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Brewing Wonders: A Journey into Alchemist Coffee with Eisuke Kawahara

We were thrilled to have the opportunity to chat with Eisuke Kawahara, the owner of Alchemist Specialty Coffee Roasters, whose beans also grace the cups at Skye Niseko's Café Deli.

Discover more about this local coffee roaster as he takes us through the journey of his rapidly growing establishment, captivating coffee enthusiasts since its establishment in 2019.

Read our interview below to learn about the unique experience offered by Alchemist, including their innovative 'free consultation' service, where freshly brewed coffee tastings intertwine with discussions about your daily life, all expertly facilitated by Eisuke Kawahara and his delightful staff.

At Alchemist, it's not just about purchasing your preferred coffee; it's about forging meaningful connections with our customers to deliver coffee experiences that are truly memorable.

Alchemist Coffee

Can you tell us about the origins of Alchemist Coffee and what inspired its founding?

In my twenties, I managed hotels in Whistler, Niseko, and Tomamu, enjoying the industry but yearning for the cosy atmosphere of coffee shops.

Despite my desire to open one, it wasn't until my thirties, spurred by my wife's encouragement, that I found the courage to pursue my dream.

While working at another job, I taught myself how to roast coffee at home, created my own website, read as many books as I could to study business management, and after three and a half years of preparation, our coffee shop finally opened its doors in November 2019

Where and when did your passion for coffee originate?

If I'm going to work anyway, I want to be the catalyst that makes someone feel good. I wanted to do a job that would spread that good feeling and spread it throughout the region and the world.

Discovering the unique blend of relaxation and vitality that coffee offers, I felt compelled to share this experience with others. This journey from coffee lover to shop owner ignited a deep passion for the craft within me.

Could you provide some context or details about your unique theme "Coffee that Blows Your Mind"?

We chose the theme in hopes of kick-starting a good mood.

What sets Alchemist Coffee apart from other local coffee roasters in terms of sourcing beans and the roasting process?

We would like to source beans directly from farms, but due to container size constraints, we acquire green beans in small quantities from around the world through trusted buyers.

Alchemist coffee is renowned for its pristine aftertaste and exquisite flavour and a clean roasting environment is a major factor in producing clean and gorgeous coffee. We take pride in maintaining Japan's cleanest roasting environment, ensuring not only rigorous roasting research but also meticulous cleaning of our roasting machines.

How do you ensure the quality and consistency of your coffee beans from sourcing to roasting to packaging?

Quality and safety are paramount for us. In order to achieve consistent operations, we have a checklist in place for each process, and furthermore, we have a system in place to double-check that the checklist has been implemented correctly.

How would you best describe the flavour profiles of some of your signature blends?

We offer 12 different brands, but because every brand has its own great character, just like wine, we actually do not have blends in our store, but only single origin (single variety) coffees.

How do you stay updated with the latest trends and innovations in the coffee industry, and how does this influence your offerings?

As store owners, rather than pursuing trends, we focus on how to enjoy coffee in daily lives. We thoroughly think about 'how we can make our customers happy when they visit our store,' so rather than chasing after trends, we are chasing after the smiles of our customers on a daily basis.

In what ways do you engage with your local community, and how important is community involvement to Alchemist Coffee?

We have been delivering coffee to people all over Japan as a return gift for their hometown tax payment with the city of Sapporo. Additionally, we provided coffee to the official press room during last year's G7 meeting.

However, what truly resonated with me when considering the concept of "community" was the children from Okurayama Elementary School near our store. They pass by our shop daily on their way to and from school, often waving hello. While we don't expect them to become coffee shop owners, we aim to demonstrate to them the joy of adults working happily every day while doing what they love.

How did the concept of 'free coffee counseling' with your customers come about?

When I was buying coffee beans as a customer, the only way to choose coffee beans was to 'trust what the clerk said'. We don't want you as a customer to make a mistake in your important bean selection and we are confident in the taste of our coffee. For these two reasons, we decided to start a coffee counseling service that allows customers to taste freshly brewed coffee for free and find the perfect bean for them.

*Please note, this service is only available at the Miyanomori Alchemist Coffee Shop.

With the rise of specialty coffee culture, how does Alchemist Coffee cater to the discerning tastes of coffee enthusiasts?

We prioritise quality coffee, which is common among professional roasters. In today's digital age, customers can easily access excellent coffee all over Japan. Despite being located in Sapporo, we are competing with top Tokyo stores online.

Our goal is to provide an experience that delights all customers, not just not just the most discerning coffee lovers. In terms of customer experience, we approach our coffee shop with a hospitality mindset akin to a hotel business like Skye Niseko!

Aside from Alchemist Coffee, which coffee brands do you draw inspiration from?

KOFFEE MAMEYA KAKERU in Kiyosumi-Shirakawa. They have a coffee-only course menu just like a French restaurant, and I think it is a genius store that has elevated the drink itself, coffee, to the next level.

Another company I have great respect for is Starbucks, which provides excellent customer service throughout Japan and around the world. That quality of service on that scale is astounding!

Looking towards the future, what are some of the goals and aspirations for Alchemist Coffee in terms of growth and impact in the industry?

Our goal has been and will continue to be 'to please the customers in front of us now'. There is no other way.

We can dream big and do big things as much as we want, but I think it would be great if we could continue to do the small things we can do now with great love so that we can take care of the important things.

We asked our Skye Café Deli team, and they also can't get enough of Alchemist!

What are common responses you get from guests after tasting their coffee purchase?

  • We are often told by guests that the coffee we serve is the best they have had since coming to Japan. It has earned us more than a few return customers.
  • Guests often tell us how delicious the coffee is and ask us where we get our beans from.
  • After tasting the coffee, most people comment that is delicious, and some even ask where the beans are from.

What is the most popular coffee type ordered this season?

  • Most popular would have to be Latte, however recently Long Black has been catching on.
  • Definitely Latte would be the most popular.
  • Latte would be the type of coffee I have made the most.

How would you describe Alchemist Coffee in 5 words or less?

  • Bold and deep flavoured.
  • Yummy!
  • Loved by everyone.

We extend our heartfelt thanks to Mr. Kawahara for sharing his story with us. Make sure you experience the exquisite taste of Alchemist coffee for yourself next time you stop by at Skye Café Deli!

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