Deeply Rooted in Ethiopian Culture
~ Ethiopia meets Hakata ~
Hakata is known as the business district of Fukuoka, where people in suits rush up and down escalators going about their business. This place goes pretty berserk in the early mornings and evenings – rush hour.
But even in such a fast-paced and busy district lies a quiet retreat; one that can give you a most refreshing experience.
Take a short trip down south of Hakata station to the neighbourhood of Hakataeki Minami and you’ll find Masukaru Coffee.
This cafe is run by Miyazaki Ryoko, who roasts and serves coffee based mostly around Ethiopia.
Miyazaki-san, originally a line cook, took part in a non-profit program called Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and was deployed to Ethiopia where she gained exposure to the local coffee culture.
After coming back to Fukuoka, she worked at a renowned roaster cafe known as Cafe Bimi for three years before opening her Ethiopian-themed roaster cafe in Hakata.
~ wood, bricks and straw ~
The cafe takes space right below a housing estate of a quiet neighbourhood.
On the other side of the small, shabby-looking entrance, you’ll find a world of wonder. A world of African vibes.
The long wooden counter, the brick-laden floor and the menus made out of straw will take you miles away from Japan.
You’ll also find wooden tools and coffee ceremony tools which were brought all the way from Ethiopia.
Coffee is said to have originated in Ethiopia, and what’s quite amazing is that Miyazaki-san never had coffee in mind when she was deployed to Ethiopia. Now, after gaining exposure to coffee in Ethiopia, as well as working at a renowned roaster cafe for three years, coffee is part of her life.
And she’s brought some Ethiopian flare.
Flannel Dripped Coffee
~ when one masters the flannel, the coffee turns into liquid gold ~
Flannel is a soft kind of fabric. It’s been around for quite a while in Japan and some say that the paper drip was made to imitate the flannel.
The coffee with the flannel produces a smoother, cream-like texture and also gives off some of the most amazing fragrance depending on the roast and quality of the beans.
A lot of time and care goes into making one cup of coffee.
Miyazaki-san takes the hassle by first picking out the defect beans before grinding them. She then puts the ground beans into the flannel before pouring the hot water.
The pouring is done in steps.
First you have the steeping process. Just a little water to soak the grinds, allowing them to release some CO2 gas and create a passage where the water can flow through.
Then comes the pouring stage; every one has their own way of doing this. But however it’s done, the spectacle is just amazing.
The flannel drip has been on the decline among the newer, more modern cafes because of the alleged burden in maintaining the cloth. But there are still many passionate enthusiasts out there who just can’t resist using the flannel drip. Kind of like the dude who smokes cigars when everyone’s moving over to e-cigs.
Delicious Blend and Muffins
The coffee menu is very simple at Masukaru Coffee.
You have Single-origin Coffee from the Yirgacheffe region and Harrar region.
Then there’s coffee from Brazil, and coffee from Mandheling. There’s also a blend specially made for ice coffee.
Finally, you have the Masukaru Blend which is based around the Coffee from Harrar.
Miyazaki-san uses a small 1Kg roaster to roast her coffee (you can see it inside the cafe), and she’s on the long journey to mastering the roasts; but she’s always bettering and improving her roasting skills, providing coffee which pleases your palate.
But of course, it’s not just about the great coffee.
Her muffins are absolutely amazing. Generously filled with apples, carrots and currants, cashew nuts and coconut shavings, the muffins showcase the natural sweetness of the ingredients.
She also makes home-made cheesecakes and chocolate cakes, although I still haven’t had the chance to try them out because of her irresistible muffins.
Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony
Miyazaki-san holds the Ethiopian coffee ceremony on the 11th of every month. This is because Enkutatash, or the first day of the new year of the Ethiopian calendar falls on 11 September and she decided to use the 11th day as an opportunity to share a very common routine she experienced back in Ethiopia.
Yes, the coffee ceremony.
The coffee ceremony is quite simply a social gathering with coffee as the communication tool. It’s not as ritualistic or dramatic as it sounds. It’s pretty much like having a tea break with friends and neighbours, only that the coffee replaces the tea . The coffee ceremony is also used to welcome guests and make them feel at home. A culture embedded in the lifestyle of Ethiopia.
I had the wonderful opportunity to experience the coffee ceremony. The whole experience took me aback. Why?
Because nowadays we focus too much on the science of coffee, the methods and ways used to roast and extract coffee; too much on the details and the nitty-gritty stuff. We take coffee too seriously as if it were a complex laboratory experiment.
The ceremony made me realise that in the end, coffee is coffee, and that it becomes much more when aggregated with the enjoyable and delightful social connections it brings together.
When you visit Fukuoka, take a short trip to Masukaru Coffee for an amazing experience. From Hakata Station, you can use the bus (to Sanno Park) or just take a jovial 15-minute walk.
One thing for sure, you’ll be staying much longer than expected so take a book with you and let your worries and burdens be washed away with the peaceful and serene atmosphere at Masukaru Coffee.
Address: 4-16-14 Hakataekiminami, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka 812-0016, Fukuoka Prefecture
Open Hours: 08:00 ~ 18:00 (closed on Sundays and Mondays, and on the 11th)
Coffee Ceremony: If you are going to be around till the 11th of any month, let Miyazaki-san know so she can reserve a seat for you
What you should try the first time: Masukaru Blend + The Muffin
What I plan to try the next time: Yirgacheffe + Home-made Cheesecake