The very first partner roaster to kick start the 2023 is Appartement from Yamato-cho, Kumamoto. The owner and the roaster, Saiki-san, opened Appartement with his partner, Rina-san, in 2022 after his long serving career at one of the leading roasters in Kumamoto, AND COFFEE ROASTERS. Their mission is to contribute to the local community of Yamato by serving what they excel at- coffee roasted by Saiki-san, and vegan ice cream sandwich made by Rina-san.
“I always wanted it to be 100% coffee,” Saiki-san says- his dream was to be a “master” of a classic kissaten, but after starting that journey at his local kissaten, Okada Coffee, he quickly realized that most of his job was not much about coffee. Boiling eggs behind the bar, Saiki-san often wondered what he was doing with his life- until he met a man that turned his life around. Yamane-san, who later opened AND COFFEE ROASTERS, started to work at Okada Coffee shortly after Saiki-san. They became friends as they worked together, and after Yamane-san opened his own shop, Saiki-san frequently visited during lunch breaks.
Saiki-san was very impressed by the Ethiopian light roast he had there, and how Yamane-san explained that “coffee is a chemistry.” There, Saiki-san could see himself immersed with coffee and only coffee, just like he had always dreamed of. After joining the team of AND COFFEE ROASTERS, Saiki-san played a crucial role in leading Kumamoto’s coffee scene.
For this month’s package, Saiki-san selected Ethiopia and Guatemala for us. Both washed, the Ethiopia Gedeo Yirgacheffe has a wonderful sweetness rather than a flamboyance typical of Ethiopian coffee, and the coffee from Guatemala has a fresh and juicy fruitiness of white grape or green apple, followed by a wonderfully mellow, sugar cane sweetness. To make his coffee pair well with Rina-san’s ice cream sandwich, Saiki-san’s roasting style has developed to be slightly darker compared to when he was at AND COFFEE ROASTERS. A story like this reminds us that coffee roasting is a human activity and reflects who we are, who we are with and how we live- I love how we can taste that in a cup of coffee.
“We’d love to welcome you all in person one day, and we hope this package will help some to be interested in Kumamoto. Well, we just hope you will all enjoy” - Saiki-san is a man of very few words, but he confessed that actually he yells “come on, you’ve got to get wild!” whenever he sees people drinking his coffee with straight faces- only in his mind. I’d say, he is more like a “punk rocker” than an art worker. But yeah, get wild people!