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Sumiyaki Coffee - Charcoal Roasted Coffee Tradition hidden in Japan for decades

Sumiyaki Coffee - Charcoal Roasted Coffee Tradition hidden in Japan for decades

Having a good cup of coffee makes our work become leisure time. In Europe (the largest consumer of coffee according to 2021 data), people often hang out in cafes and restaurants to enjoy coffee and get the most out of their breakfast or snack time.

We can now try other coffee drinks from other parts of the world and learn how different they roast their coffee. Have you heard of Sumiyaki Coffee from Japan? Sumiyaki coffee is quite unique in its roasting method; let me first talk about coffee roasting in general and dive into Sumiyaki Coffee.

How Coffee roasting works

Roasting puts the flavor in the coffee. When we go to cafes or buy our coffee, we often see what kind of coffee beans are used and the packaging. However, regarding the roasting techniques, we usually don't read or know how these coffee beans were roasted. The taste of coffee is more delicious and unique when the roasting process is carefully done and not by using so-so techniques that may result in coffee beans being over or undercooked.

Standard methods of coffee roasting

In general, there are two different standard methods of roasting coffee beans. The first is called hot air roasting, and it is like a blow dryer that gives out hot air to dry and roast the beans. This method will tend to result in too light-roasted coffee beans. The second method is direct fire roasting, which uses fire from a gas burner. This method can be compared to grilling meat on a barbecue. Direct fire roasting tends to result in darker roasts, giving the resulting coffee a more pungent taste.

After roasting, the cooling or resting process is applied immediately so the quality and aroma of the coffee beans will not deteriorate. Most coffee drinks are roasted using the two methods mentioned. Still, there is another premium coffee drink where the coffee beans can be cooked from inside the core to the outside for long-lasting good taste and aroma, and that is the Sumiyaki Coffee.

The roasting method used for Sumiyaki Coffee and why this coffee is rare to find

Sumiyaki is the Japanese method of grilling food, especially meats. Sumiyaki means "charcoal-heated" or "charcoal-grilled.” Sumiyaki coffee is a combination of coffee and charcoal-heated method that releases a distinctive aroma through a halogen heater to create a vacuum through the filter to remove the boiled water through the ground coffee. 

In short terms, Sumiyaki is a method of roasting coffee beans using charcoal at very high temperatures. While this method is used in Japan (hence Sumiyaki), Sumiyaki coffee is catching on in North America and soon in Europe.

Sumiyaki coffee is one of the world's rarest coffees. Unfortunately, it is also rare to find it in Japan because of the level of expertise needed to roast coffee. Sumiyaki is a unique form of cooking in which the roaster must learn how to manage the fire so that the heat is evenly distributed throughout the beans while maintaining a specific temperature throughout the entire process. For this reason, Sumiyaki coffee roasting requires years of experience and skill.

Here are videos of what the Sumiyaki roasters look like:

 

Many coffee shops use a charcoal grill to roast their Sumiyaki coffee beans but end up using gas burners for the final roasting. Some even sprinkle charcoal powder just to hide the cheating. Since roasting coffee beans requires thorough heat adjustments, this is hard to do in charcoal roasting. Also, since charcoals' expenses versus available roasting machines and preparation time for heat production are higher than those with other roasting methods, it should be noted that this method would have different flavors in different types of Sumiyaki coffee.

SapporoCoffeeKan.mp4 from Kei Nishida on Vimeo.

The beans are roasted until they turn charcoal-colored. The roasting can be a light, medium, or dark roast. This roasting method gives the coffee a slight bitterness in taste since charcoal can affect the flavor of the coffee itself, as well as its appearance. The characteristic of coffee beans is that they are fluffy and evenly cooked from the center of the beans due to the effect of far-infrared rays generated by a charcoal fire. 

Charcoal roasting coffee beans removes excess water hidden in them to remove moisture that makes the coffee acidic, slowing down their rate of deterioration. When coffee beans are released from the roaster, they undergo oxidation due to the surrounding air. The good thing about charcoal roasting is that when charcoal is burnt, it gives off a large amount of Carbon monoxide. This Carbon monoxide delays the oxidation process and, as a result, prolongs the shelf life of roasted coffee beans. 

Unlike many other methods of roasting coffee beans, Sumiyaki creates unique flavors that we wouldn't get otherwise since the coffee beans were being cooked from the center instead from the beans’ outer surface. 

Special charcoal in Sumiyaki

The charcoals used in the Sumiyaki coffee roasting method are not just any charcoal. Instead, it creates intense heat and burns cleanly, leaving no odor or smoke. As a result, Binchotan helps cook food at a lower temperature than other types of charcoal, meaning the coffee beans can be roasted fully from the inside out.

Special charcoal in Sumiyaki

Image: Binchotan Charcoal

This charcoal is perfect for roasting coffee. It creates a stronger fire than gas burners and does not produce steam, so the beans are essentially baked. However, the carbon quality is hard and difficult to ignite, so it must be controlled at about 500 degrees by coffee roasting experts who fan them with a fan. While this charcoal costs more than others, it has twice to three times longer burning time than other charcoals.

The coffee result will be syrupy, smoky, and not burnt or too bitter coffee goodness.

What is so special about Sumiyaki Coffee

It's full-bodied and rich in flavor; roasted until it's almost blackened, Sumiyaki coffee. Some coffee drinkers would find that mixing milk with Sumiyaki coffee gives the drink an exquisite blend of taste. This coffee is slightly bitter compared to other coffee due to the use of charcoal and the beans being roasted. Moreover, it has a smokey aroma and taste that will keep you coming back to drink this coffee again.

It is well known that coffee beans are excellent odor absorbers. The coffee beans absorb the burnt charcoal's smell, which gives the smoky aroma of the Sumiyaki coffee. The charcoal-grilled coffee also does not contain much water, as in the case of gas-produced heat-roasted coffee beans.

Charcoal Roaster


Image: Heat source vault of Charcoal Roaster

Sapporo Coffee Kan 

Regarding authentic Sumiyaki specialty coffee, Hokkaido is the best spot where humidity and temperature are low; it is the perfect environment to roast and brew coffee. Soil, climate, and coffee plant quality are carefully examined to ensure that the best Sumiyaki coffee is still exceptional. With the original charcoal straight roasting method, Sapporo Coffee Kan is Hokkaido’s pioneer in coffee charcoal roasting. Sapporo Coffee Kan’s passion for finding unique coffee beans and partnerships with ethical coffee farms worldwide resulted in coffee farms exclusively providing coffee beans that meet Sapporo Coffee Kan's required quality. To bring joy and specialty coffee goodness to as many people as possible, Sapporo Coffee Kan offers a vast selection of world-class quality coffee. Sapporo Coffee Kan was named number one in a list of "5 best cafes with a constant flow of customers", which was ranked by the public listeners of a local radio program.

Outside Sapporo Coffee Kan


Image: Outside Sapporo Coffee Kan, next to historical clock tower in Sapporo

How about a Decaf Sumiyaki Coffee 

Sapporo Coffee Kan was one of the first to introduce German technologies in decaf coffee. They have been crafting and selling premium decaffeinated coffee since 2009. They buy coffee beans from Germany that have been decaffeinated using a rare, unique German process. Every year, the state-of-the-art facilities at CR3 can process 15,000 tons of coffee. CR3 is a company with roots in the coffee industry, dating back over 80 years. They offer caffeine extraction and raw coffee bean refinement services to businesses in the coffee industry.

Sapporo Coffee Kan’s Decaf Coffee


Image: National Newspaper article featuring about Sapporo Coffee Kan’s Decaf Coffee

The process of making raw coffee beans is a bit more involved than the process of making roasted coffee beans. First, raw coffee beans must be cleaned through a more refined cleaning process before they are ready for the caffeine extraction stage. Steam increases the moisture content of the raw beans, which makes them expand as a result. These expanded beans are soaked in liquid dicarboxylic acid at atmospheric pressure of 65 – 70 bar, at a temperature of 20 – 25 °C. 

Here is a video explaining the decaf coffee:

 

The fact that caffeine is extracted in these conditions that are not too harsh means that the originality of the coffee will be protected. The extraction is done using a long period (30 – 50 hours), effectively removing the caffeine content from these beans. At the final stage, a vacuum pump at low atmospheric pressure removes as much moisture from these beans as possible until it reaches a 10% moisture content.

decaf coffees

Sapporo Coffee Kan is dedicated to creating unique, high-quality decaf coffees. They believe in using only the finest beans and using traditional methods to produce exceptional decaf coffees that retain their rich, full taste and aroma.

Try the Sumiyaki coffee for a new experience, and your coffee drinking will be more fun. In addition, you will start to explore more coffee options and have more ideas about different good-tasting coffee drinks.

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