Direct Trade Brings People Closer Together: Borderless World Tangible at SCAJ
Day 3 of TYPICA Annual Meeting took place at Tokyo Big Sight on October 12. TYPICA welcomed coffee lovers from across Japan and beyond to its booth at SCAJ 2022, the largest specialty coffee festival in Asia. During talk sessions with roasters, TYPICA played Meet the Roasters Videos, a video series that puts the spotlight on roasters. After the videos were played, TYPICA had dialogue with the featured roasters themselves. Other sessions include cupping events hosted by coffee producers from abroad, as well as the introduction of the TYPICA Origin Team. Throughout the day, visitors witnessed from different angles where TYPICA stands now, as the company strives to build a community of all those involved in coffee.
This year’s SCAJ marks its 17th. About 200 businesses in Japan and abroad are taking part. Around 30,000 visitors are expected in the three days through October 14. The white-themed TYPICA booth has a towering back wall and a table in the middle. It is designed in a way that allows visitors to sit in a semi-circle around speakers.
During talk sessions, Yasuo Ishii of Tokyo-based LEAVES COFFEE ROASTERS, Yoshiyuki Nakamura of Okinawa-based Mameporepore, and Takaaki Mori of Fukuoka-based COFFEE COUNTY were invited as guest speakers. Videos featuring them were released in succession starting August. TYPICA plans to release one new video on the final Friday of each month. To create an immersive experience, the TYPICA staff handed out headsets to the audiences, who watched the videos that portray roasters’ journey in the world of coffee.
There was also a brewing session hosted by a leading Taiwanese roaster, Yuta Chu, a former film-industry worker turned coffee roaster who operates Oasis Coffee Roaster in Taipei. He demonstrated how to brew coffee, using beans from Rockbern Coffee in Kenya. Recounting the start of his relationship with TYPICA, Yuta said that initially, he saw TYPICA just as a useful online platform. But he added that he gradually became more attracted to its transparency about the producers behind coffee. He noted this clarity gives him the relief of knowing the person with whom he is working.
A cupping session featuring Colombian coffee was hosted by Ronald de Hommel of Coffee Quest Colombia and Diego Samuel Bermúdez of El Paraiso. They played a clip showing the inside of processing facilities and explained just how much ingenuity goes into coffee processing. After the talk, roasters were invited to cup 13 types of coffee. After the cupping, one of them said it was as shocking as a lightning strike. Another pointed out unparalleled fruitiness. Ronald said he’d put together a well-balanced lineup of traditional flavors and futuristic ones. He mentioned that Japan has a culture of respecting tradition. He said that he hopes people in Japan will be more open to classic Colombian coffee, in addition to the special processing methods currently popular in Japan.
Another session introduced TYPICA’s Origin Team, based in the Netherlands. The session highlighted what goes on behind the scenes before coffees end up on TYPICA’s platform. Each member uses their own area of expertise and connections as they travel all across the world. They are all responsible for all corners of the globe when it comes to approaching new coffee origins. Asked what he cherishes most when he does his job, Andrews Ernest Droes, originally from South Africa, said that it’s important to try to turn your attention to a coffee that nobody knows yet. But he added that at the end of the day, human-to-human communication matters most. Samuel Perez, a member of the quality control team who examines sample beans that arrive at the office on a near-daily basis, said that he draws a line and shuts out all the information about the producers when he scrutinizes the taste. He stressed that he is careful not to let his emotion sway his decision.
Elsewhere on the day’s program was a talk session by three Japanese roasters. They visited Bolivia as part of TYPICA Lab, a project that takes roasters to coffee origins around the world. They said that they were able to deepen their understanding of coffee and strengthen relationships with producers through visits to coffee farms. Among the audiences were the producers themselves who hosted the roasters with warm hospitality in Bolivia.
TYPICA also intermittently played a promotional video of the “It’s a New Wave” campaign. The video started airing as a TV commercial in all of Japan from October 12. The cast in the video are not actors, but actual Bolivian coffee producers and their families. I wonder what was going through their mind as they watched the video starring themselves in a country that’s halfway around the world from theirs.
Originally written in Japanese by Takuya Takemoto
Photos by Kenichi Aikawa