Where do I even begin, from the light up tamp, to the awesome people, I knew this trip was going to be one to remember.
First off, I just want to thank Blenz for giving me the opportunity to go to the obviously incredible Japan. I didn’t know what to expect from such an amazing and incredible culture. What I noticed about most of the cafes I went to was the dreaded “Automatic” espresso machines. La Cimbali and La Marzocco seemed to be Tokyo’s weapon of choice, though for the most part, the espresso was not that great…We at least know they’re doing the milk right, because every drink had latte art.
The first cafe we went to was Le Cafe Doutor which had some pretty sweet equipment, they had two, 2 group Marzocco’s (looks like linea semi auto’s). All the cafes did single shots and on the drink I ordered, they used cocoa powder. One of the things that impressed me was how late the cafes stayed open and how big some of them were. I went to Doutor at 11 pm one night and all 2 floors of it were PACKED!
Friend and fellow barista Arthur Wynne told me of a few places he’d been when he was in Tokyo, judging the WBC finals. He said I had to check out Paul Bassett’s cafe who if you do not know already: is the WBC champion of 2003, unfortunately his cafe was closed down which was a drag. Read more about paul here Another place he told me to check out was Cafe Paulista, though I never had time to order a drink there it looked pretty vintage.
The Coffee Show was very much like Coffee Fest Seattle, in easier words, its about the people. The show was great, I got to see the JBC (Japanese Barista Championship) and I have to say, these guys/girls were a pleasure to watch, they just seemed so calm and precise up there. I got the chance to work with other latte art champions at a small booth, including the 2008 Seattle Millrock winner: Hiroshi Sawada and 2 time winner 2007 Seattle and Atlanta Millrock winner: Layla Osberg.
I was so impressed at the latte art these barista’s were pouring with such ease and perfectly poised, I learned a quite a bit from watching them!
This is Asuka, I believe she won the Blenz latte art comp in Japan!
Me, being the eager barista I am, decided that serving drinks in togo cups just wasn’t quite good enough! I found a Marzocco booth showing of the new linea with paddles, My favorite Japanese barista, Junko Hata was serving specialty drinks (in stay cups). Junko was trained by David Schomer and has her own shop –which I didn’t get to go to unfortunately, called Do Cafe. The cafe is right outside of Tokyo in Okoyama, they use Espresso Vivace. I got the chance to work with her behind the ‘zocco which dispite my thoughts about the machine before, was quite enjoyable.
Can you spot the Schomer influence?
One word: Syphon. Syphon coffee is so popular in Japan and for a good reason, it looks cool, its traditional, and it produces great tasting coffee. It actually reminds me alot of the Clover, its brewing method is ingenious. First the hot water rises into the top chamber where the coffee grinds are, after its done brewing the heat lamp is removed and the “now” coffee is dropped back into the first chamber, the top chamber is then taken out with the coffee grinds remaining in it, the bottom chamber is yours to enjoy.
Getting the chance to learn, enjoy, and experience coffee on the other-side of the earth is one of the most fascinating things I’ve ever gotten to do. I have learned alot from this trip and feel I am a better barista because of it. I cant wait to go back, I thank Blenz again for the amazing opportunity.