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UCC’s Charcoal Roasted Coffee

UCC’s Charcoal Roasted Coffee – The perfect blend of heritage, exceptional flavor, and a unique roasting technique 

From the outside, UCC’s charcoal roasted coffee might appear to be a humble packet of coffee, but in reality, it is much more than just a commodity to be enjoyed. It is a product that represents the uniqueness and outstanding quality of Japanese coffee products and is steeped in the rich history of coffee in Japan. It tells an extraordinary story of passion and perseverance - how one man’s vision to Deliver flavorful coffee to as many people as possible anytime and anywhere starting as a small shop in Kobe has grown into a global coffee company over almost a century. And most fascinatingly, it tells the story of how Sumiyaki charcoal roasting, a unique Japanese coffee roasting technique that was previously unknown and unappreciated is now being marketed and enjoyed all over the world as a major part of UCC’s line of coffee products.

It would be impossible to fully appreciate UCC’s charcoal roasted coffee without having an idea of the company behind this long-selling product, and the unique coffee roasting method used to create the incredibly rich and smoky flavor that makes it so special. Hence we recommend you to come along with us on this fascinating journey where we will tell you everything you need to know about UCC’s charcoal roasted coffee, and also introduce you to the various products within this category that you can start to indulge in afterward.

Let’s waste no time and jump right in!

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UCC – What makes this company a core contributor to Japan’s coffee scene?

UCC stands for UESHIMA COFFEE CO., LTD., and it has been a pioneer and a forerunner in many aspects when it comes to the coffee industry in Japan. It was established in 1933 as a shop that sold Western food and beverages “Ueshima Tadao Shoten”, in Kobe by Ueshima Tadao.

UCC’s Charcoal Roasted Coffee – The perfect blend of heritage, exceptional flavor, and a unique roasting technique

When it comes to coffee products, UCC has always been one step ahead of the rest, coming up with ingenious and innovative products. It was the company behind the world’s first canned coffee, which was created by the founder himself in 1969, and is now a product that is popular all over the world. UCC's canned milk coffee drink has set the Guinness World's record of "Longest-selling ready-to-drink canned coffee” status as it has been being sold for more than 49(!) years. UCC was also the first company in Japan to start selling vacuum-packed ground coffee. Currently, UCC offers a wide range of more than 2500 coffee-related products including ready-to-drink drinks, instant coffee, whole and ground coffee beans, single-serve coffee pods, and even coffee-making machines and equipment.

Apart from innovating and popularizing novel coffee products, UCC has a big contribution to research, development, and education related to coffee. It has numerous coffee academies and training institutions. It also has a coffee museum in Japan where the general public can learn about the history, science, and art of coffee.

Not only does UCC own the top market share in the Japanese coffee industry, but it also runs numerous operations including ventures, company offices, cafes, institutions, and shops in over 20 countries and regions all over the world.

Another major factor beyond the high quality of UCC’s coffee products is UCC’s coffee estates. It was a crucial part of the founder’s vision to be directly involved in not only the manufacturing of coffee products, but in the coffee bean’s origin, and to take an active part in the growth and cultivation process of coffee beans. He wanted to create a stable supply of the world's top-quality raw coffee beans from their country of origin to Japan. In 1981, UCC's first directly managed coffee estate was opened in Jamaica, from where Jamaica's Blue Mountain coffee (one of the most sought-after coffee beans in the world) would be supplied to Japan. This UCC-run Blue Mountain Jamaican coffee estate was also the first Caribbean coffee farm to become Rainforest Alliance certified, and as a result, UCC became the first in Japan to sell certified sustainable coffee. Currently, UCC is one of the largest integrated coffee producers in Japan, running three coffee plantations in Jamaica, Hawaii, and Indonesia. These plantations are all directly managed by UCC, which ensures the high quality of UCC’s coffee products.

As you can see, apart from being the oldest and the biggest coffee supplier in Japan, UCC has played major roles in the building of culture, technology, industry, agriculture, and education of all things related to coffee.

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UCC’s Sumiyaki Charcoal Coffee Roasted Coffee Products

The Japanese word “Sumiyaki” means “charcoal roasted”. Most of us are probably aware of the fact that raw coffee beans have to be "roasted" before they can be brewed or be turned into the ground or powdered coffee form from which we can extract or make our favorite coffee beverages. But are we aware of charcoal being used as a heat source to roast coffee? Probably not. The most common roasting techniques when it comes to coffee are "Hot-air roasting" and "Direct-fire roasting". However, there is another roasting technique that is quite popular in Japan but is lesser-known in other parts of the world, and it is exactly this technique that UCC uses to make its special charcoal roasted series of products with an exceptionally rich aroma and taste and a distinct smoky flavor. This technique is charcoal coffee roasting, a roasting technique that uses charcoal as the heat source to roast coffee beans.

UCC’s Charcoal Roasted Coffee

UCC has been promoting this technique by being the only large-scale manufacturer of coffee products made using the charcoal roasting method. UCC first started its nationwide sale of charcoal roasted coffee products in 1983, and since then, it has released many products in various categories featuring this roasting technique. We will introduce these products to you in this article, but first, let’s take a look at what makes this roasting technique special compared to the conventional methods.

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What makes Charcoal Roasted Coffee so Special?

Several aspects make charcoal coffee roasting such a unique and preferable method over the conventional methods

In terms of the roasting process:

  • When charcoal is burned, it gives off Infrared and Far Infrared Rays. These electromagnetic emissions reach deep into the core of the coffee and heat the coffee beans from the inside, creating a plump and 'fluffy' finish.
  • These rays also mean that the coffee beans are roasted evenly throughout without creating any burn spots which mean the resulting roast will have a balanced, well-rounded taste and flavor when brewed.
  • The roasting can be performed at a temperature lower than the other roasting techniques avoiding a burnt bitter taste.
  • It effectively removes any unwanted moisture from within the coffee beans which removes any unpleasant acidity, taste, and flavor along with the water content, resulting in a smooth, clean, final cup.

In terms of the quality of aroma, flavor, and taste:

  • Charcoal has an inherently pleasant, smoky flavor which is imparted to the coffee beans when they are roasted using charcoal. The resulting cup will have rich dark chocolaty notes, a pleasant smoky and savory flavor, and a mellow bitterness.
  • Charcoal roasting can be done using a lower temperature, which means it preserves the original qualities of the coffee beans even when it is used to create medium to dark roasts. As the original flavor composition of the coffee beans is kept intact, it is an excellent roasting technique for roasting high-quality specialty coffee beans with unique flavor and taste profiles.
UCC’s Charcoal Roasted Coffee
  • When the heat from the charcoal burning reaches the core of the beans, it tends to decrease the ‘sourness’ of the coffee, creating a well-balanced cup of coffee.
  • Overall, a cup of coffee brewed from charcoal roasted coffee has the perfect balance of sweetness and bitterness enhanced by a profound depth that is created by the savory and smoky notes of charcoal. Also, the mouthfeel is smooth, and full-bodied, which means each sip of coffee has depth and richness.

In terms of preservation of freshness for a longer time

  • When charcoal is burnt, a large amount of Carbon monoxide is given off which effectively delays the oxidation process responsible for the deterioration of roasted coffee beans. This means that charcoal roasted coffee can retain the freshness of flavor, taste, and aroma for a longer time, and has a longer shelf life than coffee roasted using other techniques.

In terms of culture and heritage

  • Charcoal is an integral part of Japanese cuisine and hence anything made using charcoal has a notion or image of having an artisanal quality and belonging to the rich Japanese culture and heritage.
  • Japan has some of the world's best charcoals, for example, Binchotan charcoal. This activated charcoal is regarded to be the best charcoal for cooking and roasting, and has zero moisture content, allowing it to reach a very high temperature and to maintain it for a long time once ignited. It means very stable roasting conditions can be achieved using this charcoal which is a highly desirable trait for coffee roasting.

Now that we know the exceptional qualities of charcoal roasted coffee, let’s go ahead and become familiar with the products that are offered by UCC within the charcoal roasted range of coffee products.

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UCC Coffee Exploration Series Charcoal Roasted Coffee

(Vacuum Packed, Ground Coffee)

UCC Coffee Exploration Series Charcoal Roasted Coffee

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The Coffee Exploration series features the best of gourmet specialty coffee and uses top-quality coffee beans that have been carefully selected for their exceptional richness in flavor and taste and also focuses on processing those using unique methods. Belonging to this series from UCC is the Charcoal Roasted coffee and it comes in ground form, with vacuum packaging ensuring maximum preservation of freshness.

Taste and flavor profile

 Flavors and Aroma

  • Deep and rich smoky aroma of charcoal
  • A perfect balance of savory, sweet, and bitter tastes
  • Low acidity
  • Full-bodied and smooth mouth-feel

What makes it special?

It is a long-selling product, being on the market since 1983. It is made by the charcoal roasting process which reflects the Japanese heritage and culture and adds a touch of Japanese craftsmanship to coffee, which is generally perceived as a Western product.

Due to the use of the charcoal roasting process, which uses lower temperatures over a longer period, the resulting roast consists of plump and fluffy coffee beans without any uneven burn spots. This brews into a cup that is well-balanced, full-bodied, and is incredibly rich in aroma and taste.

Origin of raw beans: Carefully selected beans from Brazil and Colombia

Packaging: 210g ground coffee packaged in vacuum-sealed packaging, ensuring maximum freshness and a burst of aroma when hot water touches the coffee at the time of brewing. On top of that, a part of the packaging has been made using environment-friendly materials.

Older versions: As UCC's charcoal roasted coffee beans have been so popular over the years, there are several older versions present, which might be a little confusing if you are trying to buy this product online. Before this newly updated version, it had a slightly different-looking packaging.


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UCC Café Meister Series Japanese Bincho Charcoal Roasted Coffee

(Whole Beans 500g) / (Ground 100g)

Whole Beans:


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UCC’s Café Meister series features coffee blends with artisanal qualities. Within this series, UCC offers Charcoal Roasted Coffee beans in whole bean form and ground form. They are made extra special by the use of top-quality charcoal that is native to a specific region in Japan. This charcoal is called Kishu Binchotan charcoal. This charcoal is only produced in Wakayama prefecture in the southern region of Japan and is known to be the best charcoal in the world due to its zero moisture content and ability to reach and retain a high temperature for a long time. The coffee beans have been roasted using this exceptionally high-quality Japanese Kishu Binchotan charcoal over twice the amount of time used in traditional roasting, resulting in an incredibly deep and rich flavor profile.

Taste and Flavor Profile

  • Strong, dark, and rich
  • Deep Smoky aroma of Binchotan charcoal
  • Full-bodied

What makes it special?

Apart from the fact that it is roasted using unique activated charcoal that is native to Japan, the quality of the product is professional-grade gourmet coffee. It means that this coffee can not only be used at home, it can also be served with confidence at your café or specialty coffee shop.

Origin of raw coffee beans: Brazil and Vietnam

Packaging: 500 g (Whole beans) or 100g (Ground coffee)

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UCC Café Meister Charcoal Roasted Ice-Coffee Blend (125g)


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Within the same series that we just discussed above, the Café Meister series, comes a ground coffee product that has been specially created for brewing iced coffee. This coffee has been roasted using the charcoal roasted method so if you love your coffee cold and chilled you should not miss out on trying out this coffee to make your iced coffee. Smoky flavors from an iced coffee, what a rare and mysterious combination!

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UCC Royal European Blend Series Charcoal Roasted Coffee Beans (Whole Beans)

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The Royal European Blend series features classic, long-selling blends that have been loved for many years due to their timeless taste and quality. On the packaging, you can notice the mark "big beans" and the blends in this series are all made using large coffee beans that have been carefully selected from the best coffee regions of the world. This is the charcoal-roasted version of UCC's Royal European blend.

Taste and flavor profile

  • Rich smoky aroma
  • Subtle acidity and pleasantly complex flavors
  • Mellow and well-balanced
  • Depth of taste and flavor

What makes it special?

In terms of raw coffee bean selection and screening process, large bean size is associated with superior quality because it often represents high-altitude cultivation and aromatic complexity. The beans used in this blend are particularly large coffee beans selected from different coffee-growing regions of the world. On top of that, it has been roasted using the Japanese charcoal roasting technique, resulting in a truly unique coffee blend.


The packaging of this blend is very interesting; it comes in a silver metallic packaging in the shape of a coffee barrel containing 700g of whole coffee beans.

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UCC Charcoal Roasted Drip Pod Coffee Capsule (12 pieces pack)


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Drip Pod is UCC's original single-serve coffee-making machine for home and commercial use. We have all heard about home espresso machines but the real twist here is that instead of espresso-based drinks, it brews single-serve drip coffee within seconds that is unbelievably close to a pour-over coffee made by hand. Each capsule or 'pod' used for the single-serve drip-brew has also been meticulously crafted to create a pour-over style coffee with a fabric filter and a dedicated space within the filter for 'blooming' to occur. The capsules have more than 15 different coffee bean types to choose from and this is the charcoal roasted coffee capsule that can be used with UCC's Drip Pod machine to create a cup of coffee that will taste undeniably similar to a hand-brewed pour-over coffee.

Taste and Flavor Profile

  • The rich smoky aroma of charcoal roasting
  • Strong taste with depth
  • Bitter taste perfectly balanced with a mellow mouth-feel

Origin of the coffee beans used: Brazil and Colombia

Recipe recommendation by UCC for this product

You can enjoy this coffee as straight black coffee or with a splash of milk depending on your preference, but UCC has especially recommended making Vietnamese-style coffee drinks using this charcoal roasted coffee drip pod. As the coffee brewed using these pods has a strong, dark, and bitter taste, the addition of condensed milk creates a perfectly balanced bitter-sweet Vietnamese style coffee.


An elegant paper box contains 12 Drip pod capsules and one capsule contains 7g of charcoal roasted ground coffee that can brew a single serving of coffee.

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UCC Charcoal Roasted Single-serve Coffee Pods for Keurig machines


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Keurig coffee machines are coffee brewing machines that can be used at home or the office for making fresh single-serve coffee drinks. These pods are compatible with Keurig machines, giving you an option to enjoy freshly brewed charcoal roasted specialty coffee at the comfort of your home.


Taste and Flavor Profile

  • Strong, dark, and rich
  • Smoky aroma of charcoal roasting


It comes in a paper box containing 12 pieces of Keurig compatible K-Cup pods. Each pod contains 7g of coffee.

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UCC Aroma Rich Series Charcoal Roasted Coffee Single Serve Cup-On Drip Coffee

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UCC’s single-serve cup-on drip coffee is a convenient and quick way to enjoy a pour-over style coffee without any hassle. Apparent from the name, this series focuses on intensely rich aroma and flavor. Using this product is very easy as all you have to do is place the single-serve drip coffee bag stably onto your coffee cup and pour hot water onto the ground coffee contained within the bag.

Taste and Flavor Profile

  • Low acidity
  • Strong and dark
  • Rich Intense smoky aroma of charcoal roasting
  • Mellow bitterness, sweet and savory notes

Origin of raw beans: Brazil and Colombia


4 sachets of cup-on drip bags inside protective packaging. Each sachet contains 7g of coffee. 

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UCC Coffee Exploration Series Charcoal Roasted Instant Coffee (45g)

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This instant coffee from UCC belongs to the Coffee Exploration series where the motto is “dedication in every cup”. Do not underestimate the richness in taste and aroma of this coffee by the fact that it is instant coffee as the flavor profile of this coffee is exceptionally high compared to other instant coffees.

Taste Profile

  • Rich smoky flavor of charcoal roasting
  • Dark, Strong, and deep taste
  • A mellowness that is rare to come by in instant coffees

Origin of raw beans: Ecuador

What makes it special?

The coffee used to make this instant coffee is top-grade coffee beans selected from Ecuador and has been roasted using the Japanese charcoal roasting method. This already makes it an outstanding instant coffee. However, that is only a part of the story. UCC uses a special preservation technique called “Freeze Drying Process”. In this process, coffee extraction is frozen to about – 40°C and then cut into small granules. Then these granules are dried in vacuum conditions at a very low temperature. Although this process is more complicated, time-consuming, and increases the production cost, it is the best method for preserving the original taste, aroma, and flavor of the coffee. This is why UCC's charcoal-roasted instant coffee is as close as you can get to freshly ground coffee within the convenience of instant coffee.


45g of instant coffee granules in an airtight glass jar

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UCC Ready-made Charcoal Roasted Liquid Coffee Unsweetened

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This is brewed charcoal roasted coffee preserved in a carton that can be enjoyed straight out of the packaging or be combined with ice, milk, or other ingredients to create a delicious coffee drink without having to brew the coffee yourself.

Taste and Flavor Profile

  • Dark and Strong
  • Deep smoky flavor
  • Rich and mellow taste

What makes it special?

Even when it comes to pre-made coffee drinks, UCC is dedicated to improve on the little details and create a product of top-notch quality and taste. This product has been made to be of professional grade so not only can you confidently use this at home, but you can use it at your café or coffee shop and serve it without hesitation to your guests.

The fact that it is brewed from coffee roasted using the charcoal roasting method already makes it rich in flavor and taste but it has also been brewed using a special technique called Nel Drip. Nel Drip is a traditional Japanese pour-over technique using a flannel filter and is known for brewing a sweet, mellow, and smooth cup of coffee that has a silky texture like mulled wine. Also, the water used to brew this coffee is natural spring water without any harsh taste or smell.


1000 ml carton with a professional-grade opening for easy, smooth, and safe pouring 

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UCC Sumiyaki Charcoal Roasted Coffee Candies

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Coffee lovers with a sweet tooth, it's time for you to rejoice: coffee candies with the smoky flavor of charcoal roasting combined with the perfect balance between the bitterness of coffee and the sweetness of sugar is here. These candies feature the taste and flavor of not just any coffee but UCC's charcoal roasted coffee so if you love the smoky flavor and the rich, savory taste of the charcoal roast, you might just become addicted to these sweet treats.

Final Words

Although charcoal roasted coffee is becoming popular nowadays, it still has yet to receive the global recognition and appreciation that it deserves. Now that you know everything you need to need to know about UCC and its charcoal roasted coffee products, you can have your first experience of indulging in the smoky haze of blissful aroma and taste of charcoal roasted coffee.

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*Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission.

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  • Great blog, love the articles. Rare to find this quality of writing and information in written form when a majority have transitioned to visual media like Youtube. Anyways was going to say, the article doesn’t address charcoal roasting and carcinogen, but after a quick internet search I found your article on Charcoal Roasting and Carcinogens! ( Great stuff, thanks for sharing.

    Jay on

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Japanese Coffee Blog


About This Blog:

Japanese Coffee Blog is a collection of articles related to the Japanese Coffee and Charcoal Roasted Sumiyaki coffee which is unique roasting only found in Japan. Coffee culture in Japan has evolved isolated from around the world and has much uniqueness not found in the rest of the world.

Authored by popular Japanese Tea Blogger Kei Nishida, he hopes to reveal the wonderful world of Japanese coffee from a different angle to educate and entertain people who love Japan, Japanese Tea, and now Japanese Coffee.

Author: Kei Nishida

Kei Nishida

Kei Nishida is a writer, a Japanese Green Tea and Coffee enthusiast, and the founder and CEO of Japanese Green Tea Company and Japanese Coffee Company.

His popular Japanese Green Tea and Health Blog has been the go-to place for anything related to Japanese tea.

He is an author of multiple books, and you can find his work in multiple publications and magazines.

Read more about Kei Nishida

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