Hi everyone! We hope you all are having a lovely day.
While Kurasu is based in Kyoto, many of our staff members are from various areas of Japan. In this mini interview series, “My Coffee Roots”, we ask our team to share a bit about them- how they enjoy coffee at home, their favorite cafes in their hometown and in Kyoto. This time we asked our head patissiere at kashi by Kurasu, Natsuko, to share her “coffee roots.”
Brew yourself a nice cup of coffee, sit back, and enjoy her story.
Originally from Nagano, 27 years-old Natsuko first moved to Kyoto to attend a college, then trained at a confectionary school, then soon entered the culinary industry. First she worked as a barista at Ogawa Coffee, and when Kurasu set up kashi by Kurasu, she joined the company. With her wealth of experience and knowledge as a barista, she now oversees the planning and production of sweets served at Kurasu's cafe, with a concept of creating sweets that pair well with coffee. Her warm and gentle smile melts anyone’s heart, and while she is loved for her gentle personality, the determined and stoic “artisan” side of her attracts great admiration too.
Her hobby is to do laundry, and her favorite brewing gear is Hario V60 and her mother’s handmade dripper.
-How did you come to love coffee?
Back when I was 18 and moved to Kyoto for my studies. I’ve never gone to a cafe before then, and I remember feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of cafes in the city- that was “this is what a big city is all about” moment for me. Also, spending 500 or 1,000 yen for a tea break was something I was not familiar with where I am from, so I was blown away when I learned high school students would casually go to Starbucks after school. It seemed really cool and extravagant to me back then.
Initially, I was visiting various cafes with my friends and enjoyed the feel-good, stylish atmosphere, but then I noticed myself leaning towards visiting coffee shops without realizing. One of the most memorable experiences was my first visit to LIGHT UP COFFEE (they no longer have their Kyoto branch sadly), and the barista served me a cup saying “this one tastes like a strawberry”- looking back, I think that was when I first fell in love with the world of specialty coffee.
-How do you and your family enjoy coffee at home?
Until I started working in the coffee industry, we were mostly drinking instant or Nescafe. I remember my mother always had it with milk. After we introduced ourselves to specialty coffee, my family started to get brewing equipment and manual brewing coffee at home. Now, my father brews coffee even at his workplace, and recently he showed me his nice portable set of grinder, dripper and a cup.
My mother uses a Kalita Tsubame Wave dripper that I gave her as a gift some time ago. The Wilfa grinder in the photo was given by Yoshihara-san, and my mother cleans it sparkling clean every time she uses- not a single fine grind left.
-Tell us about your favorite coffee shops!
To be honest, I don’t know much about the coffee scene in my hometown. Nagano is surrounded by a mountain range, the air is extremely clear, and there is that lovely smell of nature and earth in the breeze. Also at night you’d find a beautiful sky full of stars. I heard Starbucks and Komeda Coffee have opened since I moved to Kyoto- I haven’t got a chance to visit yet, but whenever I drive past I see many cars parked outside, so they must be quite popular.
In Kyoto I highly recommend Akatsuki Coffee- they serve coffee from FUGLEN COFFEE ROASTERS, my favorite one to visit when I’m in Tokyo, and the coffee never disappoints. I love how sweet and delicious the coffee Akatsuki Coffee serves, and I can never say no to their sweets. I love everything about them, even the color of their wall, cutlery or furniture.
-Do you have any other coffee-related anecdotes?
My mother loves handcrafting things, and recently she started to attend a pottery class. Her latest projects have been coffee drippers and I took some of them to my Kyoto home to use. It’s amazing to see how she improves the quality each time- the shape, angle, thickness, etc. are getting better and better, and she even made a lid the other day. I love seeing her creation and I wish everyone could see them too!
How did you enjoy Natsuko’s story? It’s amazing to see how her encounter with coffee prompted her family to start enjoying it, and it created lovely conversations, hobbies, and memories around it.
What is your “Coffee Roots”? This weekend, brew some nice cup of coffee, try thinking back to your first encounter with coffee and memorable moments- it’ll surely add a touch of something special to your everyday coffee break.
Thank you so much for reading and stay tuned for our next post!
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