An interview with roaster Yudai Hashimoto the bridge connecting Aomori with the world

A small coffee shop with only seven seats located in the shopping arcade of Aomori City. In this town lined with traditional coffee shops, COFFEEMAN good is a roastery that serves specialty coffee under the concept of "a community stand that connects people through coffee."

The barista and roaster is Yudai Hashimoto , originally from Aomori Prefecture. After working as a barista in Tokyo and Yokohama, he returned to Aomori with his wife Yuri. Many fans visit the cafe in search of coffee that is approachable and easy to drink, even for people in Aomori who are not yet familiar with specialty coffee.

An encounter brought about by coffee

Mr. Hashimoto , who is from Manabu Prefecture, came to Tokyo to study at a Manabu , Manabu the International Manabu of Japanese Language and Culture, obtained a teaching license for social studies, and then started working at Manabu School as a new graduate. The Ethiopian Natural from Cafe Obscura, which was located in Sangenjaya, Tokyo at the time and was particular about its home-roasted and siphon-style coffee, helped him to heal his body and mind, which was tired from his unfamiliar work and hard work.

"I came across this shop by chance, and the taste of the coffee was completely different from what I had been drinking up until then. It was the first time that I thought coffee was delicious. When I lived in Aomori, my aunt would often buy Kilimanjaro or Blue Mountain beans and I would blend them myself, but sugar and milk were essential."

Hashimoto became addicted to coffee after experiencing specialty coffee, which was still rare at the time. Since his work at Manabu School was mostly at night, he visited more than 200 cafes around Tokyo.

"I bought up all the coffee magazines and went to cafes during the day and on weekends, learning about coffee and the differences between them. I found Ethiopia coffee in one store and tried it, and even though it was the same beans, it tasted completely different from Obscura. When I asked why, I was told that it was because of the difference in the selection method between washed and natural coffee."

Enter a specialty store and take part in competitions

Hashimoto wanted to work in a job that involved coffee, so in 2014 he moved to CAFE LEXCEL, a new business concept that had just been launched by Doutor Coffee.

"It was a specialty coffee shop, and at the time, it was unusual to offer a choice of brewing methods: French press, hand drip, or espresso. I started working there as a part-time barista."

After honing his brewing skills there, Hashimoto -san entered the Japan Brewers Cup (JBrC), a brewing competition he had been interested in for some time. He made it through the preliminary rounds, placed 7th, and was promoted to a full-time position due to his achievements.

His passion for coffee never stopped, and he actively participated in competitions such as the Barista Championship and Aeropress. He improved his knowledge and skills in coffee. He made it to the finals of the Japan AeroPress Championship and won second place. He continues to take on challenges today.

A unique coffee stand I stopped by on my way home

During his third year as a barista, when he returned home with a bottle of Panama Esmeralda Geisha for a competition, he stopped by a coffee stand in the shopping district in front of the station. This was " COFFEEMAN good ," which Hashimoto would later run himself.

"I thought it didn't seem like a place that would fit in a shopping arcade, so I stopped by, but I told him that I'm also a barista and talked about the difficulties that come with running a cafe. I gave him Geisha as a souvenir, and we talked about how to brew coffee and what it tastes like."

The next day, when he returned to Yokohama, the owner of " COFFEEMAN good " came to meet Hashimoto . He invited him to work for him.

"To be honest, at the time I still had no intention of returning to my hometown. However, I had a desire to save up some money and one day have my own store, and I was inspired by the owner's passion, so I decided to return."

Roasting beans from around the world

He moved to Aomori with his wife Yuri and started working as a barista at " COFFEEMAN good ". At first, they purchased roasted beans from "COFFEE FACTORY" in Ibaraki Prefecture and did not roast the beans themselves.

"The coffee was very delicious, but since I was running my own shop, I wanted to make my own coffee, including roasting it. Because of the cost involved in running a small coffee stand, I decided to switch to in-house roasting."

At first, he used a Hama Coffee 1kg roaster. It was a simple direct-fire type that didn't allow for detailed control or profile recording, but this actually helped Hashimoto to hone his roasting techniques.

"There were other coffee shops in the same shopping district, and many locals preferred dark roasts, so specialty coffee wasn't very popular. That's why I started trying out beans from different countries and roasting them to different degrees to find the coffee that tasted best."

They also traveled to Bolivia and Peru in South America, where they tried various types of coffee, including Geisha , Bourbon , Caturra , and Catuai, and began to focus on these varieties.

By roasting the coffee myself, I learned things I had never noticed before: the different terroirs of each farm, even in the same producing country, and the efforts and ingenuity of the producers.

"From my experience visiting over 200 cafes, I knew that you can get good coffee anywhere. So I wanted to sell coffee from producers I like. Roasting my own coffee has made that possible."

The new taste of " COFFEEMAN good " realized in Giessen

Starting in 2024, they changed their roasting machine to a Giessen W15A. They say that they can now roast more the way they want, something that had previously been a struggle through trial and error.

"Up until then, roasting machines were really simple, but the clean cup part was quite difficult. But with Giessen, we can do more in every aspect, such as adjusting the profile, roasting time, and exhaust. If coffee up until now has had a familiar taste, I think coffee now has a more refined taste."

Make new encounters at CROWD ROASTER

At " COFFEEMAN good ," Mr. and Mrs. Hashimoto place great importance on communication between people at the storefront. Thanks to their friendly and helpful attitude, the store has become a popular community stand, just as the concept suggests. "I feel something similar at CROWD ROASTER ," says Mr. Hashimoto .

"Looking at the app, I see that there are a lot of people who make requests and comments to roasters. I usually get a lot of people who send me DMs on Instagram and mention me, but I haven't had much opportunity to communicate with them in writing. I'd be really happy if I could respond directly to them through CROWD ROASTER ."

What I hope for from CROWD ROASTER is that I can taste the difference that comes from each roaster.

"It's really appealing to be able to enjoy coffee roasted by different roasters using the same beans. Even if the degree of roasting is the same, it should be completely different. It's great that users can make requests. I'd love to try a comparison."

There's more than one way to enjoy coffee

Now with over 10 years of experience as a barista, Hashimoto says his goals have changed since he first decided to become a barista.

"When I started working as a barista at CAFE LEXCEL, I wanted more people to know about and spread the word about light to medium-dark roasted specialty coffee. But now that I'm also roasting at COFFEEMAN good , I don't want to force my customers' tastes on others. I want to roast the coffee that my customers want to drink, and brew coffee that I think is delicious. In other words, coffee that I can relate to."

Currently, COFFEEMAN good sells coffee made from over a dozen types of beans roasted to various degrees, from light to dark. At the store, he values ​​the conversations he has with each customer, something he wasn't able to do when he was aiming to become a barista.

"Even back then, when I was simply taking orders and brewing the coffee, I wanted to listen more to customers' preferences and provide them with the coffee they wanted.

Coffee is an opportunity to communicate. Because we are a small coffee stand with only seven seats, we are able to carefully provide coffee that suits the tastes of our customers."

COFFEEMAN good a husband and wife team that continues to serve heartfelt specialty coffee every day.
In March 2024, they won the TYPICA GUIDE and have become a roaster that is attracting attention from all over the country.

However, the coffee produced by Mr. and Mrs. Hashimoto continues to be the same as before, so please come and try it at CROWD ROASTER .

Shop Information
1-17-1 Furukawa, Aomori City, Aomori Prefecture, 1F
OPEN: 11:00-18:00 (Monday, Thursday-Sunday, public holidays)
CLOSE : Tuesday and Wednesday