Reasons for holding a coffee festival in Yokohama [Ask Mr. Momosaki, representative of YOKOHAMA COFFEE FESTIVAL]

"YOKOHAMA COFFEE FESTIVAL 2023," which will bring together approximately 40 popular coffee shops from all over Japan, mainly in Yokohama, at Yokohama Hammerhead, will be held from Friday, November 24th to Sunday, November 26th.

The YOKOHAMA COFFEE FESTIVAL, which aims to foster Yokohama's coffee culture and connect people through coffee, has been gaining in popularity every year, and this year will be the first time that the festival will be held alone. The festival will also be expanded to three days.
CROWD ROASTER will also be participating in this event as an official partner.

We interviewed Momosaki Yu, the representative who has been involved with the event since its inception, about the background to holding the festival in Yokohama and his enthusiasm for the third event.

<Interviewer: Hiroto Usukura , CROWD ROASTER >

I was surprised that there is no coffee festival in Yokohama.

Usukura : First of all, please tell us what inspired you to start YOKOHAMA COFFEE FESTIVAL.

Momosaki: When I was still a student Manabu , I started going to the Starbucks near my house because I really liked the cafe atmosphere, not the coffee. There they had a pressing service where you could get your favorite coffee brewed, and that's when I started to think that coffee was interesting.

One of the reasons I fell in love with coffee shops is the depth of coffee that comes from each region. I always thought it was just bitter, but I didn't realize that the taste was so different depending on the region.

Another thing that really attracted me was the people. I became familiar with the faces and had casual conversations with them, and it made me happy to have a coffee shop in my daily life. This made me want to work in a job that involved customer service like that.
I've always loved talking to people, so I was interested in customer service work, but for example, in a restaurant, the chef and the wait staff are separate. In a coffee shop, you can ask about your preferences, make the coffee, and serve it all in one place.

Since then, as I have been to many cafes, I have come across many small coffee shops in my hometown of Yokohama, and when I would pop in to various places and ask things like "What is this?" or "What is washed coffee?" they would tell me.
I feel comfortable having these kinds of small interactions in my daily life. I wanted more people to know about these kinds of people. There are many people around me who think that coffee is just bitter, so I wanted to hold an event where I could convey this to them.

Also, I wondered why there is no coffee festival in Yokohama even though there is one in Tokyo. It's a shame that so many people don't know about such delicious coffee. It's a port city, so it's actually said to be the birthplace of coffee, and I was also surprised that Yokohama's consumption is not that high despite being the number one importer of green beans in the country.

Usukura : So you wanted to raise awareness of coffee shops in Yokohama and promote them. How did you go about preparing for the event from there?

Usukura : When the first event was held, I was still Manabu student at L'Ecole Bantan, a vocational Manabu school.A classmate of mine was working at WOODBERRY COFFEE at the time and had a connection with the owner, Musashi .

When a classmate of mine told Musashi about the idea of ​​such an event, he said he would support us, which made me really happy, and we thought, "If WOODBERRY is performing, it looks like we can have a great festival!" and that's how it all started.

We had absolutely no know-how about events, so we just kept researching and doing what was in front of us, and somehow we managed to hold the first event.

Usukura : We really started from nothing and researched each piece one by one!

Momosaki: At first, we weren't sure how many people we could attract, so we thought it would be ideal to hold it in conjunction with another event, and so we held it together with a music event called "Hotch Potch Music Festival," which was held together with the first and second events.

It's an event similar to a community music festival run by an NPO, and I spoke to a mutual acquaintance who introduced me to the event. I brought in a proposal and the location for the first event was decided, and then I reached out to coffee shops and made the stall guidelines while referring to other coffee festivals... That's how I always do it from scratch.

Usukura : Did you have no experience in event management up until that point?

Momosaki: I've never had such a large-scale event, but I've been involved with an NPO for urban development for a long time. The person who connected me with the venue for the coffee festival was someone I met through an NPO, and I was able to hold the event with the help of many people, but I had no know-how at all.

However, in terms of initiative, when I was working for an NPO I participated in activities aimed at resolving local issues, and in those activities I unknowingly had the opportunity to speak with people and give presentations, which I feel is connected to the present day.

I want to create a place where people can connect with each other.

Usukura : You said you were involved in town development activities, so did you always have a sense of local pride?

Momosaki: Yokohama is a beautiful and wonderful city, so I thought it would be nice to contribute to the community through my own initiative. It may also be that my favorite thing happened to be coffee.

Usukura : In terms of urban development, I think coffee shops are places that serve as nuclei of interaction within a town. If new places like that can be created through the festival, it will likely have a positive impact on the town.

Momosaki: That's the kind of event I want to aim for. There are a lot of people living in Yokohama, so if we have the opportunity to spread the word, they'll know about it, and I hope we can contribute to making Yokohama a coffee town someday.

This is my third year here and I am still exploring my future career goals, but I feel that increasing awareness of specialty coffee in Yokohama will be beneficial for my future when I open my own shop.

Also, people in Yokohama and Tokyo live in the same area, meaning they spend their money in Yokohama and Tokyo. Tokyo people in particular don't often have the chance to come to Yokohama, so holding events is a good opportunity for them to learn about Yokohama.

The festival often has stalls from all over, not just Yokohama, so I think it would be great if people could come to Yokohama through our coffee shop, and also if it could give people in Yokohama an opportunity to travel to other places.

Usukura : Have you actually heard such comments in previous events?

Momosaki: When I looked at Instagram after the event, I saw that people from Yokohama had visited a coffee shop in Tokyo that they had discovered for the first time at the coffee festival, and a coffee shop in Fukuoka said that they had seen an increase in orders from people in Yokohama on their online shop. It's great for us as the organizers to see that this is not just about setting up a shop, but also about continuing to connect after the event.

Recently, my shop and other shops have the same business hours, so I have not been able to visit them often, and I have had fewer opportunities to connect with coffee shops and people in the industry. Of course, our coffee festival is about connecting customers with shops, but since so many shops are set up on the same day, I also hope that it will be an opportunity for shops to connect with each other.

Since this event is being held independently, we would also like to plan a networking event for exhibitors, with the two main keywords being fostering culture and connecting people.

"Coffee all the way" since high school

Usukura : Listening to you talk, I can really sense your love for coffee. What kind of coffee do you like, Momosaki-san?

Momosaki: I originally started liking specialty coffees through Ethiopian coffee. I thought coffee was bitter, so this completely changed that perception.

My impression of Ethiopian coffee has changed recently, but in the past, it was very berry-flavored. I think it's often hard to understand the comments about the taste at first, but the first Ethiopian coffee I tried was exactly as described, with a berry flavor and a very sweet taste, and I learned that it was delicious even without adding sugar. From there, I started drinking light roasts and came to like them, so Ethiopian coffee is a coffee that brings back fond memories.

Usukura : I heard you are also good at espresso drinks.

Momosaki: When I first worked at Excelsior Cafe, I handled a Black Eagle and thought espresso machines were cool.

Usukura : Being cool is an important motivation.

Momosaki: And then latte art. I was obsessed with it for a while because I thought it was amazing to be able to create beautiful art in an instant and make the customer happy.

After that, I moved to a brand called Cafe Rexel, which mainly deals with specialty coffee, within the Dotour Coffee brand, and there were three Mythos machines there, so I could always choose three types of single coffee. When I compared the different flavors, I found it fascinating how even a slight adjustment can change the flavor, and I thought espresso was fascinating.

Usukura : Was that when you were in high school?

Momosaki: I started working at Excelsior Cafe when I was a second-year high school student, and transferred to Cafe Rexel when I was a third-year student. At that time, Rexel had many famous people, and even now some of them are coffee shop owners or active in various fields, so it wasn't the kind of brand that would hire high school students. I also had the opportunity to try hand-dripping, so it was a good environment where I could get a feel for everything.

I was interested in the great customer service and what kind of training they provided, so I worked at Starbucks for about two years and then started working at a coffee stand run by a venture company at the same time.

Although the coffee stand does not roast the beans themselves, they use WOODBERRY beans, so I was able to experience specialty coffee. During my time as a student Manabu , I was able to learn about both how to run a chain store and the fact that a small coffee stand has to make everything themselves, so it was a great experience.

After that, I got a job at a venture company and had the opportunity to experience working as a store manager and setting up a store. However, there weren't that many types of coffee, and the things I could experience were limited, so I wanted to work at a store that roasted its own coffee. I wanted to face specialty coffee from scratch and absorb it again, so I joined THE COFFEESHOP , and I've been there ever since.

Usukura : You've had a variety of experiences, but it seems like you've been "dedicated to coffee" since high school.

Momosaki: It's not a good idea, but during class I would pretend to be attending and actually study varieties and read books about coffee (laughs).

I've always thought that there's a big difference between the amount of passion I have for things I'm not interested in and the things I'm interested in, but coffee is something I'm addicted to, and even when I'm studying it, it's not a chore and I find it really fun. I've always worked with that mindset, so I think it suits me.

First independent event and aspirations to expand the scale

Usukura : It has been held twice so far, and I heard that many customers came to the event last year, which was the first time in three years after the COVID-19 pandemic. Is there anything you would like to do this year?

Momosaki: Since the first event was the first one, it was reasonably crowded and everyone enjoyed themselves, so I was happy that the event I created could somehow connect with many people's coffee experiences and I definitely want to continue it.

Last year, many people who were looking forward to the event came to visit. However, because it was a short event from 11:00 to 17:00, there were long lines and people were unable to use up all their coffee tickets, and we had to stop selling tickets on the day early, and various irregularities occurred. Of course, there were customers who were happy, but we also received voices of criticism.

Even if people come just because they're interested in coffee, if there's a long line at the venue, they're not going to stand in line for hours.

We wanted to reach out to a casual demographic, but having to queue up to drink coffee didn't really fit our concept, so taking into account what we learned from last year, we decided to beef up the event this year by holding it over three days so that people of all kinds could enjoy coffee.

Usukura : I think expectations for this year are even greater.

Momosaki: Every year I feel like I'm being crushed by the pressure right up until the last minute. We get a lot of different people involved, and some coffee shops even close their doors to come, so if we end up not being able to attract many customers, it could be a nuisance for a lot of people, so I do feel a lot of responsibility.

Usukura : But the fact that so many people came means that there are a lot of people who are interested in coffee, and it's an aspect that wouldn't have been visible if there hadn't been a festival.

Momosaki: We would be very happy if we could create a coffee routine where people like that don't just drink instant coffee, but also grind the beans and brew them at home, and we think we could contribute to fostering a culture.

While events like the Tokyo Coffee Festival are aimed at coffee lovers, our main target is the casual coffee drinker, as coffee is not currently consumed very much in Yokohama.

Usukura : I hope that coffee lovers in Yokohama will be able to expand their options to include more particular shops and specialty coffees.
This time, you will be running the stage together with us, so what are your expectations from CROWD ROASTER ?

Momosaki: CROWD ROASTER has a network with many different coffee shops, so if we were to create an event together in the future, it would be fun to plan something that makes use of CROWD ROASTER 's strengths...for example, it would be interesting to have each roaster roast the same beans for the event and enjoy the differences between them.

I haven't been to the farm yet, so I think there is only so much I can tell you about the origin of the coffee. If we can work together on that as well, I think it will be easier to spread the word about specialty coffee and the From Seed to Cup initiative.

I would be very happy if you could push past the limitations that we would face on our own and create an event together with us.

Usukura : Thank you very much. I hope we can do something together in the future, not just this year. So, please tell us if you have any goals for the future of the festival.

Momosaki: First of all, my goal is to hold the coffee festival once a year. I think it's important to continue an event, so I'd like to spread the word that the Yokohama Coffee Festival is held at this time every year, and increase the number of fans who look forward to it.

We would also like to think about setting up a structure that can disseminate information, not just hold events, and as there are many wonderful owners who set up stalls at the coffee festival, it would be interesting to focus on people and communicate with them.

I love people, so I like to ask them how they started a coffee shop or how they became interested in coffee, and I think that people of my generation or those who just started working in coffee would probably be more interested in hearing about those personal stories.

I think that sharing these things might encourage young people to start drinking coffee, and sharing our thoughts about roasting can make each cup of coffee taste even better. I want to be able to share these things throughout the year, not just at festivals but outside of festivals as well.

Usukura : Finally, please tell us your enthusiasm for this year's event.

Momosaki: Since this is the first time we're holding the event alone, we'll have more than double the number of exhibitors than usual, and there will be some really fantastic coffee shops participating.

We hope that we can contribute to making our visitors' daily coffee more delicious and powerful by encouraging them to talk and find great coffee shops, rather than just drinking coffee, so we will do our best to plan the event.

Usukura : We at CROWD ROASTER will be setting up a booth and running the stage for all three days, so we're really looking forward to it! Please come to YOKOHAMA COFFEE FESTIVAL 2023!

YOKOHAMA COFFEE FESTIVAL 2023 Event Outline <br />Dates: Friday, November 24, 2023 - Sunday, November 26, 2023
open time:
Friday, November 24th 14:00-21:00 (last entry 20:30)
Saturday, November 25th 11:00-19:30 (last entry 19:00)
Sunday, November 26th 10:00-18:00 (last entry 17:30)
Location: Yokohama Hammerhead 1F CIQ Hall (2-14-1 Shinko, Naka-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture)
Admission fee: ¥500 per day
"Admission & Tasting Ticket (4 cups) Set" is on sale now! Buying in advance is a good deal.

[Organizer] YOKOHAMA COFFEE FESTIVAL Executive Committee [Support] Yokohama Hammerhead / Yokohama Media Ad Co., Ltd. / Mind Ltd. / Certified NPO Arcship [Supporter] Yokohama Kan Hikaru Convention Bureau / Minato Mirai 21 General Incorporated Association / Yokohama Keizai Shimbun [Official Partner]