Over 30 Years of Roasting And Serving Coffee
I recently had the opportunity to visit Amami-o-shima ( otherwise known as Amami Island) in Kagoshima prefecture.
Little did I know what was waiting for me.
In the main city of Naze, I was walking through one, and probably the only, shopping district. The locals call it the ‘arcade’. That’s when I came across a small sign post.
After reading the letters 自家焙煎 which means ‘home-roasted’, I just had to visit this place. Never did I expect to actually find a roaster cafe in a tiny island.
The amazing thing is that this place has been well-established for over three decades.
The Passing Down Of Knowledge and Hard Work
The owner/roaster/barista Nagata-san had never always been roasting coffee. She started off as a barista while the master went about roasting coffee.
Unfortunately, the master passed away nine years ago and Nagata-san was left with a big decision on what to do with the cafe.
She decided to try roasting herself, and if it didn’t work out she would quit in a year.
You can guess what happened…..
It all worked out. She told me that she had some amount of knowledge on roasting since the master never stopped talking about it. The master also left some notes on roasting which turned out to be invaluable for Nagata-san.
Perhaps she may not have been able to directly learn from the master, but she still had some guidance even after his death. It’s quite amazing to hear her story and I’m really glad she’s continued the cafe.
Serving Coffee is Just the Tip of the Iceberg
Nagata-san told me that the most difficult aspect about running a roaster cafe is the roasting. She said that she even gets nervous as dusk approaches because that’s when she gets ready to roast another batch of coffee. She also jokingly said that she gets irritated when customers stay a little past the closing time since her focus shifts to roasting. I’m glad I was talking to her in the morning, haha.
Nagata-san imports her beans from dealers she’s been regularly doing business with for many years. She purchases them in hemp sacks, and then divides them into baskets. She then shakes the baskets to get rid of dirt and tiny insects.
Since the island is situated in the sub-tropical climate, there’s a lot of humidity and moisture. This makes it rather difficult to preserve the raw coffee beans. That’s why Nagata-san keeps all of the raw beans in a glass case with an air-conditioner maintaining the temperature throughout the year.
Before she roasts the beans, she hand-picks them to get rid of the bad beans. She also does this after roasting, and so you get coffee which has a lot of clarity; it’s much easier to understand the true flavour and character of the coffee when the clarity is there.
When in Amami, Go to Coffee Aladdin
The coffee is wonderful.
Very clear, sweet, bitter (but not that over-burnt kind, the more caramely,chocolaty bitter) and with a good amount of body.
That’s how I felt after trying her Aladdin Blend, and Mocha.
A very ideal place for coffee lovers with an affinity for darker-roasts.
Nagata-san also serves home-made cheese cakes( and also light snacks) as a set with her coffee so you won’t go hungry.
Whether you’re a local or just visiting, I would recommend you visit Coffee Aladdin and have some very good coffee.
Address: 1-8 Nazesuehirochō, Amami-shi, Kagoshima-ken 894-0027, Japan
Open Hours: 9am ~ 7pm (only closed on special occasions )
Recommendations: Aladdin Blend, Mocha, Home Made Cheese Cake
What I want to try next time: Kenya Masai, Mandheling, Soft Blend