Coffee Co.

Sumiyaki from Mandeling Berkat Lintong using beans that come from a district in Sumatra. The coffee trees are planted under the best conditions. The soil is fertile and free from chemicals with sufficient space between each plant. The coffee plants are cultivated using traditional Sumatran methods; each coffee cherry is hand-picked prior to roasting (4).

Taste Notes:

Mandheling coffee in known for having deep and rich flavor, this one is quite the opposite. It has nice rich aroma but has a neat, unadulterated flavor, and a clean mouthfeel. It seems paradoxical, but one can appreciate that it has a depth of flavor (full-bodied), but has a clean taste.

Why you should try it: 

The beans are roasted in Japan using their technology and technique. It is a unique roast that was done using the best roasting technique. The coffee, if brewed well, has a crisp and clean taste. Coffee lovers will be able to appreciate the complexity of the coffee. If you’re looking to try this delicious coffee use our coupon code below.

Japanese Coffee Co – Single-Serve Pour-Over Disposable Filter Bag Combination Set

Single-Serve Pour-Over Disposable Filter Bag Combination Set

Photo courtesy of Japanese Coffee Co.

Sumiyaki coffee packed in single-serve drip coffee bags is the most convenient way to have good quality coffee. One set includes a variety of Sumiyaki-roasted beans. Leave a box by your office desk or take it with you when traveling. There’s no need to limit yourself to instant or overly sweet, bottled coffee from the supermarket if you don’t want to.

Here’s a rundown of the types of coffee it comes with:

  • Mandheling Berkat Lintong – Single Origin Coffee– Indonesia (Arabica Typica) – has a clean, crisp taste and a strong aroma. Expect it to be different from the coffess that come from this region.
  • Bali, Mt. Batur – Single Origin Coffee– Indonesia (Arabica Catuai) – has a rich and smoky flavor but it is complemented by a fruity flavor. This variant has a smooth mouthfeel.
  • Pital Mountain – Single Origin Coffee– Colombia (Arabica Caturra) – with one sip, coffee drinkers will be able to appreciate the fruity taste and citrus notes. As with other coffees from Colombia, this one complies with the high standards of Colombian coffee drinkers.
  • Cerrado Shimada Plantation – Single Origin Coffee – Brazil (Arabica Catuai) – has a full-bodied flavor, a touch of smokiness with some bitterness that does not overwhelm the senses. It’s a well-balanced cup of coffee.
  • Decaffeinated – Premium Blend Coffee (Colombia, Brazil, Ethiopia) – decaffeinated coffee is often overlooked because it does not have the caffeine kick (which is why people drink coffee in the first place) and usually tastes a little watered-down. This cup has a clean yet rich flavor despite being devoid of caffeine.

Why you should try it:

The premium quality drip bags makes up for the slightly higher price tag. You can order a sample pack of 5 bags with different coffee beans or order the bulk order set with up to 40 bags. Having the coffee packed in individual servings takes the guesswork out of trying to find the correct coffee to water ratio (5). Plus, it makes for a perfect gift.

Final Thoughts

When we talk about Sumiyaki Coffee, we’re talking about high-quality roasting techniques that yield expertly roasted beans—with the use of high-quality beans, you can’t not enjoy this cup. If other roasted coffees tend to have that burnt and bitter taste, Sumiyaki coffee provides an experience that has a balanced flavor.

Fresh Cup of Coffee

Photo courtesy of Japanese Coffee Co.

Everyone should try Sumiyaki coffee at least once in their life, whether it’s at a cafe in Japan or in single-serve packs you buy online. While Sumiyaki is still very much a niche product that attracts coffee enthusiasts and experts, it is slowly but surely gaining a cult following thanks to the creative ways by which it is sold (i.e., single-serve disposable packs, instant, etc. ). Sumiyaki coffee is actually quite simple and straightforward. Due to the sophisticated technique and technology that is used for roasting, consumers are guaranteed a good cup every time they have it.


What is Sumiyaki Coffee

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