It was a busy 2014 for Coutume—the Parisian café and roastery opened their Tokyo café in April, they relocated their Paris roastery, and introduced a slow-bar at their Paris flagship cafe to educate and showcase brewing methods to the Parisian public. On top of all that, the 12th of December saw them surprise everyone with a brand new cafe in the heart of Osaka.
Preparations were fast—the new staff underwent training personally handled by head-roaster Antoine Nétien, and post-opening training continued at the hand of two of the Tokyo branch head-baristas. “The Osaka staff is very good, and very passionate,” said Nétien, “During training, they arrived at 7:00 in the morning for briefing, and left at 11:00 in the evening for debriefing. Then they came in the next morning to improve again. Very dedicated.”
So far, interest levels are high—opening day saw people lined up outside of the store, with the staff given plenty of opportunity to share specialty coffee with a new audience.
The coffee counter is very much in-line with Coutume’s Tokyo store—Alphadominche brewer front and center next to a pristine white Synesso espresso machine, with the manual brew-bar moved towards the back of the store to allow for a smoother flow of service. “The machinery is the same,” said Antoine, “but we moved the Hario V-60 filter bar to the back. People who want their coffees to-go can stay at the front, but moving the brew-bar allows customers more of a chance to engage the baristas—they can see what’s happening, talk about the coffee, perhaps ask for advice. It’s what we’ve done at our flagship store, too.”
Nétien said the goal is to maintain quality through constant communication, “We’ve found a way to keep communication between all of our cafes, both the Japanese and the Paris branches. We want everyone to share recipes, discoveries, and grow together.”
The coffee scene in Osaka is one that’s growing, though Nétien says he feels progress is a little slower than in Tokyo, “There’s no light roast, yet,” he said, “but it is starting to get lighter at a couple of places. It’s not changing as fast as it is in Tokyo though.”
And what of Tokyo’s burgeoning coffee scene? I was curious as to how Nétien felt about it since the last time we talked in April of this year at the opening of the Aoyama cafe, and his impression was a positive one. As he explained, “In one year, less even, it’s crazy. Many people are roasting much lighter now. Lighter and lighter. Fuglen opened their roastery, soon Blue Bottle will open their roastery. It’s progressing very quick from dark to light.”
But for Coutume, the future beckons, and with it the opportunity to further spread specialty coffee. The near future will see a collaboration project with fashionistas Comme des Garçons in front of CDG 54 rue Faubourg St Honoré in Paris, to be called “Honor”, and focused training sessions will see six of their baristas entering national competitions. On the Tokyo-side of things, a concept store is in the works in the ever-developing Futako-Tamagawa area of Tokyo—a Haute-Coutume style concept that will showcase a variety of rare coffees – planned for early February.
And together with plans for a Tokyo roastery and training center on the horizon, it seems the Coutume train shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.
Imagery courtesy Coutume Café.