Sometimes an unlikely pairing can make for an exceptional finish.
That's precisely the concept behind Takamura, this December's featured Roaster. This popular Osaka destination shop is built around pairings, so much so that the business itself is a pairing of the finest order. You see, within the walls of Takamura, you'll find two of the world's most beloved beverages -- spirits and coffee – coexisting in harmonious perfection.
The story of Takamaru began in 1992, when the business launched as a quite generously-stocked liquor store. With one of the largest selections of wine, beer, whiskey, and sake available, Takamura garnered plenty of media attention and word-of-mouth advertisement from delighted customers. It didn't take long for customers to begin pouring in from Tokyo – and soon after, from all over Japan.
Demand was so high that Takamura launched an online store, an endeavor that gained momentum as readily as their brick-and-mortar location had done. Rakuten (Japan's answer to Amazon.com and their largest online shopping mall) later awarded Takamura with their coveted “Shop of the Year” award in the win division . . . eleven years in a row!
Takamura still flourishes in the wine business, stocking over 2200 varieties from all over the world and servicing many of Japan's finest hotels and restaurants, but the biggest shift in their business model appeared when they added coffee to their already vast selection. The change was, in fact, a complete re-branding of the business, and in 2013, Takamura Wine & Coffee Roasters was born.
The decision to blend coffee with wine was no flight of fancy. Takamura made the decision quite deliberately after realizing the many similarities between wine and coffee. Each are available in almost limitless varieties; and like wine, each style of coffee is special and unique. The way we choose coffee based on region is very much akin to the way we choose a selection from our favorite vineyards.
And, perhaps most importantly, coffee is best enjoyed when paired with the appropriate foods. Like wine, each roast is best suited to pair with certain flavors - be it an earthy blend paired with dark chocolate or a lighter Brazilian roast paired with fruit tarts. As you may already know, such pairings add an incredible amount of depth to the coffee drinking experience when skillfully executed. In the same way that a restaurant cannot be considered exceptional without a proper selection of wines (regardless of how tasty their food may be), a coffee selection of the highest caliber must be provided.
Takamura understands this fact, and it's with that understanding and decades of experience that they've been approaching their coffee roasting endeavors. For years, they've searched the world for the perfect vineyards and vintages, and now they're just as eager to uncover the world's most enjoyable coffee beans. By applying the same knowledge and passion that they hold for wine to the art of the brew, they're bringing a whole new perspective to the coffee scene in Japan.
For December, Takamura selected two very special beans for this feature. Each of these beans is sourced from the same region, but processed differently, illustrating how it's possible to enjoy two different flavors from the same corner of the globe.
Ethiopia Yirgacheffe G1 Natural
The coffee cherries of this selection have been hand-picked by farmers in the Irugachefe district of Ethiopia. After they've been harvested, the cherries are purchased within a few hours and then sun-dried without delay. Care and attention to detail are paramount to the production of this wonderful coffee, and natural processing of this variety of coffee is quite rare.
These beans are then supplied by specialty coffee importer Ishimitsu Shoji in partnership with the local supplier Mopurako Trading Co. You may be familiar with the quality of Mopurako, as they're renowned for supplying mocha coffee for Cup of Excellence founder George Howell and world barista champion Robert Thoresen.
You can expect the coffee resulting from these rare and sought after beans to be bold on your palette. The brew carries a strong impact, with a brilliant aroma and flavors like ripe papaya. The balanced taste of Ethiopia Yirgacheffe G1 Natural makes it both easy to drink and quite addictive.
Ethiopia Yirgacheffe G1 Washed
Yirgacheffe single origins are famous among coffee enthusiasts, and are known for delivering different flavors depending on the roaster or cafe. Coffee sourced from the Yirgacheffe region of Africa is harvested by farmers from a number of smaller villages and then brought to nearby coffee cooperatives. The region plays host to a number of different co-ops – twenty-six, to be exact -- with each adding different subtle characteristics to the resulting beans. This particular selection hails from the Conga coffee cooperative.
This year's lot carries a very fragrant, flowery aroma. Expect to brew an elegant, light coffee from these roasts. The tones are less bitter, almost akin to English tea, and flavors that include tropical fruits such as guava and papaya are complemented by a sweet, peach-like finish.
This roast is classified “Grade 1”, absolutely top-notch with a cup evaluation over 90 points.