THE CONVERSATION

Kandace: こんにちは、私の名前はKandaceです

Ray: And Ray.

Kandace: We are Unpacking Coffee. Today we’re unpacking Trunk Coffee out of Nagoya, Japan.

Trunk Coffee's Kibiru Kenya blend.

Ray: Very exciting! Won’t you tell us a little bit about Trunk, Kandace?

Kandace: Sure. Trunk is co-owned by Yasuo Suzuki and Kiyohito Tanaka, and they were founded in 2014 in Nagoya, which I believe is Yasuo’s home town. They are incredibly influenced by Scandinavian culture and design.

Trunk Coffee's packaging design.

Ray: Yeah.

Kandace: Their bags are friendly and cheery, as is their café.

Ray: Yeah, look at these happy little guys. They want to be your friend.

Kandace: They want to be your friend. We also had a chance to talk to Richard Sandlin a little about Japanese coffee culture.

Royal Coffee Importer's Richard Sandlin in Kyoto 2010

Royal Coffee Importer’s Richard Sandlin in Kyoto 2010

Kandace: What would you say is the unique Japanese perspective on coffee?

Richard: Yeah, atmosphere. I’m Richard Sandlin. I’m the general manager of Royal Coffee’s newest project, The Crown Royal Coffee Lab and Tasting Room. In 2010, I lived and worked and played in bands in the greater Tokyo area. A couple of times I’ve had the opportunity to go throughout the country speaking, lecturing, or training on coffee sustainability or coffee cup quality excellence.

Photo Credit: Chataro Mameoh

Photo Credit: Chataro Mameoh

I think atmosphere and customer service in a Japanese coffee environment trumps product quality, although product quality tends to be typically high overall because the Japanese consumer tends to be very particular in terms of what they like, what they don’t like, almost universal in any Japanese coffee drinking environment whether it’s the older style kissaten culture, which is Japan’s original style of coffeehouse, down to the sleekest and utmost third-wave that would make cities like San Francisco feel at home, the attention to detail and the atmosphere is very unique and very distinct.

Ricard and Arise Coffee owner/roaster Taiju Hayashi holding an article about Bay Area Coffee written by Chataro Mameoh.

Since 2010, Japanese coffee culture, at least the placement of the Western perspective of third-wave coffee culture, has certainly changed. If you think about Japan in many other contexts, many people might think this is a place that has its own unique sense of style, it own unique sense of culture, but it’s also a place that borrows and re-invents. The same is true for coffee, so this is a place that very much has a unique and distinct coffee culture, but it’s also a place that borrows and re-invents.

With Taiju San

Richard and Arise Coffee owner/roaster Taiju Hayashi holding an article about Bay Area Coffee written by Chataro Mameoh.

In 2009, 2010, there is a very distinct Japanese coffee culture. That still exists. Maybe there might be a little bit more smattering of Western perspective of third-wave, but those things were unparalleled in Japan in a way that’s really, really interesting.

How much has it changed? I don’t know if it’s changed.

Trunk Coffee -0032

Kandace: Something interesting about coffee in Japan is that there was this almost two hundred year period called the Sakoku, I think it was 1858. There were very limited imports into Japan, and so coffee was one of those things that just like wasn’t getting into the country. Japan had their first coffee shop open in 1888.

Junk in the Trunk Bag

Ray: Is coffee big in Japan?

Kandace: Huge.

Ray: Really?

Kandace: One of the biggest importers of coffee in the world, and it’s growing.

Ray: Okay.

Kandace: That’s pretty cool.

 

Ray: It’s got a little parklet out front. We love parklets.

Kandace: A parklet.

Ray: You were talking a little bit about the style of décor.

Trunk Coffee Cup Cozie

Kandace: I think that a lot of coffee roasters that are popping up in Japan are emulating that sort of brick wall, modern industrial feel, and that Trunk is really influenced by Scandinavian design. They havecheery lights. They have colorful dishes and the tile is all different colors, and it’s just really about delight and joy, which is … It’s interesting, because they say they’re influenced by Scandinavian design, but when I think about that kind of design, that’s what Japan is to me is just like super bright, super cheery. It’s seems pretty perfect, like a marriage of sort of like Scandinavian design and Japanese aesthetic.

Kandace in Tateyama, Japan in 2011.

Nice hat.

Ray: Thank you. Thank you, Kandace.

Kandace: どうもありがとう Trunk Coffee from Nagoya. We love this coffee. Awesome.

Ray: Cool.

Kandace: I think that’s a wrap.

Ray: A final clap.

Trunk Coffee's Wollega Ethiopia and Kibiru Kenya blend side by side.