BREW LIKE A CHAMP!

ICONS: Taka Ishitani

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Takayuki “Taka” Ishitani is the reigning (and two-time) Japan National Barista Champion, and a freelance consultant and director working in the specialty coffee industry in Japan.

 

Taka has been and continues to wield a great influence in the growth of the specialty coffee scene in Japan, which is considered by many to be the benchmark for most of Asia when it comes to specialty coffee's retail industry.  While he is a famous figure within the specialty coffee scene in Japan, he is probably most influential outside of it – working as an ambassador to crossover into the world of fashion retail, most notably in his direction of the coffee bars inside New York City import Saturdays Surf NYC across Japan, as well as working closely with coffee equipment brands and suppliers to promote a deeper understanding of coffee brewing excellence to non-traditional coffee markets. 

 

When it comes to the relationship between Taka and Cupping Room, there is also another common link: barista competitions.  “My encounter with Cupping Room proved to be a turning point in my life.  I still clearly remember the excitement and sense of anticipation I felt when Kapo Chiu and Michael Yung discussed their coffee sourcing, roasting, and training plans with me, because I have an absolute trust in the Cupping Room philosophy and approach as a barista.  As a result of our collaboration, I became the Japan Barista Champion for the first time in 2017.”

We are fortunate that Taka has again won the title of Japan Barista Champion in 2019, and we will be working hard together to achieve great things at the 2020 World Barista Championships in Melbourne this coming May!

Taka’s selections this month come from Café Granja La Esperanza, a farm that we know well at Cupping Room.  Taka’s choice was to focus on lesser-known varieties instead of the typical gesha that is found across most coffee-brewing competitions now.  Through our searches together for the coffee he will use at this year’s WBC, we have come across two coffees that epitomise the “work hard and cross boundaries” philosophy of Taka’s.  Both are mutations, one occurring naturally and the other man-made, but both are solutions to improve the quality of the cup in the face of the ever-changing growing conditions around the world.

Mandela Natural

Information

  • HARVEST: 2019
  • PRODUCER: Rigoberto Herrera
  • PRODUCER: La Esperanza at Cafe Granja La Esperanza
  • REGION: Valle del Cauca
  • ORIGIN: Colombia
  • ALTITUDE: 1,800m
  • VARIETIES: Mandela
  • PROCESS: Natural
  • FLAVOURS: Pineapple rum, purple grape, sugar cane

Fermentation
Manual and rigorous picking. The picking is done in the harvesting peaks to guarantee the amount required to obtain a good batch of natural coffee. The coffee is collected in the indicated maturation. Fermentation last for 36 hours in dry tanks in a close facility to prevent high temperatures.

Drying
After the picking, the coffee is left 48 hours in the silo and then is moved to solar drying. Coffee is left in storage for 1 month to help stabilise it and reduce the astringency of freshness.

Variety
This "Mandela" variety was a the result of a collaboration between Cafe Granja La Esperanza and the Federación Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia.  They followed the below process in developing this new hybrid variety:

1. Self-pollinated (avoiding contaminations from other trees) Caturra x Caturra
2. Timor Hybrid crossing with the objective of creating a resistance to the coffee rust disease.
3. Crossed with Ethiopian stock varieties such as Sudan Rume, Daleco, Villa Sarchi.
4. Selection of the trees already developed in la Esperanza Farm, bronze tip and green tip.
 

Red Bourbon Honey

Information

  • HARVEST: 2019
  • PRODUCER: Rigoberto Herrera
  • FARM: Las Margaritas at Cafe Granja La Esperanza
  • REGION: Valle del Cauca
  • ORIGIN: Colombia
  • ALTITUDE: 1,510-1,800m
  • VARIETIES: Mandela
  • PROCESS: Natural
  • FLAVOURS: Black plum, coffee blossoms, green grape

Fermentation
The cherries are picked at the precise ripeness to guarantee an optimal level of sugar. Once the cherries are harvested and selected they are pass to especial tanks to be fermented in whole cherries for 24 and then de pulped to be fermented for 36 hours in parchment without water.

Drying
Once coffee has been de-pulped, is dried using a mix of patio and silo. Coffee is constantly and slowly spread in different drying layers to propitiate the formation of aromatic precursors.

Variety
Around the year 1715, a few plants of Arabica were introduced by the French to the island we know today as Reunion (at that time known as Ile Bourbon) in the Indian Ocean. These Typica trees mutated on the island, giving rise to the variety that became known as Bourbon, which is more productive than its ancestor. This sole characteristic made the new variety a valuable transplant throughout Brazil (where it was taken in the late 18th century) and other parts of Central and South America, including Colombia.

 

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