New Zealand coffee roasting company Allpress Espresso has cut the ribbon on a new Japanese operation in Tokyo that will supply a burgeoning independent cafe scene in the Asian mega-city.

Japan is the Auckland-based firm's third international market, following the opening of its London roastery and cafe in 2010 and its entrance into Australia in 2000.

Managing director Mike Allpress said Japan had become an important destination for specialist coffee brands.

"If you can get some brand recognition and some traction in this market it's good for your brand globally," he said.


Allpress has established a roastery and cafe in the Tokyo suburb of Kiba and has already secured 17 wholesale supply accounts in Japan.

The firm, founded as a coffee cart in Auckland's Victoria Park in 1986, has invested more than $800,000 into its Tokyo operation, a joint venture with Japanese businessman Teru Harase, who previously ran cafes in Auckland that Allpress supplied with coffee.

Japan tends to be thought of as a tea drinking society, but Allpress said a lot of coffee was consumed in Tokyo and while the market was dominated by chains such as Starbucks and Tully's, independent cafes were becoming increasingly popular.

"They're the customers that Allpress wants to have a relationship with," Allpress said.

He said the company may enter licensing agreements with "suitable parties" who could operate Allpress-branded espresso bars in Tokyo.

And while the firm was also eyeing an expansion into the United States, Allpress said the company remained focused on customers in its core Australasian markets.

Allpress Tokyo was opened at an event attended by 150 guests - including New Zealand's Ambassador to Japan, Mark Sinclair - on Thursday night.