The fragrant aroma with a hint of sweetness rising from the cup.
The bitterness, sweetness, and a bit of acidity fill the mouth.
The taste is very dense and reminds me of some fruits.
We asked for a fruity coffee, and the Taiwanese coffee that was brewed for us efficiently and dramatically changed our concept of "fruity" in coffee.
We talked with Yuma Kawano of "LIGHT UP COFFEE," our favorite coffee shop, about the whole process of a single bean, from the beginning to the end, from cultivation to extraction.
We always think that coffee is the closest thing to tea. It is both nonessential items and a drink.
There is the cultivation of coffee beans and tea leaves, which are the raw materials, and only after processing does they become drinkable. Depending on the variety, origin, and processing method, different flavors are created. Furthermore, the taste of the drink changes depending on the temperature and equipment used to extract it. We think they are very similar in that many factors come together before the drink is consumed.
This time, we talked with Yuma, who is full of passion for coffee, about the many similarities and differences between the two drinks.
From production to extraction, what LIGHT UP COFFEE thinks about coffee.
Q. Thank you for your time today. I'd like to ask you about your honest impressions of the FETC tea you drank recently.
For one thing, the fact that it comes in small portions was a better experience than I expected. I don't know how many grams of tea to put in a cup, and being able to open it up and use it quickly was very easy.
I know that the taste of tea changes depending on the temperature range, but I don't know what is appropriate for this type of tea leaves, but the recipe on the card is beneficial.
The recipe also says, "Brew this tea this way to get these characteristics," which is good for me. And, of course, it tastes good. It tastes terrific.
Q. Great...I'm so happy to hear you say that, Yuma. When I drank LIGHT UP's Taiwanese coffee before, it completely changed my image of coffee, but did it change your image of tea?
It was interesting to know that each cultivar has a different character. 100 grams of tea would take a long time to finish, even if you drank it every day. If you buy 100 grams or so, it will take you a long time to finish it even if you drank it every day, but then you wouldn't know the difference in taste between teas.
Q. I understand; you can't tell the difference in taste until you compare the two.
That's right. When you drink many different kinds of tea in a short period, you can see that this tea is more refreshing than that one or that it tastes milky. It's a new experience for me because I can see the range of teas and understand the direction of my own preferences.
Q. Thank you very much. By the way, what did you brew it with then?
I brewed it with a French press.
ーOh, we've never tried that either.
Immersion and permeation. Extraction methods chosen in reverse.
Q. I think the most common way to extract tea is with a kyusu, but you can actually brew it like a drip of coffee. I believe there are many extraction methods and equipment for coffee, including the French press I mentioned earlier, but which extraction method does LIGHT UP use?
Basically, everything is drip.
Q. Is there a reason for that?
Because it's good. Just because it's the best.
There is no technology involved in the immersion method. Because the only variable is time. There's no room for making the coffee, so it tastes good or cuts out the beans' individuality.
If you want to start making coffee, but it's difficult to brew, or you can't keep up with how they taste changes depending on how it's brewed, just wait 4 minutes in a French press, and it will be absolutely delicious. You won't have to doubt yourself there.
ーIndeed, I often wondered if it was my fault that the tea didn't taste good initially.
Yes, that's where everyone stumbles. We think there's something wrong with the way we brew, but surprisingly, it might just be that the beans aren't suitable for me, so I don't get a flash. You can see that clearly with a French press.
Q. So, does that mean that LIGHT UP chose drip to bring out a kind of "individualistic taste"?
That's right. There are two reasons exactly; one is that it can be infused with a person's will.
Many coffee shops have a set recipe, and many of them follow the formula of "how many grams of hot water to pour, in how many ml, in how many minutes." But to be honest, that's kind of boring, isn't it? Then why not use a machine?
When I think about it, the most enjoyable moment of making coffee is to grasp the beans' goodness, taste the fruitiness, and clarity.
If you just soak the beans, all flavor comes out, but if you drip, you can "bring out more of this part and less of that part." By using techniques, the negatives are reduced, and the positives are conveyed more. I think the beauty of dripping is that the characteristics of the beans can be improved through the hands of a person.
In addition, each of us has our own way of deciding which positive flavor to bring out. The first reason is that it is easy to reflect their skills.
ーI see what you mean.
Another reason is that it is easier to "get the flavor out" with a drip.
The difference between immersion and drip is the constant permeation of freshwater. The ingredients are dissolved into the hot water room during extraction, so the more room there is, the more new components are released. If you just soak the water, you won't get as much flavor because you're trying to get more of the various ingredients into the already hot water.
In dripping, fresh, zero-density water comes out, and the ingredients are rapidly released into it.
The second half of the hot water in the drip is to bring out the sweetness, and that sweetness will make the cup have a long and balanced aftertaste. Drip is more suitable to control the extraction rate.
Especially in lightly roasted coffee, it is necessary to extract all the flavor, and although it is possible with a French press, I think it is easier to add human will to it with a drip.
ーOkay, that's interesting. For tea, it's basically the steeping method with kyusu, so the drip concept is new to me. I'd like to dig deeper into both of the two points you just made...
Wait, there was a third reason.
ーLet me hear it.
The third reason was that coffee contains more oil than other drinks, and I wanted to cut the fat and make it more straightforward.
Q.Does that mean it's because it's a paper filter? (*Paper absorbs oil, so filtering cuts down on the oil content of the coffee)
Yes, we don't use metal filters in our house. The beauty of dripping is that you can use paper filters.
Q.Tea also has a texture, and the presence of oil changes the way we perceive the taste. Specifically, the human tongue is more likely to perceive the flavor and sweetness if it is a little thicker. So the goal is to reduce that kind of lingering taste, is that right?
One of the most essential concepts to check the quality of coffee is the term "clean cup," in short, clarity. The coffee that scores the maximum is on the same level as water, and you can't taste any other impure flavors.
Coffee is so clear that you can feel its individuality. If it's not clear, you can't really feel the difference. That's why it is imperative to handle the clearness to feel the uniqueness of the beans.
It's not that French presses that leave a greasy residue are not precise, but it's more clearer if you use paper filters. That's one of the reasons why we use paper filters.
ーListening to what you just said, I can clearly see that LIGHT UP values the individuality of the beans. The concept of maximizing the uniqueness of the beans through an individual approach, even if it is a little personal, is the company's premise.
About LIGHT UP COFFEE's selection of beans, pursuing the individuality of the ingredients.
Q.I also wanted to ask you about how you choose your beans. We are a select tea store, so to speak, but what kind of criteria do you use when selecting beans?
The first criterion is a season.
Coffee has its own freshness, and it is basically one year after it is harvested in its green state. There may be the concept of the vintage, but that is not our standard for taste.
Coffee is a crop, just like vegetables, so we enjoy it the year it is harvested. The next year's crop is enjoyed the following year again. In short, we want to drink up the beans that arrive fresh while they are still fresh. I think that's the right feeling for me.
The second criterion is to avoid having the same character.
We do this to make it easier for the customer to choose. When a customer comes to the store and asks the staff, "Do you want Costa Rica, Ethiopia, or Kenya?" I think he/she would say, "Give me the best one."
That's right, ordinary people don't know that. Only people who are used to drinking coffee can choose when asked that question.
ーI understand. To make a choice, the customer needs to have a resolution
Exactly. That's why we try not to put beans close in character so that people with low coffee resolution can understand the difference. We try to put beans from one end of the spectrum to the other to clearly say that this one is the freshest, this one is the sweetest, and this one is the fruitiest.
At the Kichijoji store, we have a set of three different coffees to compare, and I recommend that to customers who are new to LIGHT UP, and if they find a coffee they like, I ask them to try the drip selection when they come back.
When people compare coffee, they realize how different the flavors are.
Recently, I've been writing the flavor on the card, such as "JUICY" or "FLORAL. In the past, I used to write down the producer and the place of origin, but then I realized that (from the customer's point of view), I don't really care if I write these things down.
The third is the axis of deliciousness.
However, the sense of deliciousness is subjective, and it is not delicious for everyone. Therefore, it is directly related to the concept of what kind of taste LIGHT UP is looking for.
In other words, our coffee has a unique flavor that can be compared to fruit and is not like coffee. I tend to choose coffees that have an exciting fruit flavor.
Q.When we choose teas, we tend to choose teas that have an interesting personality with one thing that stands out rather than those with a flat taste. You mentioned fruity, but where does the fruity taste of coffee come from?
Varieties and fermentation. The cultivar determines the chemical composition of the wine and the type of microorganism used in the fermentation process.
Recently, we've tried adding lactic acid bacteria, or in our case, we've attempted to ferment with the yeast we use for ciders or champagne. At that time, the cider yeast was delicious, but basically, I think it's natural to let the indigenous bacteria eat it.
ーThe other day, I read a book on fermentation. It's a book called "Fermentation Cultural Anthropology" by Hiraku Ogura.
Oh, I know. I've heard of.
ーI read in that book that microorganisms are very indigenous, aren't they? Different countries, farms, and workplaces have various organisms living in them, which changes the taste. I thought it was exciting that it was meant to keep doing things the old-fashioned way. The process of fermentation makes it possible to make coffee that can only be made there. I think that's why people pay so much attention to the place of origin.
To extend that story, more and more people are now concerned about the origin of the beans, but most people judge the beans by their roasting condition. Most people imagine the taste based on whether it's shallow roasted or deep roasted.
However, I think that what we should really pay attention to is the place of production. It's only the farms that produce the most fundamental ingredients.
A chemical reaction in roasting produces a fruity aroma, but that is just making 3 or 5 out of 1, and I think the most remarkable thing is the farmer who makes 0→1.
ーOf the many processes from cultivation to processing, roasting, and extraction, it's the plantation that sheds the most light.
Yes, it's just a farm.
(To be continued)
In the second half, we will discuss why we emphasize the production process, LIGHT UP's approach to roasting, and our thoughts on selecting beans.