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Beans Kitami

A less than 30-minute train ride from Tokyo’s Shibuya station, Kitami is located in the western outskirts of Setagaya Ward. While being just across the river from the upscale residential area of Seijo, Kitami still retains its natural beauty and human touch. In this peaceful neighborhood, where you can find unmanned vegetable stands on side streets, there is a roastery long committed to custom roasting: Beans Kitami, founded in 1988. On weekends and holidays, customers wait for their orders for up to three hours. And that’s just business as usual at Beans Kitami.The shop is currently run by three people: sisters Norie Shimizu and Sayuri Shimizu, and the so-called “big brother” Nobuto Miyashita. Through interviews, we set out to find out how they became fascinated by custom roasting, and the beliefs they hold as they continue to preserve the shop’s unique style. Open Specialty Shop In front of Kitami Station, there is a one-kilometer-long shopping street dotted with more than 100 shops. This is where locals gather, home to a mix of large supermarkets, chain shops, and old-fashioned mom-and-pop stores. In one corner stands Beans Kitami, with its sign saying “Roastery & Coffee Bean Shop.” Beans is one of the few coffee bean specialty shops in Japan that roast coffee made-to-order. Still, the store doesn’t have the feel of an old-fashioned shop run by a stubborn owner. Once you open the retro, wooden door, you’ll see bags of green coffee crammed into rows. “There are so many beans I’d like to get and sell to our customers, and that’s why they’re overflowing. I’ve tried to restrain my urge lately,” says Norie. Coffees at Beans are...

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