We’re three months into the Kurasu x Good Coffee subscription that brings the best Japanese roasters right here to my doorstep in Kansas City and I couldn’t be happier with the experience so far. For a mere $20/month I get two 100-gram packets of coffee from the featured roaster. As you can imagine, when I have 20 bags of coffee sitting on my countertop at any given time I don’t exactly need any more, but I knew without this subscription I’d probably never get any of these coffees in my hands, so it has been very valuable for me.
The first month for the subscription was Oct. 2015, featuring Glitch’s Natural Yirgacheffe and Rwanda Coko (so far, the only coffee I haven’t liked… it was very under-roasted for me), last month was the amazing Trunk Coffee Co.’s Yirgacheffe Hama and Costa Rica Herbazu, and this month we received two coffee’s from Takamura Wine & Coffee Roaster.
If you’ve been on the fence about this subscription at all, get off of it! LOL The coffee ships FASTER (faster than I get things shipped from within the USA). No exaggeration, Kurasu ships the coffee within 2-3 days of it being roasted and I receive the coffee 2 days later.
This month’s featured roaster is Takamura Wine and Coffee Roaster, located in Osaka, Japan. So far we’ve been steadily moving southwest in the subscription, which started with Glitch in Tokyo, then Trunk in Nagoya and now Takamura in Osaka. Yozo san, owner of Kurasu, wrote a great article on Takamura which you should check out. To summarize, Takamura opened for business in 1992 as a well-stocked liquor store, garnering lots of happy customers thanks to their large selection. They spread into the online domain and have won Rakuten’s (Japanese Amazon, basically) Shop of the Year award for wine companies 11 years in a row. Was there supposed to be a bottle of wine in my coffee package this month?? 🙂 Recognizing the similarities in appreciating wine and coffee, Takamura expanded and re-branded in 2013 to begin roasting and selling their own coffee.
All that brings me to the first coffee I decided to try, the Natural. This is a Grade 1 selection, meaning a lot of hard work went into hand-sorting this lot of coffee multiple times from picking to milling the dried cherry off the beans. This coffee is sourced through a well-known Japanese coffee importer who focuses Cup of Excellence and other high-end lots. A glance at the annual Cup of Excellence auctions will tell you that an awful lot of the highest-end beans from every country are heading back to Japan, which is another reason I am happy to pay for this subscription!
This is a natural from Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia, so the beans are growing in the 1800-2000masl range, most likely and, as always, the varietals are combinations of the many heirloom varieties that grow there in the birthplace of coffee!
This coffee had a very sweet strawberry aroma in the bag and the dry fragrance on the grounds was similar. I used my trusty 1:15 ratio in my Gino dripper with unbleached Kalita 185 filters for brewing my cups and the aroma on the coffee was along the lines of some of the really great washed Yirgs I’ve been getting my hands on lately. There were a lot of gorgeous floral aromas coming off the Gino and usually that’s as good as my description of flowers gets, but in this case it reminded me of roses! I even got a little rose flavor in the cup on my first few sips.
The aroma in the cup included that rose note along with a bit of ferment.. The rose came through in my first couple sips and then either my palate attenuated to it or it volatilized out of the cup. I also got a bit of ferment/strawberry and some bittersweet chocolate out of my first couple sips. As the cup cooled and opened up it settled down into having some unexpected delicacy and complexity.
There is beautifully sweet base to the cup with strawberry and a little lime acidity in the finish and aftertaste. There are tropical fruits and even hints of coconut for me up front in the sip and there is a floral, almost-spiciness, that dances around all of it. This is not a fruit/ferment bomb of a natural. It’s sweet without being cloying and there is also a very “adult” bitterness underscoring all of the flavors, lending extra depth and complexity to the cup. The complexity loses a bit of drinkability for me because there is so much going on in the cup, but I was happy to sip away at this natural Yirgacheffe from Takamura until the coffee was stone cold and it remained excellent throughout. What a great cup! It will be a few days before I can get into the washed version and I can’t wait!