FOREIGN BARISTAS IN TOKYO. VOLUME 4 of 4 KAI PETERSON of GLITCH & KITSUNE

FOREIGN BARISTAS IN TOKYO. VOLUME 4 of 4 KAI PETERSON of GLITCH & KITSUNE

Release Date: Sep 2, 2017

  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself, what you do, and the road leading up to working at Glitch and Cafe Kitsune.

I’m a 27 years old Barista and Japanese-economics student from Dusseldorf, Germany.
After spending one year at a Japanese High School in 2006 I’ve come back to Japan as an exchange student at Sophia University in September 2016. I didn’t just want to study but also work in order to improve my Japanese language skills and to get in touch with local people. Having some experience as a barista, this was the first thing that came to my mind.
Searching for an interesting place to work I came across Cafe Kitsune. After commencing my employment there as a barista, I became totally immersed into the world of coffee and got to know cafes and baristas around Tokyo. I wanted to learn more about the complex flavors of coffee and the art of roasting coffee in order to use this knowledge to improve my own skills as a barista. Which is why I began working at Glitch 3 months ago.

  1. How would you describe the coffee industry in Japan to someone who’s never been?

Even though Japan is better known for its teas, it has a fast growing and evolving coffee culture.
Even though good cafes have been around for only a few years, you find them in most parts of the city. Each one of them having a unique interior design and their own interesting ways of preparing coffee. The industry is full of young, energetic and passionate people who support each other and try to come up with new ideas of how to introduce good coffee not only to Japan but throughout the whole world.
To me the Japanese coffee industry is a very refined and high quality oriented industry.

  1. What’s it been like working in a cafe in Tokyo compared to back home? What type of things are you personally focusing on over here when you work?

To be honest it is very difficult for me to compare the coffee industries of Germany and Japan. Simply because I have not been involved in the German coffee industry that much. There are definitely way more specialty coffee shops in Japan and the whole process of hand brewing coffee is also far more prevalent in Japan.
Experiencing the latte art world championship in Tokyo this year, I can say that Japan’s latte art is on a very high level.However, Germany might be leading in terms of preparing a good single espresso.

  1. What do you think is the coffee industry’s biggest strength and biggest problem at the current time in Japan.

I believe that the unity of Japanese baristas and the collective desire to make Japanese Coffee more renowned is one of their biggest strengths.
However, I believe it has led to a strong mono culture in Japan’s coffee industry.
Whether we talk about raw materials or equipment the same brand names are always used. A lot of the knowledge baristas in Japan have cultivated seems to be coming from same sources. Which means in my eyes, this limits the individuality and possible growth as a barista.

  1. Can you give us some insight in regards to Japanese baristas/staff. Tell us about their attributes and their style of work.

Japan, being a very service orientated country sets the bar for custom services very high. I would say they are second to non.
I also believe that the Japanese personality is very well suited for becoming a barista.
Japanese people have an eye for detail. They enjoy measuring and calibrating things. They are very precise, enjoy good taste and always strive to become better and refining their skills.

  1. How do you enjoy Tokyo when you’re not pulling shots?

When I’m not pulling shots I’m probably pouring cups.
On my days off however, I enjoy spending time with my friends cooking or going out for a good meal. I also like to go out by myself and discover new places and cafes in and around Tokyo.

  1. For those who are coming over to Japan, please curate the perfect day in Tokyo!

Obviously you can visit some of Tokyo’s tourist places which you can read about in any guidebook but in my opinion discovering Tokyo by yourself is the most exciting way of getting to know this city.
I would leave my train ticket at home, (who would want to be stuck in Japan’s subways).
For me wandering through the streets of Tokyo and discovering Japan’s daily life and new places is the most exciting part about visiting this country.
Start off by finding a good coffee shop in your area, because every good day starts with a coffee. While having your first cup search online for interesting districts and cafes to visit around Tokyo .
During your stroll try using cafes for your breaks because the baristas are normally locals who have a good knowledge of the area and can recommend the right places to see and visit.
My favorite areas in Tokyo are Daikanyama, Nakameguro, Shimokitazawa and Kichijoji.
In the evenings I would avoid places like Shibuya or Roppongi and rather enjoy a night in one of Tokyo’s Yokochos. They maintain a charm you can only find in Japan. Food is good, cheap and you will probably end up sitting at a counter right between Japanese locals.

 

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Interview by Vaughan (@vja)
Photography by Nik van der Giesen (@nvdg81)

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