Tana Cafe + Coffee Roaster: From A Regular Cafe Owner to A Buyer Crossing Borders
Tana Cafe started off as a regular roaster cafe in the countryside of Fukuoka in Itoshima. Through serendipitous circumstances, the owner Hiroyuki Tanaka had the opportunity to join a team of roasters who traveled directly to coffee producing countries in search of amazing coffee. Now, he roasts and provides some very delicious specialty coffee directly traded from countries like El Salvador and Nicaragua.
The Turning Point
Tanaka-san started out just as any other roaster cafe at first. Some cafe owners visited his place carrying with them stories about their adventures through various coffee producing countries while discovering and then buying delicious coffee.
The stories prompted Tanaka-san to find out more about their direct trading. He eventually had the opportunity to join their buyers’ group. Little did he know that everything was about to change for him and his career.
(Direct trading is no easy task for the average coffee roaster/roaster cafe. And that’s because direct trading requires one to buy large quantities of coffee, together with building trust with farmers and assuring the prospect of future business opportunities; this means a lot of time, cost and effort. And that’s why such practices usually require coffee roasters to group up and share directly traded coffee. This system is on the increase now).
Discovering Coffee Once Again
Tanaka-san remembers his first expedition; from jotting down everything there was to know about coffee farming together with understanding the farming terminologies used by the locals. He was surprised by the lack of knowledge when it came to farming and everything he had heard and learned there was fresh and valuable. After several expeditions, he got used to talking coffee at the farms and is now much more acquainted with coffee farming.
Tanaka-san shares his knowledge with customers; the shade trees used to protect coffee plants, the right time for coffee picking, the health of the plants as well as the processing/pulping that goes on later. It’s quite amazing to hear from someone who’s actually been there and seen it in the flesh. The way he’s able to reminisce and talk about the tales of his time in countries like El Salvador and Nicaragua is just awe inspiring.
Valuable and Rich Stories to Communicate with Customers
Tanaka-san’s biggest strength is his ability to communicate his experiences, his stories to his customers. The fact that he’s actually seen the process of coffee farming, he knows the emotions, sweat and work that goes into the coffee he buys. I guess he’s also able to roast better visualizing his time at the farms and using it as his guide.
I love the way he communicates his journey, as well as the coffee to his customers. The picture above shows the coffee bags with the ‘Direct Trade’ stickers. You’ll also see a picture of the farm/farmer to give you an idea of where the coffee is coming from and who is growing the coffee.Finally you have the description of the sort of fragrances, flavors and body you’ll be likely to palate.
It’s very rare to see a presentation this dedicated to communicating the story of the coffee beans and it felt very refreshing and warming.
Delicious Coffee and Espresso
At Tana Cafe, there’s a counter lined up with many taste bottles. You get a small paper cup, open up one of the bottles labelled with the coffee farm and the processing method. The nice thing is you get to taste and compare the many different selections of coffee before choosing one.
Coffee is served through the French Press or a Clever Drip. They are both very ideal to enjoy single origin beans and the unique/distinct coffee flavors and fragrances.
You can also choose a selection of muffin to go with your coffee. Try the lemon muffins or the espresso brownies; they are amazing. The muffins are light and soft, they don’t overpower the coffee and it really makes for a wonderful pairing.
The espresso is also amazing, and the espresso drinks produced with it is magical.
Because the beans boast quality and personality, they mix with the steamed milk to form a very delicious beverage without the milk overpowering the coffee. Sensational.
This is probably one of the only places, apart from the cafe latte I had at Saredo Coffee, where I’ve actually been stunned with the espresso drink because it tasted quite amazing.
Tana Cafe + Roaster Cafe
If you have the chance to visit Fukuoka, take a thirty-minute train ride to Chikuzen Maebaru station in Itoshima. It’ll be a short walk before you find Tana Cafe. The place is joined with a local crafts shop and has a warm vibe with the wood and soft lights. Have some great coffee and delicious muffins for an afternoon chill session.
They’ve also recently opened a coffee beans shop called COFFEE UNIDOS where they sell coffee beans and instruments. I’ll leave all the important details down below.
Address: 3-9-1 Chuo Maebaru Itoshima City, Fukuoka Prefecture (Tana Cafe + Coffee Roaster)
2-14-17, Urashi, Itoshima City, Fukuoka Prefecture (COFFEE UNIDOS)
Open Hours: Tana Cafe+ Coffee Roaster 11:00~19:00 (closed on Tuesdays)
COFFEE UNIDOS 10:00~18:00 (closed on Sundays)