Welcome to the Sprudge Twenty Interviews presented by the Pacific Barista Series. For a full list of 2022 Sprudge Twenty honorees, please visit sprudge.com/twenty.
Yasuo Ishii is the founder of Leaves Coffee Roasters. I deeply admire his passion for striving for the best of everything. When he was a professional boxer at the age of 18, his career in the ring ended with him breaking his fist. Little Yasu had to work hard from morning till night to raise his children. In 2011, he opened his first Spanish restaurant. The client gave him a bag of coffee, apparently an Ethiopian Natural. His life has completely changed since then.
The concept of the shop is “From Roastery City to the World”. It means a lot to him and his team. I’d like to send this nomination to encourage him to pursue his dream of one day becoming the world champion in roasting.
Recommended by Miho Hario
Do you have a ritual for making coffee?
Yes, I do believe in rituals with a high level of savoring uniformity. It comes from definition to such little bits of movements as folding the filter paper with the same pressure, putting the brewing tools in the same place, and facing them in the same direction every time I brew.
What quality do you prefer in coffee?
Moment of feeling, “Oishii!” (“delicious” in Japanese) This is a sign of happiness.
What is your favorite coffee song?
It is very important to make myself or my client feel that the ambiance is perfect for a coffee. Not only the coffee itself but also the music, ambiance, brewing tools, grinders or table, every part of the shop design indicates satisfaction. I always choose machines, cozy, warm and comfortable. The rhythm should be like my heartbeat.
Do you have a favorite piece of clothing to make coffee in?
When I visit my wholesale client for an internship or serve as a lecturer at a seminar, I wear a polished white shirt. If my shirt stays clean without any stains and floors from start to finish, it’s proof that what I teach them is okay.
What was the last cup of coffee you enjoyed?
The flow I got in one of our wholesale clients surprised me. El Salvador’s Finca Melide Bacamara was washed. Went there to check the quality but it turned out to be a great experience! I thought I was sure fermenting it while I was roasting it myself. I was really happy with the quality of the trophy I got.
What is your idea of the happiness of coffee?
To make everyone I care about happy.
What issue in coffee do you care most about?
Our current topic is about water fermentation. Recently, we went to the southern part of Japan to find the best brewing water. There are four seasons in Japan. Since 98% of a cup of coffee is water, it causes some differences in ingredients. What is the situation in your country? Do the seasons affect the quality of the mug? Let’s know!
What is the reason or the element that drives you to coffee?
Coffee allows me to live. I simply feel the energy from it.
What’s the problem with coffee that you think has been so critically overlooked?
the value. It’s easy to misjudge a cup of coffee in a store. Apparently, the end result you can see is all made by a barista. Although roasting cannot be surpassed by roasting, and roasting cannot be surpassed by green quality. I think the most important element is the origin. Making a better quality cup of coffee is just one of our core jobs. Our next goal is to educate our customers about the value of origin.
Have you experienced a “divine moment” or life-changing moment to look at coffee early in your life?
My life-changing moment was when I opened a Spanish restaurant 12 years ago. I got a bag of coffee as a gift. Looking back now, I realize it was normal Ethiopia but I had no idea what it was back then. That gift piece was glitter. Honestly, I don’t remember who it was, but I still remember the sweetness and fruity vividly.
If you could get any job in the coffee industry, what would it be and why?
R&D mechanical engineer because I love coffee gadgets! Design of brewing tools, development of mills, and customization of blades in them. Well… I’m already doing it!
Who are your coffee heroes?
Kenji Kojima from Vogelin Japan. He is definitely the one who encouraged me at work. He showed me the coffee culture of Oslo, Portland and Paris a few years ago. I learned a lot from him.
Where do you see yourself in 2042?
Cherish the present moment because I believe your daily efforts lead to powerful results. I won’t tell you what I want to be, but I can totally say I’ll have a white beard, wear a panama hat, and roast coffee.
Sprudge Twenty Interviews Presented by Pacific Barista Series. For a full list of 2022 Sprudge Twenty honorees, please visit sprudge.com/twenty.