"Kurasu always welcomes new ideas, and lets us actually try them"
At cafes, you may have a barista you always talk to over a cup of coffee- but rarely we get to have the same relationship with people who roast that coffee.
What's a day as a coffee roaster like? What's it like to work at Kurasu? We figured it's a good idea to ask the person- Reika from our roasting team!
What's a typical day as a coffee roaster like?
7:30 a.m.: Prepping QC (quality control)* for the day.
Get all the last week's roast to sample, and discuss what and how we can change to make it even better.
9:30 a.m.: Get ready to roast.
Weigh green beans, set the package for the cafes, clean up after the morning cupping*, get the new cupping kit ready for the next round.
Once the roasting starts, Reika helps Kosuke as he roasts, weighing and packing roasted coffee. Recently, Reika has been also roasting our house blend or trying Giesen out.
1:00 p.m.: Lunch break.
Ventilate the roasting area, have lunch, and enjoy some view on the street of Nishijin.
2:00 p.m.: Start the afternoon roasting session.
Reika again helps Kosuke with his roasting process, packs coffee for our wholesalers and overseas customers.
4:00 p.m.: Pack up and go home.
Reika's tasks also depend on the day of the week- she does QC, roasting, packing/shipping, cupping, serving coffee as a barista, filming YouTube videos contemplating about incoming and existing coffee, etc., etc...
She also always makes sure that the roastery is kept clean so that Kosuke can stay focused and go all-in.
*What's "QC (Quality Control)"?
To inspect and manage the quality of a product- in our case, coffee.
Taste test for coffee is called cupping. It's a method to compare and evaluate the aroma, flavor and overall quality of several types/batches of coffee in a controlled environment.
When and in what do you feel joy in your job?
Here's the list Reika gave us:
・When what I felt and expressed resonated with other people
・When Yoshihara-san (Kosuke) shows me a new way of thinking
・Coffee tastes great every day
・The fact that generally I get to manage myself
At Kurasu we are encouraged to have our original ideas and be proactive. You don't always see your ideas become reality, but I love that Kurasu always welcomes new ideas and lets us actually try them.
Do you feel any struggle at work?
"I still have so many jargons I don't know. I keep seeing and hearing new terminologies from new beans' packages, other roasters and championships- whenever I see a new word while watching IG live, other social media posts and video recordings of the past SCAJ competitions, I write it down and try my hardest to absorb it.
Technical terms for brewing, varieties I've never heard of, new processing methods, philosophy and trends- the list never seems to end but it's so fascinating. Recently I've been cruising through Twitter and catching the latest topics and inspiring thoughts from people in the industry."
What did you learn so far at Kurasu?
"I've grown up as a person.
Through my days working with Yoshihara-san, I feel that I have grown up as a person. I've learnt what to think, what's not worth thinking, what senses and skills I need to develop as a coffee professional- that sort of thing.
Also as you can imagine, I'm learning a whole lot about coffee every day.
You can learn only so much from YouTube or other info sources available online, and nothing beats what you can learn from working as a roasting assistant."
Why did you apply for this job?
"I wanted to be a roaster.
My boss at the cafe I used to work for often told me to ask the roasting team if you have any questions about the coffee we're serving.
Back then, the unique roles fulfilled by each department (roasting team, barista, etc.) and how they are different were a bit fuzzy for me. Even then, whenever I cupped coffee with the roasting team I was so impressed by their knowledge and intuitions, and how they can capture the flavor and analyze them accurately. My admiration for them led me to start talking to them more, and I started to feel that I want to be like them and more.
I really liked Kurasu as people who worked there (like Tsubasa-san, Ayaka-san, and Shoko-san) were always friendly and treated me equally and fairly- I fell in love with their personality and the brand spirit they were embodying.
So I did a lot of research about Kurasu, and as I learnt more about Kurasu, always trying new things, I liked them even more, and to be a bit bold to say this, I felt that I'd fit in well.
I also loved Yoshihara-san's progressive and eccentric flavor notes and that's one of the things that made me want this job, to work with him."
What is one word that describes Kosuke as a person?
"I can't choose just one but let's say...
Kind, healthy-minded and mature.
His personality and mannerism communicate what's in his mind very clearly, and that makes it easy for other people to open up to him too. He's so fun, perceptive, keen and delicate."
How would you describe Kurasu?
"All the staff members always stay positive, passionate about coffee and super hard working, so it's fun and pleasant to work here.
You don't get a job at such a company everyday, so I feel very lucky to be here.
I'd say Kurasu is a very healthy-minded and cool company. "
Thank you Reika for sharing your day and life at Kurasu with us- we hope this interview gives everyone a bit more insight of this still very underrepresented profession in the coffee scene.