Welcome to The Sprudge Twenty Interviews presented by Pacific Barista Series. For a complete list of 2022 Sprudge Twenty honorees please visit sprudge.com/twenty.

Yasuo Ishii is the founder of Leaves Coffee Roasters. I strongly admire his passion to seek the best out of everything. When he was a professional boxer at the age of 18, his career was over in the ring by breaking his fist. A young Yasuo had to work hard from morning through night to raise his children. In 2011, he opened his first Spanish restaurant. The customer gave him a bag of coffee that was Ethiopian Natural apparently. His life has completely changed since then.

The concept of the shop is “From the town roastery, to the world.” means a lot to him and his team. I would like to send this nomination to encourage him to pursue his dream to someday become the World Roasting Champion.

Nominated by Miho Hariu

Do you have a coffee-making ritual?

Yes, I do believe in rituals for the high level of tasting uniformity. It comes from being defined down to such small pieces of moves like folding a filter paper with the same pressure, setting brewing tools on the same spot, and facing them in the same direction every single time I brew.

What is the quality you like best about coffee?

The moment of feeling, “Oishii!” (“Delicious” in Japanese) That is the sign of happiness.

What’s your favorite song to brew coffee to? 

It’s quite a big deal to make myself or my customer feel the ambience is perfect to have coffee. Not only the coffee itself but also music, ambience, brewing tools and grinders or table, all the part of the store design refers to satisfaction. I always choose instrumental ones, cosy, warm, and relaxed. Tempo should be like my heart beat.

Do you have a favorite item of clothing to make coffee in?

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When I visit my wholesale customer for training or do as a lecturer at a seminar, I wear white polished shirt. If my shirt stays clean without any stains and grounds on from the beginning to the end, that means to prove what I teach them is alright.

What was the last cup of coffee you enjoyed?

The pour-over I had at one of our wholesale customers surprised me. It was El Salvador Finca Mileydi Pacamara Washed. I went there for their quality check but it turned out to be a mind blowing experience! I thought I was sure about my brewing as I roasted them by myself. I was really happy with that cup quality he had gained.

What is your idea of coffee happiness?

To make everyone I care about happy.

What issue in coffee do you care about most?

Our current topic is about brewing water. Recently, we went to the southern part of Japan to find the best brewing water. There are four seasons in Japan. As 98% of a cup of coffee is water, it causes some differences in components. What is the situation in your country? Do the seasons affect the cup quality? Let us know!

What cause or element in coffee drives you?

The coffee lets me live. I simply feel the energy from it.

What issue in coffee do you think is critically overlooked?

The value. It is easy to be misjudged a cup of coffee at a shop. Apparently, the final result that you can see all is made by a barista. Although, brewing cannot be exceeded by roasting, and roasting cannot be exceeded by green quality. I think the most important element is the origin. Making a better cup quality of coffee is just one of our our fundamental jobs. Our next goal is to make our customer aware of the value of origin.

Did you experience a “god shot” or life-changing moment of coffee revelation early in your life?

My life-changing moment was when I opened a Spanish restaurant 12 years ago. I got a bag of coffee as a present. Looking back now, I recognize that it was Ethiopia Natural but I had no idea what it was at that time. That piece of gift was a sparkle. Honestly, I don’t remember who it was from but I still remember vividly the sweetness and fruitiness.

If you could have any job in the coffee industry, what would it be and why?

R&D mechanical engineer as I do love coffee gadgets! Designing brewing tools, developing grinders, customizing burrs into them. Well… I am already doing it though!

Who are your coffee heroes?

Kenji Kojima from Fuglen Japan. He is definitely the one who encouraged me in the business. He showed me around the coffee culture in Oslo, Portland, and Paris a few years back. I learnt a lot from him.

Where do you see yourself in 2042?

I cherish the present moment because I believe your daily efforts are producing strong results. I won’t tell you what I want to be but I can absolutely say I will have a white beard, wear a panama hat, and roast coffee.

Thank you!

The Sprudge Twenty Interviews are presented by Pacific Barista Series. For a complete list of 2022 Sprudge Twenty honorees please visit sprudge.com/twenty.