The next roaster Kurasu will introduce is Mel Coffee Roasters from Osaka.
Mel Coffee Roasters is located at about 10 minutes’ walk from Shinsaibashi station, one of the most vibrant areas in Osaka.
With a simple but warming exterior, this very small coffee stand and roaster of only 8.58m2 is owned by Masahiko Fumimoto, who also is the roaster.
Fumimoto-san used to be working as an engineer for one of the biggest car companies in Japan. While enjoying his job, Fumimoto-san gradually started to wonder about what he really wants in life.
Fumimoto-san had some opportunities to travel abroad for his business, and that experience led him to have a strong desire to travel around the world and broaden his mind. Later he decided to go around many places such as Sydney, Australia, South America and Africa, where he gained a lot of life experience from. Fumimoto-san also encountered with various unique coffee cultures here and there-- dusty, sugary coffee at the ceremony in Ethiopia and Kenya are still fresh in mind.
After getting married in Japan, Fumimoto-san moved to Australia to improve his English skills. He chose to live in Melbourne, where there were not many Japanese people back then. He enrolled himself in a business school, and that's when he got into the habit of drinking coffee every day.
One day on the way to the school, he found one cafe always with a very long queue. That was the very BROTHER BABA BUDAN, one of the most famous cafes for specialty coffee in Melbourne. Awakened by their cafe latte, Fumimoto-san gained his interest in coffee, especially in espresso machines and began to think of using them himself.
With the newly found passion, Fumimoto-san visited more than 100 cafes with CV on his hand, but unfortunately there was no cafe eager to welcome him. He then took a 3 days intensive course at barista school, and tried 50 cafes with a certificate, only ended up with 2 cafes letting him prepare milk but said no.
There were not many Asian people working as baristas back then, and his limited experience didn't help the situation which was hard enough already.
Fumimoto-san didn't give up however, and he bought himself Rancilio Silvia V3 and started to practice on it at home. Then he's got an opportunity to practice on the actual professional machine at his wife's friend’s cafe when it's closed.
After a half a year of practicing, Fumimoto-san finally got a job at Trufulla seed coffee, but he had to choose to go back to Japan to help his family business. While working for his family, he got a weekend job at mill pour, a coffee stand in Shinsaibashi, where he gained an insight of Japanese coffee business.
He continued to study business and Japanese coffee scene, and two and a half years later, he finally opened Mel Coffee Roasters in January 2016. He decorated the interior himself, and he chose Probat 5kg 1968 vintage model for his roaster. The major choice for Japanese roasters is Fuji Royal, but Fumimoto-san was looking for something different. After a long deliberation, he chose to order his ideal roaster, which took him a year and a half to overhaul and ship. This small space accommodates the roaster, espresso machine and fresh beans, and there are only two staffs working including dealing with hand dripping. “I assume we’re the only one who does everything in this small space”, giggles Fumimoto-san.
The coffee produced here is a sophisticated integration of Australian light roast and a specific taste preference of the western area of Japan. Fumimoto-san’s technique has been highly evaluated, and he judged Japan Brewers Cup and Japan Hand Drip Championship in 2015, and he was chosen to be the judge of the final stage of Japan Brewers Cup in 2016.
The location of the cafe is also the fruit of his business analysis-- Shinmachi is a spot often featured in media, and the people living there have their own preferred style of living as often they are business owners or young, trend sensitive type of people. He also got a hunch when he visited the location, which also convinced him to start his business there.
Mel Coffee Roasters recently started a wholesale of the beans, changing profiles every week. He started out with a light roast, but he shifted it to medium light roast after a several discussions and feedback from his customers. Fumimoto-san is planning to keep his business local, cherishing the close relationship with people around and growing the business with them-- Mel Coffee Roasters, loved by locals of all ages, is still at its early stage, with a bright future.
Kenya: Light Roast
-area: Central District, Murang'a
-flavour notes: Berries, hint of pineapple and grape, sweet, clean. Medium/long aftertaste.
Shinmachi Blend: Medium Deep Roast
-area: Mexico, Columbia
-flavour notes: Nuts, brown sugar, hint of melon, clean finish, apricot. Medium body.