Tsujimoto coffee Tomohisa Tsujimoto

Tsujimoto coffee

Tomohisa Tsujimoto

Creating a wonderful time with coffee. Lofty ideal of a fifth-generation director.

Tsujimoto Coffee offers a wide variety of coffees from specialty coffees to decaffeinated and coffee drip bags to provide each customer a wonderful experience and ‘a wonderful time.’ Tsujimoto Coffee Co. (hereafter Tsujimoto Coffee) has dealt with Japanese tea as its main business since it was founded in 1899, and Tsujimoto Coffee has been selling coffee drip bags produced at their factory and sold online since 2005. The company opened its coffee store with a roasting facility in 2016. We interviewed Mr. Tomohisa Tsujimoto the director who started roasting its coffee in-house.

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What can coffee do for you?

Tsujimoto states, “What Tsujimoto Coffee wants to deliver is not coffee as a commodity but rather deliver a wonderful experience and ‘a wonderful time’ that begins through coffee.” If you visit Tsujimoto Coffee’s website, you will know what it means.”

Tsujimoto Coffee online sells not only coffee, but also gift sets, sweets, and tools related to coffee. The section where visitors read on the website introduces us not only to products and events but also trivia about coffee. ‘The pan jikan (the bread time)’ is a special feature in the section on the website, which collaborates with bakeries that suggests specialty coffees that go well with croissants, Japanese custard buns, etc. The website is filled with wonderful content that can direct you to have a wonderful time.

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Another unique feature of Tsujimoto Coffee is expressing the perspectives of its original brand from receiving the order to packing for the online store orders like wrapping papers and even the leaflets that are included in the package.

Tsujimoto the president of the company states, “For example, if you go to a café, the liquid poured into the cup is not all the things about coffee that makes the coffee taste good. I believe that everything that exists in this space, from the exterior and interior of the store to the way the staff treat customers and brew the coffee all contribute to the taste of the coffee.”

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The Great East Japan Earthquake that occurred in March 2011 was a turning point for Tsujimoto’s coffee life.

It was about a month later that he received a reply from one of his customers, who had been out of touch since the earthquake. He said, “I lost my house, friends, household goods, and everything else, but I could keep my sanity because I had the coffees from Tsujimoto Coffee.”

Tsujimoto states, “I realized that the purpose of the coffee business is not only to provide fresh and delicious coffee but also to provide the coffee that has the power to calm, soothe, and bolster people and change people’s moods.”

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Delivering the value beyond its price.

Tsujimoto Coffee initially started the coffee business because he needed to make a living and continue the family business.

When Tsujimoto joined his family’s company called Ocha no Tsujimine-en at the age of 23 in the early 2000s, which mainly sold Japanese tea leaves, the future of the company looked bleak. With the diversification of tastes and the penetration of plastic bottled beverages, the consumption of Japanese tea or tea leaves was decreasing year by year. As a result, the sales of gifts and novelties, which had been the mainstay of the business was declining.

To recover sales in some way, Tsujimoto took advantage of his experience as a salesperson at a major housing manufacturer and made door-to-door sales visits to private homes. However, he was met with an unexpected setback.

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Tsujimoto states, “To tell you the truth, I couldn’t make a sale at all. I realized at the time that the trust in the brand and a sense of security felt by consumers greatly influenced consumers’ buying behavior.”

“A house is a purchase for hundreds of millions of Japanese yen but if you say, “I’m Tsujimoto from a well-known company A,” people will listen to you first. Tea, on the other hand, is a purchase of several thousand yen, but people don’t even listen to you. I felt that it was natural for people to feel uneasy when a tea shop owner who doesn’t even know your name suddenly appears at your doorstep.”

Tsujimoto made a drastic move. He decided to establish his factory in 2003 thinking that he needed to expand into other businesses to keep the family business alive; began to focus on the coffee business.

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The company initially started as a production company an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) that sells coffee drip bags to wholesalers and major retailers for the masses. It was in 2005 that the company opened ‘TSUJIMOTO coffee’ on Rakuten Market (online store) to sell its original brand products directly to end-users.

In addition to coffee drip bags, the online store offers a wide range of products from fifty types of coffee such as Geisha, which is considered to be the best variety of specialty coffee, to decaffeinated coffee, coffee equipment, and gifts. What has not changed is the company’s attitude of seeking values beyond coffee as a beverage.

Since the opening of the online store, he told employees involved in packaging the products, “If you spend 1,000 yen, it is natural to provide the product that is 1,000 yen worth of the value, but let’s think about what we can do to provide more than 1,001 yen worth of the value.”

“Because of the nature of online shopping, it is difficult to build relationships with customers directly than the actual stores because we can’t see each other face to face, we thought we needed to make corporate efforts to deepen our ties with customers.”

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He opened a physical store with a roasting facility to expand his business in 2016 and they have been selling the beans they purchased but also the beans they roast in-house and the coffee drip bags produced in their factory.

Tsujimoto states, “When we were working as an OEM in the industry, which had been our main business up to that point, the transaction was completed when we made coffee drip bags and delivered them to customers but the process of roasting and brewing coffee beans was also enjoyable which is the secret to bring out its flavor fullness.”

That’s why the physical store is ‘a laboratory to tell customers how to enjoy the coffee.’ This is to create an environment where the staff can work feeling proud of what they do.

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Aiming for a high ideal.

Tsujimoto aims to try to build a close relationship with customers through coffee that has been inherited from his days as a salesperson for selling newly-built houses specifically built for clients.

Tsujimoto states, “Considering the amount of money and the time spent to build a single house, I thought the process of building a house together with the family by listening to their concerns and dreams for the future was essential.”

“Perhaps, because I watched my parents selling teas 365 days a year since I was young and my parents sold the products anytime whenever the customers want to purchase them by leaving the store open when customers came in, the spirit of “customer comes first” came naturally to me.”

That’s why such a background had maybe influenced him to sell the house. Tsujimoto secured a contract and completed a house about two months after joining the company.

“Even though I just graduated from a university at the time with no experience, the customer had listened to me and even treated me to lunch sometimes. I was grateful that he had entrusted me with designing his house when he had other options, and I felt I wanted to build a good house for him and made his dream come true.” However, Tsujimoto resigned from the company right after the completion of his customer’s house.

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Tsujiomto says, “I thought it would be disrespectful to both the company and the customers if I continued to work at the company knowing that I would quit after three years. I was in the business of building houses, which included after-sales care for the customers to solve any problems when the customers started to live in.”

“I am just talking about the ideal but I also didn’t like the idea of working until 2 a.m. and then being taken out for drinks by my seniors at work. But if there was something I wanted to do, I thought it would be better to take on the challenge as soon as possible, even though it would be an exaggeration to say this, but even that means I was risking my life.”

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Tsujimoto’s ‘high talks’ comes to his mind because his ideal is high. Tsujimoto also tells employees who pack the products, “You can’t see the face of the customers, but if you always pack the products as if you were sending them to a dear friend, you can convey something.”

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“I’m the type of person who aims for ‘the top-notch,’ and if I’m going to do something, I want to aim for the highest level. I’m very particular about everything I do, which makes it difficult for the people around me. My character has become the culture and the direction of the company, and I am grateful I can work with colleagues that share them.”

“I want to make the company a place where each of us can have pride in our work and I want people who have been involved in the company to say, “I’m glad I work with Tsujimoto.”

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“I want to make the company a place where each of us can have pride in our work and I want people who have been involved in the company to say, “I’m glad I work with Tsujimoto.”

What is Tsujimoto aiming for with his colleagues?

“We want our customers to enjoy the coffee as we find it delicious. Also, we want to discover a different and interesting world and the value of coffee that has not yet been fully communicated to the people. To achieve this, I would like to improve our roasting technology, the quality of our service, and continue to remain a company that can deliver great coffee.”

As ‘the producer’ of the shop and ‘the director’ of the shop, Tsujimoto will probably continue to create a stage where each person plays a leading role using coffee as a means.

The text was originally written in Japanese by Tatsuya Nakamichi

MY FAVORITE COFFEE

I like to drink a cup of coffee in the morning on my day-off when I don’t have a full schedule ahead. The coffee I drink makes me feel relaxed and free. I grind beans in a COMANDANTE grinder and brew them using Brewista’s ratio scale. It is an essential custom to start the day, for all 365 days.

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