October Marks The Year
It’s been a year since Toru Nishioka, the owner,roaster and barista, opened Neutral Coffee in the quiet streets of Fujisaki Fukuoka city.
Back in 2015 of October, he put all of his savings on opening a roaster cafe. The dream to roast coffee beans his way and provide amazing coffee to his customers turned into reality.
He’s been placing a simple black sign board with the characters ニュートラルコーヒー Neutral Coffee since day one. Some passers-by didn’t so much as take a glance while others stopped by to take a closer look at first. The cafe has been open almost everyday and the board has stood firm and still. It’s been a really tough first year for Toru with many ups and downs.
But now people are talking. And Neutral Coffee is slowly getting recognised for its amazing coffee and peaceful vibes. This really is just the beginning for Toru and Neutral Coffee.
A Great Cup for Everyone
They say that you can’t please every customer. Well, perhaps that saying doesn’t apply at Neutral Coffee. Because Toru believes that he can and will always have a great cup of coffee for his customers. He wants to please everyone, and that shows daily in his vision and attitude when running the cafe and tending to his customers.
You’ll find a table with samples of coffee right by the entrance. From left to right, there’s a variety to choose from. The coffee samples are labelled with their origins and placed in accordance with their roast degrees. Together with single origins, you’ll also find core blends as well as seasonal blends like the Autumn blend.
Not everyone likes dark roast coffee, and the opposite applies. And so Toru makes the effort to find the perfect coffee for every roast. He’s carried this vision ever since he opened his cafe, and so he’s had to adjust and get accustomed to every roast level which is never an easy task. A lot of time and dedication with a constant repeat of failure and correction. He’s gone through a lot and still may.
Toru also includes coffee from the same origin but with two different roasts at times so you get the chance to palate two different dimensions of the coffee. This is always a delight because it’s rather rare to find places serving the same coffee but with different roasts.
Concrete, High Ceilings, Angled Lights
The interior at Neutal Coffee is rather simple. Nothing too exquisite or grandiose. In fact, it’s all very plain and yet it doesn’t seem boring at all. There’s something about the concrete, high ceilings and angled lights which create a space that is most comforting.
Toru says that the concept name “Neutral” is the state one reaches when they escape the hectic and stressful everyday life. He wants to provide the best coffee for his customers and prolong their “Neutral” state before they go back to their busy lives.
The space inside is very much detached from the outside world. It’s sort of a shelter; a relaxing space of some sort. Customers come here to chill, read books or carry a conversation with friends as well as Toru himself.
I guess it’s only when you’re leaving that you start to realise how much you’ll miss the space and yearn for it once you’re back in the daily grind.
The Art Of Roasting
Toru has a 5 Kg Fuji Royal Roaster inside the cafe. It’s a power house; sort of the Toyota of roasters. He’s been using it now for about a year. His roasting has improved. Lots. Time really does polish and refine one’s skill.
The roasting process is said to be one of the most decisive factors when bringing out the potential flavours of coffee. The farming, pulping, drying, transporting and extracting processes of course cannot be overlooked. But one thing that roasters take pride in is being able to bring forth every bit of potentially wonderful flavour the coffee has. It’s also a responsibility that they carry on their shoulders every moment the coffee enters the roaster.
Roasting is a delicate communication with the roaster machine. A slight hiccup and what was going to be something absolutely amazing could turn out just okay. And okay doesn’t cut it when the quality of coffee served in Japan is above average together with the increasingly demanding customers possessing a very refined palette.
The roaster is like a musical instrument. The more you associate with it, the better you get to understand it and have it suit to your needs. The road may be long for Toru, but it’s only a matter of time before roasting becomes second nature and he can easily roast to the way he wants to.
When In Doubt, Go Neutral
Whether you’re looking for a place to chill, chat with your friends or stare into space, Neutral Coffee is the place to be.
With amazing coffee from various parts of the world, you can enjoy the different varieties together with some desserts and immerse yourself in the comforting space.
When in Fukuoka, take a short trip to Fujisaki and have a comforting time at Neutral Coffee.
Address: 103 2-1-1 Fujisaki Sawara Ward Fukuoka City Fukuoka Prefecture
Open Hours: 12:00 ~ 22:00 (closed on Tuesdays)
What to try the first time: Neutral Blend + Vanilla Cookies