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About Us

We are a specialty coffee shop with the vision to spread coffee culture from Kyoto, Japan to the globe.

Kurasu comes from the Japanese word “to live” or “lifestyle.” Starting from a small online homeware shop back in 2013,  we now run physical and online shops to deliver quality specialty coffee roasted in our Nishijin Roastery, tea and Japanese brewing equipment to the world.

We provide high-quality coffee from Kyoto and advocate for Japanese coffee culture, coffee community, and homebrew. Working together, we aim to realize a sustainable future in coffee.

Our (My) Story by Yozo Otsuki

It was May 2013 and I had just moved to Sydney, Australia.

I had just quit my tenure working in investment bank Goldman Sachs Tokyo a few months back and searching for new opportunities. I had an opportunity to relocate to the Sydney which I jumped upon. Having experience in the field, I started searching for jobs in the finance industry again, but something did not feel right. Why waste this amazing fresh opportunity on something that I've already done and tired and I knew that wasn't going to make me happier?

At the same time, being in a new country outside of Japan, I had the chance to see how people where appreciative of Japan and its products - the unique craft, minimalism, and splendid design it had to offer. New friends kept on asking me how they reminisced the beautiful products they could buy on their trip to Japan or how they could buy the homeware I had in my new home. These experiences got me thinking - could this become a potential business?

March 2015, Kurasu rebranded to focus solely on coffeewares - and to target a global audience.

Being able to feature Japanese homeware to the Australian market was an incredible experience, but to take Kurasu to the next level I felt we needed a precise focus and to target a global audience. That precise focus was coffee and to target the global audience, we moved our logistics operations back to Japan - this way we were able to ship items directly to customers worldwide cutting out as much middle man as possible.

Photo: Sydney, July 2014

We wanted not just to be a provider of Japanese coffee equipment, but to focus on the education of the Japanese way of home brew, the Japanese coffee culture and the art of coffee itself. With the third wave coffee movement taking the world by storm, we saw how it was rooted from the Japanese coffee scene. The craft, care, and mentality the Japanese put into coffee parallel no other. The new focus has allowed our growth to be exponential, reaching 25 countries worldwide, shipping out hundreds of items monthly.

We have continued our expansion by launching our monthly subscription service to ship coffee roasted by artisan Japanese roasters on October 2015.

First Physical Store, Kurasu Kyoto Stand opens August 2016.

One of the most asked questions especially from our overseas customers was if we had a physical space they could visit as part or their trip to Japan. We always felt honoured that Kurasu was on the minds of many as part of visiting Japan. Meanwhile, we also wanted to put more focus on our Japanese audience, and what better way then to have a storefront.

In the spring of 2016, we’ve made our decision to embark on our next journey of opening a retail space in my hometown of Kyoto. After opening our doors in August, we soon became known throughout the city as the premier specialty coffee stand in Kyoto, featured in prominent Japanese and foreign publications.

Most of all, we were so excited to be a location where overseas and local customers alike can gather to buy, drink, and chat about everything coffee.

After the successful opening of Kurasu Kyoto Stand, we expanded our branches abroad to pursue our mission of spreading Japanese coffee culture to the globe. 

In 2017, we opened our first overseas branch, Kurasu Singapore, followed by Kurasu Bangkok in 2019. Both branches are led by local managers; Kurasu Singapore by Angelo and Kurasu Bangkok by Aum.

While we work closely together as a global team and share the core mission of spreading Japanese coffee and home-brew culture to the globe, each branch has developed its own uniqueness through their service catered to the needs of the local customers. 

We're proud and grateful to have such a strong and talented team, and what brings us together is passion for coffee.

What is coffee to me?

Coffee is my passion and it’s what I do right now for a living through Kurasu - spreading the word of Japanese coffee culture and selling beautiful Japanese coffee equipment’s to the world.

Coffee has allowed myself to open doors to unlimited possibilities and to be able to connect with amazing people from all over the world.

On a personal level, it’s the process to be able to let go of the hassles or busy work schedule for the day. It’s to enjoy the pour,smell, bloom, and the sound of drip.

Moreover, coffee is remembering how my mom brewed for me, and how that experience has shaped me to who I am.

Moving on to the next stage

I started Kurasu all by myself, and now the team has grown to consist of almost 40 staff members including our global branches. It's time we take ourselves to a new level.

I am proud to introduce Ayaka, who has been our founding member of Kurasu Kyoto Stand as a barista, to the board as director from August 2022.

Kurasu's vision as a company structure has always been to create opportunities for anyone passionate about coffee and an environment where coffee can become a lifetime career. Ayaka embodies this vision, from starting as a barista with three teammates to now leading Kurasu's global operation.

I will continue to serve as Kurasu's director, continuing to do my part and supporting Ayaka and our team to help build Kurasu for a sustainable future and "to spread coffee culture, from Kyoto to the globe."

More on her story down below.

Ayaka Oki: From a barista to director

I started my career in the coffee industry at the age of 18 as a barista at Starbucks. During my 4 years in the company, I became fascinated with the world of coffee and decided to take on the challenge of working abroad in Melbourne, Australia. After working at a local cafe as a barista for a year, I started looking for job opportunities in Japan.

I still remember my interview over Skype with Yozo back in 2016. I never imagined I would become a director at the time, but I knew I could trust and would follow him. During our call he said, “you can totally turn the offer down if it doesn’t feel right when you actually meet me in person”- I’ve never met someone saying anything like that before. All I knew before was a structured, top-down hierarchy. This eye-opening experience has shaped the way I treat other staff members and it has been consistent throughout my career as cafe manager, general manager and now director.

"I’d love to be a role model of something different when baristas look for a different path as the future plans."

Opening a coffee shop of your own is a common goal to have if you love coffee and are in the coffee industry- but I’d love to be a role model of something different when baristas look for a different path as the future plans.

I want to make Kurasu a place that gives people hope and inspiration to pursue their passion. I am sure that my experience as a barista and manager will enable me to guide each team member to follow their heart and establish a long-term career in the coffee industry.

Today, we have not only baristas and roasters, but also marketing and accounting officers in our team. We are united through passion for coffee and together we will do our best “to spread coffee culture, from Kyoto to the globe.”