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COFFEE BLUE (Kumamoto): 2024 April #KurasuPartnerRoaster

This April’s #KurasuPartnerRoaster is COFFEE BLUE from Kumamoto, a specialty coffee shop that opened in May 2023 on the banks of Lake Ezu, about a 10-minute drive from the city center. “There are many shades of blue”, the owner Kinoshita-san says. A vibrant blue, dark blue, one that communicates feelings such as freshness, sorrow, complexity- Kinoshita san sees something in common that both a color blue and coffee have. We asked him to share his story and about COFFEE BLUE.

Born and bred in Kumamoto, Kinoshita-san first chose to be a physical therapist. After 5 years of working as one, he was introduced to the world of specialty coffee at a coffee shop called 808 COFFEE STOP, run by his schoolmate. That very first encounter with specialty coffee and its unique flavor shocked him, and the richness of the context behind one cup- a story passed on from the producer, roaster, and to the consumer- even more so. Ever since then, Kinoshita-san felt his world was turned upside down, and the charm of the people involved in the coffee industry also encouraged him to jump into it.

Kinoshita-san started out small, hand-roasting and attending events on his day off from his work back then. However, when Gluck Coffee Spot opened, he joined the team as an opening staff. After brushing up his skills as a barista and a roaster, he became a store manager at Gluck Coffee Spot’s sister shop, licht coffee & cakes, for about a year before leaving the company. Then, after 2 years of preparation, Kinoshita-san finally opened the doors of COFFEE BLUE.

“I want my coffee to be casually brewed and enjoyed. If my coffee then became a catalyst for people to be more interested in coffee, that’d be great. I want to pay forward the inspiration I was given by my friend- that’s one of the motivations of me opening this shop”, Kinoshita-san says. Kumamoto’s coffee scene is thriving with the younger generation, and the spirit of paying forward and passing the baton surely is creating a positive cycle in the community.

As for the future of COFFEE BLUE, "I’dlike to promote specialty coffee to more people in Kumamoto and create a culture where people can enjoy coffee in their everyday lives," says Kinoshita-san. His warm and calm presence we felt during the interview alone made us want to visit Kumamoto- visit his shop, order a cup of coffee to go, but stay there for a bit of a chat and a few sips, then stroll down to Lake Ezu…sit back, join us on our armchair travelling daydream while enjoying this month’s package.