In Japan, the concept of a “shared roaster” has been increasingly recognized over the last few years, with a significant increase in 2017. A shared roaster enables more and more people to jump into the roasting adventure and learn how to deal with all the difficulties people have to face, such as: not knowing which machine is the best match for them, the machines being vastly over budget, the space and reconstruction required for the ventilation, etc, etc. Since space and expenses are the top concerns for most of the start-ups/micro roasters - especially in Japan -, “HOME”, a brand new shared roaster in Japan, is attracting a great deal of attention. Located in Minami-semba, Osaka, HOME introduces a new standard to Japanese roasting inspired by the leading roasting culture found in cities such as in NY and Melbourne.
Kurasu has been selecting and introducing roasters from all over Japan through our #kurasucoffee subscription service as well as at our Kurasu Kyoto cafe. To explore this new stage, we have decided to join HOME and start roasting ourselves. We visited Ogawa-san, Yamada-san and Goto-san, the founders of HOOP, which operates HOME, to find out more.
These three curious adventurers chose NY as a destinations in their quest to determine HOOP’s concept, “innovating people’s lifestyle”. Yamada-san dropped by at one cafe looking for inspiration, and she was introduced to the USA’s leading shared roaster, Pulley Collective in Red Hook, Brooklyn.
The place owns several roasting machines and espresso machines, and fresh green beans are directly delivered to the port at Upper Bay where there are so many fresh and unique beans from all over the world, you have no time to waste if you want to sample them all. The coffee roasted here then goes out to delight taste buds across New York City.
Their openness, the positive and friendly atmosphere that filled the air alongside the coffee aroma stunned Yamada-san. Having had previous experience with her career in the Japanese coffee industry, she felt the crucial problem with Japanese coffee culture was its closed and excluding attitude. Roasters in Japan had tended to focus a lot on pursuing their technique, valuing their business relationships and had a sense of close-knit community. The result was it was difficult for the new and younger generation to just jump in and explore their possibilities. Pulley Collective was a stark contrast: people were trying out new things, discussing and exchanging ideas and recipes and discovering new things together. That image was burned in Yamada-san’s mind so clearly, it kept coming back to her head even after returning to Japan.
After the trip, they have decided to buy a roasting machine so they could start roasting beans themselves, but just joining into the existing competition didn’t feel very interesting. They considered buying a Probatone, but there were more than 10 of them already owned just in Osaka. They needed to do something unique, they thought, what is something that only we can offer? And that was when the image of Brooklyn returned to their mind.
The concept of sharing is growing everywhere in the world. The idea of sharing the knowledge and skills that you have rather than keeping them to yourself is now a mainstream way of thinking. HOOP values cooperation and sharing, and the concept of a shared roaster seemed to be the perfect match with their vision.
Ogawa-san, Yamada-san and Goto-san strongly believe that more and more skilled baristas will start roasting once the environment is right for them. By starting HOME, people will be liberated from needing to find the budget and space to do it all by themselves, and that will create a whole new level of movement in roasting. “The energy of this new trend will certainly be overwhelming”, Yamada-san told us.
At HOME, they will teach you the basics of roasting and how they operate when you first visit, and after that, you can instantly start creating your own roast. Yamada-san explains that roasting is a lot like brewing in that it has some basic steps and techniques that you need to learn in order to get started.. “You can’t avoid failing when you start something from scratch, but by sharing knowledge of past failures and mistakes as well as the basic steps to get started, you can focus your energy more on exploring roasting at an advanced level without wasting too much time getting started”, Yamada-san smiles.
The same green beans can be turned into infinite varieties of coffee with only the slightest differences in time, temperature and many other factors. Pursuing your own roast is almost like a journey to discover your philosophy on life. Through meticulously adjusting the recipe, by accident or through intuition, new coffee will be introduced to the world with every roast. People will learn from each other, HOME will learn from them, and in that way, the coffee roasting techniques in Japan will become more polished and developed as a shared endeavor.
At the end of the interview, Yamada-san cheerfully invited us to try roasting with her. This visit told us a lot about their open and flexible attitude to create something new, and the unlimited potential of their journey.
HOOP is a company providing space, hosting events with a theme “Co-imagine”. They provide people from every background with opportunities to share their stories, learn about each other and work together. They aim to raise people’s awareness of many different aspects of the society and the world through the stories shared with them. At their opening week in July 2017, they hosted a variety of events to suggest a new ways of living from different points of view such as international relations, food, work, music, etc. On their ordinary days, they run a coffee stand where people can enjoy coffee from many places in the world, a shared roaster and a venue for events. They received a big attention from the media by serving coffee from Four Barrel Coffee.