When we last visited the Tokyo Coffee Festival in 2016, organizer Yuji Otsuki said it was a chance to introduce people to the local scene and show them the ease of brewing at home. Since then, the festival has established itself as a chance to explore new coffee, learn more about it, listen to live music, and try other specialty food and drink.
And with the most recent event just finished, I thought it would be interesting to look at the ways the festival has grown and what new developments have taken place since we first covered the festival—it’s a look at what was, what is, and what to look forward to in the future!
The most recent Tokyo Coffee Festival was also its espresso debut, with duties rotating on two-hour shifts to offer visitors a variety of coffee to try from coffee shops including Rec Coffee, Fuglen Coffee Roasters, and And Coffee Roasters.
From far flung islands
Though the event is always a showcase for Tokyo coffee roasters like Single O Japan, Light Up Coffee, 4/4 Seasons Coffee, and Glitch Coffee Roasters, it’s also blossomed into an event that introduces a variety of coffee shops from outside of Tokyo, too. Highlights this year included Cerrado Coffee—all the way from Okinawa with a sweet Ethiopia Gedeb—and Coral Coffee, who came from the coasts of the Goto Islands of Nagasaki!
From afar, but not too far
From outside of Tokyo, the Tokyo Coffee Festival hosted Takamura Wine & Coffee Roasters from Osaka, Hoshikawa Cafe from Saitama, Trunk Coffee from Nagoya, and Hibi Coffee from Kyoto, who brought a little of the tea ceremony to their kimono-clad barista working on pour-over coffee!
From neighboring Asia
When we first talked in 2016, Otsuki had mentioned with some surprise that a Taiwanese coffee shop had wanted to take part in the festival. This year, the lineup of Asian coffee shops outside of Japan included Papa Palheta from Singapore, St.1 Cafe and Aroma Cafe Live from Taiwan, and Blooom Coffee House from Macau.
The overseas selection
It isn’t just the Asian coffee roasters with an interest in the festival, however, and the September Tokyo Coffee Festival included the likes of The Barn from Germany, Artificer from Sydney, Aloha Coffee Lab from Hawaii, and New Zealand’s Coffee Supreme, who not only sold a selection of cute red and white socks, but have also just recently opened their first Tokyo coffee shop.
A celebration of specialty
Though coffee is at the heart of the Tokyo Coffee Festival, it’s also an opportunity to introduce people to other specialty food and drink that shares in the craftsmanship and pursuance of natural flavors inherent in specialty coffee, and products made in the same vein or related to coffee in some way. Craft beer is often on display, but this year also saw specialty chocolate-covered bananas courtesy of Minimal, and Prana Chai with their specialty tea.
Educating and Entertaining
More recently, the Tokyo Coffee Festival has hosted talk events featuring competition champions like Japan Barista Champion Miki Suzuki, and World Brewers’ Cup Champion Tetsu Kasuya. This year the event hosted the JAC finals, as well as a talk on the Taiwanese coffee scene courtesy of Goodmans Coffee representative, Atsuomi Ito.
Photos courtesy of Kazu Poon.