Kiyosumi-Shirakawa might be the center of Blue Bottle’s impending Tokyo expansion, but get this—there’s already an established coffee scene here, well worth exploring in its own right. The relaxed, easygoing neighborhood is abundant with parks, home to the Museum of Contemporary Art, and also where you can find ARiSE Coffee Roasters, a dedicated roastery and local hangout spot.
ARiSE is run by Taiju Hayashi, a skateboard-loving heavy metal fan, and die-hard coffee lover. With his colorful hats, goatee, and dreadlocks, Hayashi is perhaps not what one first pictures of the Tokyo coffee scene, but his love for the craft is as genuine as the smile he greets each customer with.
Originally starting out in fashion and apparel, the search for a more comfortable career/lifestyle balance brought Hayashi to the coffee roaster’s path. After ten years of dedicated roasting, he found himself wishing for a way to match his passion for coffee with a means to share it and connect with people—and this desire took the shape of ARiSE in 2013.
The ARiSE roastery space (named after a Sepultura album of the same name) is perhaps a peek into the mind and interests of Hayashi—bags of green beans cover the floor by the roaster in the corner, the wall behind covered in skateboard decks. Timber counters and shelving play home to a mess of coffee-filled jars and random paraphernalia—viking boats, crocodiles, toy knives, and killer flowers among them. Hayashi says it’s a messy place to work, but one gets the sense there’s as much comfort here as there is mess.
Hayashi’s love of roasting comes from the search for and discovery of new tastes, where each roast is a step closer to capturing the unique individuality of each coffee. The ARiSE selection is based around variety—a healthy mix of the traditional and the unique—and you can expect a selection of some nine different coffees with each visit.
And it’s perhaps exactly this blend of coffee variety, eclectic tastes, and chilled-out enthusiasm that has made regulars of the local community—a whole manner of people will drop by to chat, hang out, and sip at their brews. And with each passing day, more people are asking, “What’s new?” and “What’s interesting?”
Hayashi’s eyes light up at the chance to describe, recommend, and pour coffees, but it’s also about the connection—as the donut coffee drippers drip, warm aromas fill the air and conversation drifts randomly—it’s the kind of atmosphere Hayashi strives for, and the best kind of messy: inviting to young and old alike, and a conduit for interesting discussion.
While many are counting the days until the Blue Bottle opening, there’s already a variety of reasons to make the trip out to Kiyosumi-Shirakawa. One of them happens to be owned by a smiling dude in a cool hat and dreadlocks, roasting and serving some very interesting coffee.
Hengtee Lim (@Hent03) heads up Sprudge’s Tokyo desk. Read more Hengtee Lim on Sprudge.