How many can say they’ve already found their true passion while they were still studying as students? A passion so strong that you know and decide to pursue it as your dream.
LIGHT UP COFFEE owners, Tamito Aihara san and Yuma Kawano san, certainly had found that one thing while they were studying in university – coffee.
While Aihara san was majoring in design and Kawano san in economics, their pursuit of coffee started with latte art while working at franchise coffee chains – they were mesmerized with the intricacies of creating shapes and forms with latte, as well as the amazement and smiles of the customers. At that time, they were not that interested in coffee itself – Aihara san mentions that he did not even like the flavors of coffee that much.
What started with latte art led them to visiting numerous cafes in Tokyo, quickly realizing the complexity of coffee and they were particularly impacted by Onibus and Fuglen coffee. Their passion drove them to recreate these flavors on their own – purchasing a small 1kg Fuji Royal roaster and they just started roasting through trial and error in their apartment building. To improve their sensory experience, they travelled to Europe, starting with Italy, Scandinavia, and London. Here they were strongly inspired by the coffee culture and the world that they had never encountered before in Japan. When the journey ended, they had a new goal: to spread what they’d experienced in Japan.
LIGHT UP COFFEE opened in July 2014 while the owners Aihara san had just started working and Kawano san in his 4th year of university. After being turned down by numerous spots to rent as they were still students, they were able to connect with an owner who recognized their passions and secured a location in one of the trendiest and populated town in Tokyo, Kichijoji.
Aihara san’s design background and his group of desinger friends are the inspiration behind the clean light blue and white inspired setup. Due to a limited amount of budget and resources, the shop itself is sort of a patched up design when observed closely. “The sink probably should have been over here”, jokes Aihara san, awkwardly moving around as making drinks for their customers. The 1kg Fuji Royal roaster is part of the imperfection, which puffs all day long while the shop is going to accommodate their customers and their growing online store and wholesale base. They are looking for a larger roaster now, but they do have an attachment to their partner which started together in a student apartment building and allows them to check, control, cup, and adjust their coffee to their desires. What’s not perfect is a reminder of a place where you can feel their passion, their love for coffee, and a desire to spread their love in whatever way possible.
On top of their busy schedules, the owners are active to spread the knowledge of coffee by holding coffee seminars and remaining active on their blog. They are also scouting for a new location – somewhere they feel has a strong coffee culture influence they can expand on. They are certainly “lighting up” the coffee minds of Tokyo, and hopefully all over Japan.
4 Chome-13-15 Kichijoji, Tokyo