Last month, we held TYPICA’s first ever annual conference “TYPICA Annual Meeting” in the city of Ise, central Japan, and Tokyo. The overarching theme of the event, which ran for five days from October 10 to 14, was “SDGS: Sustainable Development Generation Shapers.” Around 80 people took part, including coffee producers, roasters, and other key industry figures, flying in from 22 countries and territories. The participants deepened their understanding of coffee through dialogue with a joint mission to improve sustainability of delicious coffee. The gathering featured various programs, each aimed at shining the spotlight on the work of producers and roasters. The participants also paid an official visit to Ise Jingu shrine and then attended SCAJ 2022, the largest specialty coffee festival in Asia. The conference highlighted the breadth and depth of a coffee community TYPICA has cultivated since our foundation.
When we say “conference,” however, it doesn’t mean that it only consisted of one-way lectures and speeches. On the contrary, there was an array of programs that encouraged active learning. What that means is that through dialogue, participants shared their knowledge, experience, and above all, their passion with each other. This was especially meaningful after years of separation and isolation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Our hope was to deepen human-to-human connection by bringing back face-to-face communication. In some programs, participants took the podium as a presenter. And in others, they were the audience, the ones who asked questions and shared comments.
Day 1 kicked off with an introduction to Japan’s spirituality and tradition. In a keynote speech, Eiji Hattori, former advisor to the UNESCO Secretary-General, gave an illuminating talk on the essence of sustainability that continues to live within Ise Jingu. After a break, the audience paid an official visit to the 2,000-year-old shrine. For some of the participants, this was their first time to travel by air, and their first time to get a passport. Regardless of where we are from or what culture we belong to, our souls found a profound sense of tranquility in this sacred site.
Day 2 took place in Tokyo. 18 coffee producers gave presentations during the Producer Award, explaining what coffee means to them. For some, it represents happiness. For others, it is the heart of their life. Some presenters took the opportunity to introduce their culture, singing and dancing, clad in their culture’s traditional attire. Others shared their passion for coffee and their vision for the future. At the end of the show, the audience was asked to cast their vote to pick their favorite producer based on the presentations and cuppings. Out of more than 100 submissions, Ethiopia’s Wete Ambela Coffee won the most votes.
Day 3 was held at Tokyo Big Sight, the venue of SCAJ 2022. The largest coffee trade show in Asia attracted about 200 businesses in Japan and abroad. TYPICA hosted various programs at its own booth. These include talk shows between roasters and TYPICA chief representative Masashi Goto. Guest roasters and Goto watched Meet the Roasters videos together, a monthly video series portraying the lives of roasters. Elsewhere on the day’s program were cupping sessions co-hosted by producers and roasters. There was also another talk session by a group of Japanese roasters who traveled to Bolivia in September. They spoke about their experiences during the first leg of the TYPICA Lab project, which invites roasters to visit coffee origins and deepen their understanding of coffee.
Day 4 saw the Final Round of TYPICA GUIDE, a guide service to introduce truly delicious coffee. Seven 2-Star Roasters representing their region gave a presentation and brewing session. The top prize, 3-Star Roaster, went to Tokyo-based Raw Sugar Roast. Yuya Kosakada, who represented the roastery at the event, described coffee producers as comrades in a revolution that challenges the status-quo of coffee politics. He said that human-to-human connection adds the finishing touches to coffee. After the award ceremony, Kosakada joined a talk session at the TYPICA booth. He said that he has a responsibility as a storyteller. He added that he wants to elevate coffee culture by spreading and amplifying the voices of coffee producers.
A panel of judges for the TYPICA GUIDE Final Round consisted of Tomoko Namba, founder and executive chairperson of DeNA, Shuzo Kishida, owner chef of Quintessence, the winner of Michelin three stars for 15 straight years, KREVA, a leading hip hop artist, Chizuru Muko, executive editor and director of sustainability at fashion trade journal WWDJAPAN, Michal Molcan, founder and editor-in-chief of independent specialty coffee magazine Standart, Peter Muchiri, founder of Rockbern Coffee Group in Kenya, Nadine Rasch, founder and director of Primavera Coffee in Guatemala, Fikri Raihan Hakim of Java Frinsa Estate in Indonesia, and Ayane Yamada, a co-founder of TYPICA. To encourage all the coffee lovers to join the process, the event was live-streamed online. About 700 people from 28 countries took part in the nominations, including those who cast their ballots during preliminary online voting.
On the fifth and final day of TYPICA Annual Meeting, Atsushi Yukutake of Standart joined his long-time friend Goto in a talk session, which shed light on the behind-the-scenes work of editing. The five-day conference wrapped up with a cupping session hosted by producers from Bolivia, which sent the largest delegation to this conference. Small-holder farmers from Nayra Qata took turns sharing production tips and their aspiration for the future. During the cupping, the audience savored 33 kinds of coffee.
Some coffee producers arrived in Japan earlier than the main portion of TYPICA Annual Meeting. They visited roasteries in western and northeastern Japan, witnessing firsthand how their coffee was being served to end consumers.
Throughout the five days, coffee producers not only connected with roasters, but deepened interaction with fellow producers. One of them recounted the event as dream-like, and another said he wants to tell his family how much impact a single coffee bean can make.
We’d like to express our heartfelt thanks to everyone who joined and supported TYPICA Annual Meeting.