SOL’S COFFEE operates three specialty coffee shops in Tokyo’s low-lying shitamachi districts, including Kuramae and Asakusa-bashi, and a research and development base called LABORATORY in the town of Wakasa, Fukui Prefecture. Its representative Rieko Arai founded SOL’S COFFEE with her friend in 2009, when she was 22 years old. Sho Nakajima, then Arai’s yet-to-be husband, joined as store manager in 2017. In our interview, the couple shared SOL’S COFFEE’s philosophy – nurtured and established over time – and their dream arising from it. Introducing people to coffee A stroll along the street from Asakusa-bashi Station to Kuramae takes you past office buildings and retro shops. Cast a glance across a large intersection into an alley, and you will find SOL’S COFFEE ROASTERY, its unassuming storefront perfectly blending in with the streetscape. As I step in through the door, the aromas of coffee and freshly baked scone waft into my nostrils at once. At the back of the store sits a roaster, and staff briskly move around in the kitchen. The bustle of activity is punctuated by light music, running through a playlist assembled by Nakajima, who moonlights as a musician. Customers, rather than nestling into the comfort of their seats for a leisurely break, swing by for a brief moment of peace. Though Arai now drinks many cups of coffee every day, she had never had a delicious cup until just before she opened SOL’S COFFEE. But by a strange quirk of fate, her life and coffee had intersected more than once. When Arai was 14, she visited her cousin in hospital in Australia after the cousin was injured in a traffic accident. Arai had...

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