It has long been part of our mission at Kurasu to spread Japanese coffee culture around the globe, so we were excited to be one of four Japanese coffee roasters featured at a special cupping at Ancestors Coffee in Norwich, England.
Like Japan, the UK has been one of the countries at the forefront of the third wave of coffee, with coffee being one of the largest growing industries there, and the London Coffee Festival being one of the biggest and most influential coffee events in the world. However, the coffee revolution is not limited to the capital - several of the smaller cities are hidden gems, and Norwich is one of the biggest surprises. Despite having a population of less than 200,000 people, it is full of independent specialty coffee shops, and the locals, and the large international student population, all have their favorite places to go, rather than just visit the big chains.
Ancestors Coffee is one of the most popular specialty coffee places in Norwich, with a focus on vegan friendly food, a family run ethic - but most significantly, it's the best place to go in the city to discover coffee from around the world. They always have a wide selection of beans from many roasters, and do a public cupping once a month, to give customers the opportunity to sample the latest additions to the menu - or any new and exciting coffees that Ceiran, Ancestors director, has recently discovered.
Typically, the coffee comes from across Europe, or occasionally the USA, but Japanese roasted coffee is a rarity as it is not normally imported to the UK in large batches. So this event was both rare and exciting, as Japanese coffee was cupped blind against some of Europe's top roasters.
The Japanese roasters selected for the cupping were WEEKENDERS COFFEE, ONIBUS COFFEE, HSKWKF (Hoshikawa cafe) and Kurasu. The coffee quality was very high too - the WEEKENDERS COFFEE selected had finished 4th in the Tarqui Cup, and all three roasters have been previously featured as guest roasters on our coffee subscription.
I was visiting Norwich at the time of the cupping, and was therefore able to attend. The atmosphere was very friendly - with a wide range of coffee enthusiasts there, from people attending a cupping for the first time to the more seasoned fan. There were 10 coffees prepared - all unlabelled so people did not know the roaster, region or process before tasting, so their opinion was uninfluenced. After about 10 to 15 minutes of tasting, Ceiran revealed which coffee was which, and there were many surprises as many people discovered their guesses had been completely wrong!
Many people commented on how much variety in flavor there was on the panel, how very distinctive all the flavors were, even compared to previous panels. Ceiran said that was one of the bonuses of featuring the Japanese coffee side by side with European coffee, people could get to appreciate the differences. There was not a bad cup of coffee on the table, but so many flavours.
While there was no official poll, the general consensus seemed to be that Weekender's Colombian was a firm favourite. However, it was a pleasant surprise to learn that our Kenyan was one of the other highly regarded coffees on the panel. As we are very much at the start of our coffee roasting journey it is good to know we can stand alongside some of the biggest names in Japanese coffee roasting.
We are very grateful to Ancestors for choosing our coffee to feature on their cupping panel, and as a limited supply guest coffee available at their cafe. Japanese coffee seems to have been a hit in Norwich, we hope that it is the first step in a much longer journey!