The world's best coffee
Go to Ame no Hi no Coffee and open the gate to the world of coffee. The owner、Kubota Pluto, with a bright torch in his hands, guides the way through the dark abyss that is the world of coffee. Even a complete coffee beginner like me, by talking to Kubota-san you lose track of time, as the topics do not simply stop at coffee, but touch on underlying historical, cultural, and global implications that come with it. The strong coffee aromas fill up the space and engulf every fiber of your body.
Ame no Hi no Coffee
Just 5 minutes away from Kashiwa station, across Route 6, the coffee oasis, Ame no Hi no Coffee's stylish logo is easily visible. Entering through the door, you find yourself in a different world. The different aromas of a variety of top-class coffee, big linen bags filled with coffee beans all around you. The eye-catching roasting machine in the corner, and the counter seats at the window, an area filled with originality and personality. Especially rememberable is the long counter with all the different high-class coffee beans lining up, and Kubota-sans calm and friendly voice passionately talking about coffee. Ame no Hi no Coffee opened its doors in 2013, and of course, customers can enjoy a cup of freshly dripped coffee, but the main business is selling home-roasted coffee beans. Kubota-san started roasting coffee beans when he was just 19, and his year-long experience and masterful technique further elevate the already world-class coffee beans. Using a very rare roasting machine, his coffee beans have a special taste you can only enjoy at "Am no Hi no Coffee". Of course, the final taste of coffee is in large part based on the upbringing of the beans, their variety, the way there are fermented, but the final touch, what makes each coffee very unique is inflicted through the roasting process, and this is where Kubota-san reveals his true mastery. To understand the different quality levels of coffee beans let us explore the "Coffee Pyramid" next.
The "Coffee Pyramid"
Better understanding the high quality of coffee beans used at Ame no Hi no Coffee, I will introduce the "Coffee Pyramid" next. At the bottom of the pyramid is the lowest level of quality, going up the pyramid the quality increases. Coffee beans are scored based on the sustainability and traceability of their background. Above 80 points, they are considered "Speciality Coffee", and above 88 points, they are "Top of Top", or the world's best.
By the way, the coffee we were offered by Kubota-san were all "Top of Top", something very unusual for a non-coffee drinker like me. The first cup we had was from a "washed" coffee bean, the second cup was from an "unwashed" variety. Washed coffees are easier to keep the quality on a consistent level, while coffee from unwashed beans keeps more of its natural flavor. Especially the first cup, with its natural fruity flavor was something I did not expect from a coffee. That just shows how little I know about coffee. Since coffee beans are the seeds of the coffee fruit, having this fruity flavor means experiencing the bean's most original taste. All of the lined up coffee beans on the counter are at least above 80 points on the coffee bean scale, making them at least specialty coffee, that keeps some of its natural flavors. Specialty coffee accounts for only about 5% of all coffee, and top of top only for a few percents among that.
Japanese high standard
Before coming here, I did not have an image of Japan as a big coffee country, but Japanese consume three times more coffee than green tea. Kubota-san is very proud of Japanese coffee, they use their advanced technology to create some of the most delicious coffee in the world. According to Kubota-san they also pay the most money per single cup of coffee in the world.
The world of coffee
I enjoyed listening to Kubota-san's theories about the taste of coffee in different cultures. In Japan and America, most of the coffee is stronger, while going from south to north in Europe, the coffee taste changes drastically. In southern Europe, most coffee is strong and bitter, in my country (Germany) coffee gets weaker with a sour note, and countries in the northern parts of Europe have the sourest taste. Kubota-san makes one more cup of coffee, this time one he thinks Germans would enjoy as well. The last time I have had German coffee must be somewhat around 10 years ago, and even though I am German, I must say I would prefer a stronger Japanese-style cup.
The mentality of coffee master
Japan is the kingdom of artisans or "Shokunin" in Japanese. Normally when people think about a Shokunin, they imagine blades or knives, something made out of wood. But, real Shokunin define themselves over the way they approach their work. They put their soul in everything they do, never stop striving for improvement, and always think about the next step in developing their skills. Ame no Hi no Coffee's Kubota-san fits this description of a real Shokunin. As a designer by trade, who created all of his logos and packagings, a master at giving the designs in his head a real-life form. From a young age, he was pursuing the supreme coffee, and till now he has visited an unbelievable number of almost 1500 coffee shops. Kubotan-san is home roasting coffee beans for close to 40 years and is always looking for ways to make his coffee excel further.
Bean Brothers（Ame no Hi no Coffee ＆ Tribal Cacao）
Not even 1 minute by foot from Ame no hi no coffee is Tribal Cacao, Kashiwa's chocolate specialty shop. They as well only use the world's best beans crafting and selling bean-to-bar chocolate. Two stores producing different products from high-class beans, this can be no coincidence, you might think? And you are right. Even though brothers in spirit only, it was Kubota-san pushing Tribal Cacao's owner towards high-class chocolate making. Tribal Cacao's logo and packaging designs are mostly Kubota-san's work. "After the evolution of coffee, now the age of chocolate will begin. Even after 100 years, there will be a market," Kubota-san says with confidence. Coffee and Cacao also share a lot of commonalities. Do you remember the change in the taste of coffee from western to eastern Europe? Actually, chocolate is the same. To get to know more about chocolate, why not read the article about Tribal Cacao?
Date of coverage: 12th November 2019
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