Caffeinate on the cheap: your guide to Japan's chain coffee stores

When it comes to chain coffee shops, your mind may immediately go to one place - Starbucks. And whilst Starbucks in Japan is great, there are other options here too that are a bit more budget friendly - it's just about knowing what they are and where to find them.

Not only do they offer coffee, but a range of eats and drinks that are both convenient and tasty for the traveler on the go! So without further ado, here are five different chains you'll find around Japan that will give you both a caffeine fix and a bite to eat without breaking the bank!


Where you can find them:

The Pronto Store Locator is on their website here (in Japanese). 

Why they're awesome:

Free Wi-fi

Otherwise known as a traveler's BFF, Pronto stores have free Wi-Fi anywhere you see this logo displayed. You will need to pop in an email address the first time you use the service - but once you've registered that one time, you'll be good to go for three months at any of their stores. Convenient!

Delicious, tapas style eats

Pronto stores have a pretty robust menu full of goodies - with quite a European Style feel. There are a number of tapas-inspired sharing plates that are perfect if you're having coffee with a friend. 

Not just coffee - other drinks including alcohol

If caffeine is what you're after to give you that extra oomph for a full day of sightseeing, they've got you covered - but maybe you want to unwind at the end of that day with a beer, or a whiskey highball. Well, at Pronto stores you can do both. The prices aren't bad for the alcoholic bevvies either - around 500 yen. Sure, that's not as cheap as a can of booze from the convenience store, but if you want something while you're grabbing a bite to eat in store I don't think it's a bad price at all. 

Sausage and Egg Muffin Morning Sets!

And other morning set choices, of course - but if you usually get a sneaky McDonalds for breakfast as a treat every now and then, this might be the perfect morning fuel for your day of sightseeing. 


Where you can find them:

The Doutor Store locator can be found here (in Japanese) but Google Translate can assist!  

Why they're awesome:

Great morning sets

390 yen for a morning set? Super cheap, super filling, super happy budget! What's included in a morning set? They have several options for their sets, including a Ham and Egg salad sandwich and coffee, a Pastrami and Cheddar Cheese sandwich with coffee, or a German style hot dog with coffee. They sell those breakfast sets until 10.30am daily - brekky for under 500 yen is a sweet deal!

Fun seasonal items

If you're like me you enjoy a good limited time only option (it's fear of missing out, what can I say). Right now Doutor has a Frozen Hokkaido Melon Jelly drink - super refreshing for these hot summer days of late! They are always changing up the seasonal items on their menu, so it pays to stop by and check out what they have in store.

340 yen calzones!

Doutor has a couple of calzones on their menu that are only priced at 340 yen. Can't beat that for some quick Italian-style food on the go!

Stuff to take back to the hotel room with you

Headed past a Doutor to grab a bite to eat but know you'll need coffee in the morning to get that early flight or shinkansen? The stores sell iced coffee liquid, instant coffee granules, and even bags of coffee beans if you're staying somewhere you can use those at.


Where you can find them:

The Tully's store locator can be found here - and it's in English! Easy peasy! 

Why they're awesome:

Amazing frozen drinks

Starbucks has their frappucinos, Tully's has their version called the Swirkle. There are a range of flavors on offer at any time, but one of my favorites is the coffee jelly and matcha variety. Great for a cold pick me up after you've been pounding the pavement sightseeing all day!

Tasty sweets

You know what I love about chain coffee stores? When they don't feel like a chain, and instead feel like a fancy little cafe. The sweets on offer at Tully's will likely have you feeling this way too - with menu offerings like a vanilla lemon tart, an orange marble chiffon cake, New York style Cheesecake or affogato, you'll be surprised at how tasty the offerings are for the reasonable prices.

A kids menu

Parents...breathe a big fat sigh of relief along with me. I never knew how much I needed a kids menu until I became a parent myself, and if I'm out and about a lot of the time my food choices will be determined by whether or not a place has one. The Tully's kids menu has an option for a pancake with a bear face on it (which gives you a much higher percentage chance that your child will eat it - I'm right there with you!) and drink options like milk (regular or chocolate) and juice. There's also a small ice cream or a donut on their kids menu too, so whilst your littlies might be hopped up on sugar, they're going to be happy as clams while they enjoy their treat!

Side note - Tully's stores also have free Wi-Fi anywhere you see the sticker below. I've found that all the stores I've visited have had it available to me. They also note on their official website that some Tully's Coffee locations are registered as official Pokémon GO Pokéstops and Pokémon Gyms, which I thought was neat for them to point out!


Excelsior Caffe

Where you can find them:

You can find Excelsior Caffe stores at the store locator site here (in Japanese, but using Google Translate makes life easy!) 

Why they're awesome:

More budget friendly morning set options

Anywhere with a well priced meal to start the day off right gets the two thumbs up from me. Excelsior's offerings include choices like a marinated tuna and veggie panini sandwich, a croque monsieur sandwich (perfect if you like a warm breakfast!) and thick cut french toast. The sets all include a small sized drink, and they're all priced at under 500 yen. Gotta love those one coin wonders!

Speaking of paninis...

Excelsior have a great range of paninis available on their regular menu - with some seriously gourmet sounding choices. Cajun Chicken, Corned Beef and Camembert Cheese, and Marinated Salmon and Broccoli are just some of your options. Again, even the highest priced item on their panini menu right now won't set you back more than 500 yen. 

Great value pasta sets

Excelsior Caffe also have an extensive list of pastas in their repertoire too. From fettucine bolognese to the decidedly more Japanese pasta with cod roe and whitebait - and many more options in between - you're likely to find something that sounds good to you at a wallet-friendly price point. One of the most convenient parts is that you can either order the pasta dish on its own, or the pasta with a drink, or pasta + drink + soup. It's always nice being able to tailor the meal to just how hungry you are!

Side note - Excelsior Caffe also serve alcoholic beverages, with beer (including Guinness) and wine on offer. 


St. Marc

Where you can find them:

The St. Marc store locator can be found here (in Japanese).

Why they're awesome:

Tons of brilliant bakery goods

Wanted to try a curry pan (a real Japanese favorite!) on your travels? Perhaps a sweet croissant is more up your alley. St. Marc has a bunch of freshly baked offerings, and most of them will only set you back a couple of hundred yen (about $2-3 US dollars, roughly). 

Lunch sets that will keep your bank account in check

A lot of the other cafes lean towards breakfast sets - St. Marc though has some killer lunch set options, that also give you a cheap and complete meal. Their lunch sets include choices like a hamburger, chocolate croissant and drink (670 yen + tax), their "Addictive Dog" set (a pastry wrapped hot dog, chocolate croissant and drink) for 600 yen + tax, or a toasted sandwich, chocolate croissant and drink (550 yen + tax). Some places you'll find add the sales tax on afterwards - it will usually be indicated clearly on their menu, but it's an 8% sales tax, so just bear that in mind if anything on a menu says plus tax on it.

Fancy Coffees!

If you're a fancy coffee fan over plain drip coffee, St. Marc have some tasty ones on their menu. Tiramisu Lattes, Italian Cappuccinos, and Vietnamese Style Coffee (made with sweetened condensed milk - SO good!) are all choices you can make to give you that extra tasty pick-me-up.

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Armed with this information, you'll be able to get something tasty to eat and your caffeine fix at the same time - and best of all, without breaking the bank!

Enjoy Japan, and Safe Travels!

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