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ONSAYA COFEEE (Okayama) : 2023 September #KurasuPartnerRoaster

ONSAYA COFFEE in Okayama is this month’s #KurasuPartnerRoaster. Loved by the local community, they celebrate their 15th anniversary this year. I (Jongmin from the roasting team) actually have visited them before in private, and had a delicious coffee brewed by the owner, Azuma-san with care.

But for me, the coffee experience at ONSAYA is more than just having a drink. Azuma-san’s coffee gives me back something I gradually lost as I grew up- maybe the dare to dream, some kind of romanticism perhaps. I don’t want to make it sound like a cliche, so let’s dive into Azuma-san’s story to figure out his magic.

The name ONSAYA came from a soul jazz music piece, “Onsaya Joy” by Richard “Groove” Holmes.
“Good music encourages people to travel, and good coffee connects people…the joy of a calm peace of everyday life is what we want to deliver”, Azuma-san says.
Until he created this safe haven, his life has been full of twists and turns- dropped out of high school, went through several jobs, then decided to go to a university. Throughout the turbulent era, however, Azuma-san had a small flame of admiration for coffee always flickering in him.

He grew up seeing his mother loving coffee, and his father often took the family to kissaten. For the young Azuma-san, coffee and kissaten had a special place in his heart, with a sense of love and admiration.”I went off of the set track of my life once already- so I thought, I should stop worrying about failing and try to get everything I always wanted”- he reflects. After the graduation, he started the business from scratch. “I was lucky to had others who helped me, but back then all I’ve got was 100,000 yen in my bank (approx. 680USD.) Every day I was only earning enough to survive another day”, he laughs.

His resilience paid off- more and more people became regulars, and then he started coffee roasting, and visiting coffee farms. The world moved on, and the concept of specialty coffee spread and is now trending. While ONSAYA COFFEE is now in the same scenery, I somehow feel that they walked a different route- more original, a path built on much deeper and more personal relationship with coffee.

In the shop, you’ll find many conversation starters that direct your mind towards the future of coffee. The culture of coffee houses, design, history, social issues surrounding coffee- everything about coffee culture you can see here, and it will all make sense here. Visit ONSAYA, contemplate coffee while grooving to a melancholy tune of blues.