WOODBERRY COFFEE in Tokyo is this month’s #KurasuPartnerRoaster. Their 5 cozy shops located across Tokyo offer an urban oasis moment for busy city dwellers. Kihara-san, the owner, shared how his childhood memory, the time in the US, and the local coffee culture inspired his journey.
Growing up in a family owned flower shop, Kihara-san witnessed first hand the challenges of running a small business. That prompted young Kihara-san to dream of getting a big, corporate job. That led him to study in the US for MBA, but that was cut short after the 3.11 Tohoku earthquake.
Moving back to Japan, Kihara-san was exploring what to do next- he reflected on his time in the US, and the third wave movement he enjoyed inspired him. 21 years young, Kihara-san decided on opening his first shop of Woodberry Coffee Roasters. Although his upbringing may have driven him to seek a different path to his family, he also knew all the ins and outs of running a business, and he soon proved to also be very talented in that too.
In 2012 when Kihara-san opened his first shop, Japan’s specialty coffee scene was still at its dawn. Cult brands like ONIBUS COFFEE and Fuglen Tokyo also opened around the same time. As the youngest but not as the last place runner, Kihara-san and his crew dived into the new culture and navigated their way through.
At WOODBERRY, they value 3 things: Sincerity, Hospitality, and Exploration. Their business has been quite successful, and one may be tempted to expand as much as possible- but Kihara-san is planning to stick with the local community. “I’d say 20 shops are the optimal size of this business to be having a notable enough contribution to the producers while also staying close to our local community. I will keep on pushing until we reach that ideal place”, he smiles- from which we could see that nothing stops him and his vision will continue to be inspirational for small business owners across Japan.