The next #kurasupartnerroaster is Oyamazaki Coffee Roasters. They have been a very good friend to us since the beginning- they visited us on many occasions as guest baristas and workshop hosts, and we have joined numerous coffee festivals together. The owners, Mayumi-san and Keita-san are much loved by many due to their warm personalities, not to mention the exquisite coffee that they roast.
We interviewed the couple last year to discover how Oyamazaki Coffee Roasters started, and why they decided to make a big change in their lives when they moved to Oyamazaki (watch their story on short film.)
A year has passed since then, and in January Oyamazaki Coffee Roasters moved to a new location, still within Oyamazaki, leading to another positive change to their business as well as their lifestyle.
A New Year in a New Place- a New Chapter has Begun
The new building has deep red tile exterior walls which were retained from the original building; they add a warm and nostalgic touch to the otherwise modernized building following the renovation. The interior is as uniquely charming as the exterior, having a large rock in the center of the floor. Compared to the previous shop, it is much more spacious and is located on the ground floor- while Mayumi-san and Keita-san live upstairs. When we asked how things are going at the new place their answer was positive as ever- “Much better than we ever could have imagined! We feel so blessed every single day”, Keita-san smiled as he replied.
Having their home and a roaster in one place had been their goal from day 1. Although, the situation didn’t allow it when they first started their business, having to move between two places caused them great difficulties in terms of managing their private time when there were so many little things they had to sort out during the startup phase of their company. Since then, they had been patiently looking for the ideal property, and finally the opportunity presented itself.
Keita-san explains that now they don’t have to get stressed with time management and transportation, they stay much more relaxed and have a positive focus on their work and their life. “Because we can now unwind, it helps us to have more energy when we have to switch the focus back to work. We may consider changing our roaster or roasting methods at some point in the future, but at the moment we feel this lifestyle is exactly what we wanted, and we have finally made it”, they both smile delightfully.
“A Home to Everyone” Built on the Legacy of the Previous Shop
The new shop has much more space compared to the previous place where customers had to sit around one table that scarcely fitted in the shop. Now customers can choose freely where to sit, picking from high stools by the wall to a bench outside.
“I do miss the cozy, crowded atmosphere that encouraged conversation with everyone” , Mayumi-san recalls, but she also explained that she feels the new place is better at being inclusive. The previous shop would get full with just a few people, and those who visited first would often feel bad about overstaying and leave more quickly than Mayumi-san had hoped- but at the same time, that lack of space led to people becoming friends.
However, the new place has enough space for people who would want to take time to shop or rather just sit quietly and enjoy some time alone. At the same time, since they chose to move rather than opening a new branch, the former regulars started to visit the new place bringing the familiar old friendly atmosphere along with them. Mayumi-san is happily observing this transition from the old to new, and she told us that now local people just drop by without even knowing what the place is, something that was almost impossible to occur at the previous place, hidden on the second floor of a residential building.
Retaining Their Classic Style- the Secret of Their Strength
Many people visited their new place upon hearing the news, and an interview with the popular magazine “CASA Brutus” attracted many people from the coffee industry. The most frequently asked question was why they don't sell cups of coffee, instead only serving free samples. Keita-san says it wasn’t a planned thing, but with so many people asking him the question it made him realize the difference their unique style made.
“If you serve coffee or just sell beans, you may get feedback sometimes- but that would be limited to 1 or 2 different cups/kinds at most. However, by offering small samples, about 4-5 different kinds of beans per person, that they then drink and discuss with us, it makes it easier for both sides to understand about their taste and their preferences. Also, considering we have a lot of regular customers, we get to learn the trends and transition in taste of different types of coffee lovers throughout the year. We are basically getting a huge amount of data every day, and I just realized what a great opportunity we have been given. This is something only this business model can achieve, and I think we are very lucky to be able to run our business this way”, Keita-san explains.
Mayumi-san and Keita-san’s journey of pursuing what they believe in and are comfortable with is a catalyst for great results, following them just like an unintentional chemical reaction- their attitude of always being true to themselves definitely is the secret of their strength.
Oyamazaki Coffee Roasters’ Roast and Their New Experiment
The special thing about their roasting style is the length of the roasting time. Most roasters take approximately 10 minutes to roast while Keita-san take at least 17 to 18 minutes even for a light roast. They occasionally go even longer, as long as 25 minutes if it’s dark- the hot air roast method allows them to roast in low heat for longer. They usually roast 10kg a day, 3 days a week, which means they are by the roaster for 5-6 hours when they roast.
At the new place, the chimney is slightly longer and city gas is provided instead of propane gas Keita-san and Mayumi-san feel that the change in the quality of the fire made their coffee taste slightly milder while they don’t feel much difference in ventilation.
They use 10 kinds of green beans, and while they were originally planning to periodically change the source, each bean quickly gained fans, and also considering the efficiency it was not a practical decision. Beans sourced from the Cup of Excellence also weren’t an option as they wanted to sustain the price range between 600-1000 yen- however, they have started something new for a change.
They call it “an experiment, or some fun”- they purchase 5kg of beans they find intriguing, and roast 1kg a week with different roasting methods, selling it out within a week. In this way, they can try on many different kinds of roasting without taking too much risk, and regulars are loving this fresh excitement. They told us that they were worried that they may have fallen into a routine without realizing, and this experiment has been a good exercise to keep their mind fresh and flexible.
Benefit of Having an Improved Lifestyle
“I’ve been thinking a lot recently, this new life gave me a chance to take time and reflect on what I have been doing, and on my ideas about coffee and roasting”, Keita-san told us. Since the beginning, it was not his wish to focus on “the roaster’s signature flavor” or “bean’s characteristics” but to maintain Its individualistic characteristics In a holistic harmony. That is why Oyamazaki Coffee Roasters’ coffee is full of flavors Just like a bouquet of beautifully arranged flowers, and it shows many different sides depending on how It is brewed. Keita-san believes that one of the best things roasters can do is to make sure everyone can enjoy the coffee in their own style, and that is what he puts his pride as a professional roaster.
If the roaster picks a certain element to stand out, it immediately determines the correct way of extraction and that ultimately limits the potential of the beans. Oyamazaki Coffee Roasters’ coffee embraces all brewing styles and welcomes any trends in coffee come along, what’s important is that the person brewing is enjoying it.
From coffee importer to barista, each stage of coffee production has its own experts. Keita-san and Mayumi-san thus decided not to worry about anything other than roasting, as that is where their profession lies. “Life is short, and if you try to do everything, you will end up not finishing anything.”- Keita-san shares their philosophy that dropping things they don’t need to focus on in favor of what’s really important to them. Living the dream, Keita-san and Mayumi-san’s smiles are as bright as ever, full of pure enjoyment of the new chapter of their life.