Monday, May 2, 2011

Free Breakfast with Coffee

Japan has been home for nearly two years. Though I am unable to claim familiarity with every custom, by now, there are scenarios where surprise is unexpected. For example, ordering a beverage at a coffee shop.

Last year I took my first trip to Nagoya, Japan's 4th largest city. Just before going, friends told me something pleasantly unusual about the area coffee shops; upon ordering a cup of java, breakfast was free.

Inconceivable–a free drink, with purchase of a meal, might be expected anywhere, but in Nagoya, the reverse occurs? On my first trip there, I saw signs advertising the free-breakfast-with-coffee phenomenon, but was unable to partake of it, due to time constraints.

Recently, I had occasion to go to Nagoya again. It sounds silly–and it was not at all the focus of my journey–but, I was looking forward to getting something for nothing in breakfast-form.

Finally, I had my chance. I went to Komeda's Coffee in Nagoya Station. Holy mackerel–the legends were true–and it was better than I ever imagined. The meal came free with the purchase of any beverage–a pleasant surprise to this coffee-hater. There was a wide array of choices available including teas, shakes and soups.

For my beverage, I ordered corn soup. I was delighted at the wonderful taste, especially as it initially looked lackluster. They also brought a hard-boiled egg, still in the shell, and a half piece of toast. In Japan, bread is cut quite thick. The portion may not sound generous, but it was equivalent to about 1 slice of bread in the US, making the meal perfectly sized for breakfast. It was delicious, and indeed, all for the ordinary price of a drink at a coffee shop.

WHY is there free breakfast with coffee? I wondered the same. Apparently, there was stiff competition between cafés. Komeda's Coffee, the very chain where I experienced bargain-lover's bliss, started offering free breakfast. Other shops followed suit.

I could not find out why it localized mostly in the Nagoya Metro area. (Although, there are Komeda's locations nationwide; you may be able to experience breakfast, the Nagoya way, in a prefecture near you). Free breakfast should catch on everywhere. Indeed, Japanese out-of-towners were in line with me, excited to try the famed special. For now, its geographic exclusivity remains a mystery. If you find yourself in Nagoya, wander into a coffee shop and see what surprise comes with your drink.


  1. Sounds delicious! I'm glad they don't limit you to just coffee too. I've never heard of free breakfast with drink around here! ;o;

  2. It was delicious! They had so many drink choices; it was really surprising!