Mar 10,2015. UPDATE

Top Tokyo Baristas Take Part in Coffee-Tasting Workshop at INTERSECT

2.18 Wed 19:30 START

Kenji Kojima (Fuglen Tokyo), Daisuke Matsushima and Takehiro Kato (PADDLERS COFFEE), Atsushi Sakao (ONIBUS COFFEE), and Takamasa Miki (OMOTESANDO KOFFEE)

Design and lifestyle magazine Casa BRUTUS features a special issue on cafes this March. As part of this, the editors organized a coffee-tasting workshop at INTERSECT BY LEXUS – TOKYO with some of the leading baristas from the Tokyo coffee scene.

The five participating baristas were Kenji Kojima (Fuglen Tokyo), Daisuke Matsushima and Takehiro Kato (PADDLERS COFFEE), Atsushi Sakao (ONIBUS COFFEE), and Takamasa Miki (OMOTESANDO KOFFEE).

Each of the coffee maestros brought their own beans for cupping, which is the process used by professionals when purchasing coffee beans in order to testing the taste and aroma.

Bring together several of the top coffee tasters in Tokyo and you might expect some rivalry, but this event was intended as an informal opportunity for the baristas to share and enjoy their craft. “It’s not a competition, so let’s have some fun,” Kojima said at the start.

When coffee cupping, the amount of beans and the temperature of the water are always the same so the participants can compare the coffee tastes as precisely as possible.

First, all the baristas tested the aroma of the beans prior to grinding. They then ground 12g of coffee beans and added exactly 200cc of hot water. After waiting four minutes, they used special spoons to taste each coffee.

The coffees were measured according to a series of criteria, including transparency, sweetness, acidity, aftertaste, and more. An assessment of high, medium or low was made for each measuring criteria. Likewise, the initial aroma was also evaluated as per qualities such as honey sweet, fruitiness, caramel, and so on.

The baristas paused the session to share their views about the coffee industry. PADDLERS COFFEE’s Daisuke Matsushima spoke about the future challenges for Japanese coffee. “The next step is for good coffee to become available at more restaurants and hotels,” he said. “When people come to Japan from overseas they notice that there are lots of good coffee shops but the coffee movement isn’t connecting with the ordinary coffee available elsewhere.”

Atsushi Sakao from ONIBUS COFFEE made an observation about the differences between coffee in Australia and Japan. “In Australia, they try to make coffee to the same level of quality at almost any coffee shop. But here in Japan there is a real discrepancy between places. That’s what makes Tokyo so special—you can choose the coffee taste you like.”

“I think of a barista as like a chef controlling the taste,” said OMOTESANDO KOFFEE’s Takamasa Miki. “We have restaurants named after their chefs but we’ve yet to see a Japanese coffee shop with the name of the barista. That’s something for the future.”

After the coffee cupping was over, each barista shared some of their secrets about the beans they had brought along.

PADDLERS COFFEE’s Takehiro Kato likes to use a Chemex coffeemaker with an 18k gold filter. “I use scales and a timer, and a hand drip. In this way I can accurately measure the timing and amount.” Sakao agreed. “Yes, use good materials and you can bring out all the taste.”

Miki sometimes prefers an espresso machine to a drip coffeemaker. “I use it when I want to balance sweetness with acidity.”

In the workshop Fuglen Tokyo barista Kojima introduced Jesus Sanchez, a coffee bean exclusive to the coffee at INTERSECT. “It has a strong aroma and fruity taste,” he explained.

Visitors can try Jesus Sanchez coffee at the INTERSECT Café until June 2015, while stocks last.