All the way from Rotterdam, Netherlands, we’re happy to welcome Shokunin to our June’s box! We had a chat.
How did Shokunin start and what's the story behind the name?
We already had an existing brand called Stielman, which is an old Dutch word for a craftsman. But I wanted to take big steps with the company, aimed at both quality and direct trade. Doing amazing projects in origin and here in Europe alike, I felt that we needed to present these accordingly. So I decided to start an upgraded version of the brand: Shokunin. It's a Japanese word for someone who's a master of their profession and does nothing but striving for perfection. They do this to such an extent that the entire community benefits from it. This very much resembled my mindset on coffee, and seen as how it felt like an upgraded Stielman, it was a great match. People also know me as a perfectionist who is overly caring about his product.
Many of our subscribers are tasting Shokunin for the first time. How would you describe coffee roasted by Shokunin?
I want to present the unique flavours in an accessible way. My coffees are always as sweet as I can get them, but not too tea-like or sour. I want to make sure that anyone drinking my coffee finds it interesting but especially enjoyable, with nothing negative to say about it. Even though I have about sixteen different coffees right now, each with a unique flavour profile, they are all pleasant to drink. This should make it easy to choose between my coffees depending on what you feel like, and it will be a good brew every time, no matter the filter or espresso method you use.
How do you think Shokunin will evolve in the future? Have you got any set goals?
Our projects in origin are developing every week, and we're trying to communicate these to consumers in order to create a connection across the chain. Our flavour portfolio is already diverse enough, so now we want to focus on improving the quality of the producers that we already work with. I'm hoping to connect more roasters and baristas to our vision and to increase our volumes, just so that we can make a bigger impact on operations. For instance, we managed to reserve the entire Argote harvest this season, which gives us a lot more freedom to decide on processing and investments.
For those of us who's never been to Rotterdam, how's Rotterdam's coffee scene?
I feel that Rotterdam's coffee scene is actually very, very small. There's many lunchrooms and cafes that take their coffee somewhat seriously, but most still work with the same generic blend by a relatively big roaster. Which is already a lot better than any commercial brand, but there's no vibrancy or fun to it. It can be easy to find decent coffee, but there's very few cafes that actually serve multiple coffees with unique flavour profiles and that focus on coffee instead of having it as an important side product.
What can we expect from this month's coffees (El Nido, Intango and El Bueyerito)?
It's a very diverse flavour package. El Nido is an excellent example of why I love Colombian coffee. It's so diverse, sweet and with enough body, perfect for my roasting style, and this one actually tastes like an Ethiopian coffee. Intango is sort of a classic Rwandan profile, but with more sweetness and body, also fitting my flavour preferences. El Bueyerito is an interesting coffee that started as a kickstarter. I've never really liked Costa Rican coffee, but when I tasted this sample, I actually found a lot that I could appreciate. After talking to the importer, I realized that with such a good start, and with our mutual mindset about sustainability and involvement, this would not only be a tasty, easy-going coffee now, but become even better in the future. You can read more about the stories behind these coffees on my website!
We sent the following coffees in June's box
Origin: Urrao, Antioquia, Colombia
Producer: Daniel Hernandez
Process: Fully washed, 72hr dry fermentation, dried first in parabolic, then in gas drier.
Altitude: 2,000 MASL
Varieties: Caturra Chirozo
Tasting notes: Light and floral aromas like jasmin and bergamot. Bright, sweet flavours like peach and lychee. Soft body like earl grey tea.
El Nido is a rare Caturra Chirozo variety, a natural Typica-like hybrid, farmed by Daniel Hernandez in Antioquia, Colombia. The special variety gives this coffee a very Ethiopian-like flavour profile. Last year, this coffee earned the first place in the Youth Cup for young farmers, as well as a second place in Cup of Antioquia. Colombia has always been a favourite of Shokunin Coffee Collective due to its high supply in quality coffee and its diversity in flavour profiles.
Origin: Kibaya, Musasa, Gishyita, Karongi, Rwanda
Producer: Gilbert Gatali
Process: Fully washed, overnight fermentation, dried on raised beds
Altitude: 1,500 – 2,000 MASL
Varieties: Red Bourbon
Tasting notes: Bright yet thick aromas like pineapple. Juicy sweetness like strawberries. Silky body like hazelnut and black tea.
This coffee is the first one from the Rwandan entrepreneur Gilbert Gatali. He owns coffee shops in the capital Kigali and is known for his sustainability work in coffee exports from Rwanda. Gilbert recently bought a washing station where this coffee is produced. In 2012, Gilbert won the Most Notable Producer Sprudgee award.
Our tasting box members also received…
Origin: Miramar, Guanacaste, Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Producer: Roberto Jimenez
Process: Fully washed
Harvest: 2018 / 2019
Altitude: 1,100 – 1,400 MASL
Tasting notes: Bright and sweet aromas like tangerine. Sweet and soft taste like plums and brown sugar. Strong body like chocolate and nuts.
The micro-mill El Bueyerito, located in Miramar, Costa Rica, is owned by Roberto Jiménez. This coffee is a product from the crowdfunding project Planting Costa Rica. The project wanted to reinvigorate specialty coffee from Miramar. With the project, they will help Roberto to develop the infrastructure at El Bueyerito as well as improve the know how.
Get your coffee delivered to your doorstep. Become a member!