Last month, my good Wife went to visit her second homeland, Japan, and brought back some great coffees for me. This was good news. I just love Japanese coffee!
Two of these blends—a generous gift from our dear friends in Nishinomiya—were made by 丸福珈琲店 (Marufuku Coffee Shop), the traditional coffee shop in Osaka. Here’s the first one of them: 昭和九年ブレンド (Shōwa Kyunen Blend).
Perhaps the name of this product requires some explanation. As you may know, Shōwa is the name for the period of Japanese history that corresponds to the reign of Emperor Shōwa, also known as Hirohito. This period started on Dec. 25, 1926 and lasted until the death of the Emperor on Jan. 7, 1989. ”Shōwa Kyunen” means the year 9 of Shōwa. In the Western calendar that year would be AD 1934.
According to the description on the can, written in very polite and beautiful Japanese, Marufuku Coffee Shop was established in that particular year in Osaka. They say (in my explanatory translation) that in their attempt to produce the traditional dark and solid cup of blended coffee, they have now blended this one to match the original taste from the year 9 of Shōwa, when they started their business.
They also tell us that this coffee is made of beans from Brazil, Colombia and ”other places”, and that it is pre-ground, medium-fine.
To me, the roast seemed pretty dark, approximately 4/5. The grind size seemed to be on the coarser side. That’s why I decided to brew this in my AeroPress (my favorite inverted method, with a steel filter). And lo, the grind size was absolutely perfect for the plastic tube coffee maker!
This blend was everything I’ve learned to appreciate in traditional Japanese coffee: It was roasted dark and had this toasted, slightly smoky flavor and aroma. At the same time the mouthfeel was medium mild and SO smooth. There was none of that roughness around the edges that you sometimes get with dark roasted blends. Man, there were no edges to this! The flavor was nutty, even bean-like. It was not particularly sweet, but not extremely dry, either.
If I had to describe this coffee with one word, it would be ”medium”—in the best sense of the word. Shōwa Kyunen Blend was a very good middle-of-the-road blend. For me, it was the perfect accompaniment to my daily breakfast pancake.
Now I know where I have to go on my next trip to Osaka!
芦田さんご一家、本当にありがとうございました！ (Ashida Family, thank you so much!)