This month's #KurasuPartnerRoaster is Create Coffee Lab from Oita, where the aroma of roasting coming from their chimney invites the locals of a quiet residential area.
The owner/roaster, Shiihara-san, has led a unique path to the industry- he studied in a Chinese university in Xiamen, Fujian, where he majored in international business and economics, inspired by the booming Chinese economy. There, he also experienced another rapidly-growing culture: coffee.
With his language skills, Shiihara-san got his first job at Sanyo Sangyo’s international sales department in his hometown, Oita. Also known as CAFEC, now a globally loved company specialized in paper filters and drippers, the experience Shiihara-san gained there drew him even deeper into the world of coffee.
One day on his business visit to a roastery, Shiihara-san saw jute bags full of coffee travelling far from various countries. Intrigued, he did some research on the beans, and he came across a job he never knew existed- a coffee farm related community development and marketing job at JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency)- and he went for it.
Shiihara-san was assigned to Rwanda as a JICA volunteer, but the reality was not pretty. The farmers were suffering from low motivation, limited yields, and unstable market prices. Many were even considering switching to growing other crops. Determined to offer whatever he can, Shiihara-san set up a roasting center and encouraged small scale farmers to roast their own beans, and helped them remember how special their job is- coffee is not just a beverage, but also a fruit of incredible labor and passion.
After coming back to Japan, Shiihara-san opened Create Coffee Lab in a rural residential area. The locals loved it, and Shiihara san is already planning to open a second shop 2 years in. (He also is a certified Q grader now and a championship winner. ) His motto is “Act Glocal”- Shiihara-san hopes to deliver coffee that encourages people in Japan to think of where the beans come from, and how we are a part of a much bigger world.
For this package, Shiihara-san picked two coffees from Rwanda, where his coffee story really took off. Enjoy!