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    Interview with Ayaka: our new general manager Part 2

    We interviewed Ayaka, who recently became our general manager- it's been 4 years since we last interviewed her, and in the first half she told us about how the transition throughout the last 4 years has made an impact on her, and about her favorite coffee. In the second half, we asked her about her favorite coffee equipment at home, and about her future plans.

    What kind of coffee equipment do you use at home?

    Ayaka:

    I use a CORES grinder. I use Wilfa at the cafe, but hopefully I can answer some questions our customers have with CORES. 

    For drippers, I have ORIGAMI, Hario V60, Tetsu Kasuya model V60, and MUNIEQ Tetra Drip. Most of the drippers I have are V60- brewing with V60 is like a routine, and I always brew Kurasu’s coffee with V60. 

    I use ORIGAMI for other roasters’ coffee to give more roundness to the flavor. I rarely use the Tetsu Kasuya model as it’s my husband’s :D

    I take the MUNIEQ Tetra Drip for travel. Oh, and AeroPress. This is for outdoor brewing too, like brewing at a park. 

    ーーーSo you are using different drippers for different occasions. Nice.

     

    Is there anything other than coffee you are passionate about?

    Ayaka:

    When I was living in Melbourne, I became allergic to avocados. Since then, I became more interested in food in general.

    One time my body started to reject any food from a convenience store. That was pretty scary when it happened, but that gave me the opportunity of learning more about food and food additives, and how negatively they affect our bodies- and that also ignited my passion for cooking. 

    I cooked so many things- I once had a phase of constantly making curry with spices, and I taught myself to make pizza dough from scratch. 

    Once you make a dish from scratch you learn what’s in there, and that experience will be your guideline to decide whether you’d want to eat that dish elsewhere.

    I’d say that’s one of my hobbies. 

     

     

    What are your future plans with Kurasu? What do you want to achieve?

    Ayaka:

    The top priority now is to hand over the position of cafe manager to Tsubasa-kun. 

    My job is to give him my full support to help him building the best team at the cafe. I’d love to be someone Tsuba-san kun feels he can rely on and talk to.

    As for Kurasu, I want to grow with the company- I admire how Yozo-san stays true to his cause and core ideas no matter how big the company has become. 

    He never does the same thing twice, and that always amazes me. I believe Yozo-san continues to achive so much more. When that happens, if I was still at where I was, who would Tsubasa-kun and the other members reach for, as a role model? So I wanted to push my limit to become better, to reach higher, and asked for this position. When Yozo-san tries something new, and if I was always there to support him, I can grow with that too. I want to continue to be someone that he thinks of whenever he needs someone to hand things over. 

    ーーーSounds like a lot of pressure to put on yourself.

    Ayaka:

    It is, but I decided that I will trust and follow him in May, 2016.

    ーーーVery specific.

    Ayaka:

    I still remember it like it happened yesterday. I was in Melbourne and looking for a job in Japan when I had a Skype call with Yozo-san. Looking back, I can call it a job interview. 

    That’s when I decided to follow him and support him. During our call he said, “you can totally turn the offer down if it doesn’t feel right when you actually meet me in person”- I’ve never met someone saying anything like that before. All I knew before was a structured, top-down hierarchy. It was a shocking experience that I was treated as equal, even though he was in the position of giving me a job interview. 

     

    Opening a shop of your own is a common goal to have if you love coffee and are in the coffee industry- but I’d love to be a role model of something different when baristas look for a different path as the future plans. 

    Some may give up on running their own shops and take up different jobs, but if you love coffee, I hope they don’t have to feel that they need to give up on it. 

    I want to make Kurasu a place that gives hope and places for people and feel inspired. 

     

    Any last message?

    Ayaka:

    To everyone who kindly says that they come to Kurasu because of me, or they visit the cafe because chatting to me makes them happy- I’m the one who receives happiness from you! 

    I feel so loved, and I want to say, I love you all too. 

    Love for love! 

    ================

    Editor’s note:

    How did you enjoy the interview?

    She put smiles on so many people’s faces in the past, and even though her workplace changes, her magnetic and charming character still shines bright. 

    Her presence freshens up our mind and inspires us to work harder- she is such a great role model for all of us. Interviewing her made me promise to myself once again to be better, and to work harder to support her. 

    Stay tuned to witness her journey for an even brighter future!