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The official Website for Hagihara Coffee

About Hagihara Coffee

Hagihara’s history

The single-minded pursuit of tasty coffee

Hagihara Coffee was founded in 1928. Founder Miyoji Hagihara started the roasting and wholesale of coffee beans in Kobe during a period when life was becoming more modern. Miyoji invented the charcoal roasting technique on his own, and created the taste on which current Hagihara Coffee is based. We remain attached to the Founder’s principle of creating truly tasty coffee. We strive for the ideal taste with ever greater passion.

Hagihara Coffee was founded in 1928.

We strive for the ideal taste with ever great

Born in Ako, a city in the western part of Hyogo Prefecture, Miyoji Hagihara started out as a food wholesaler in Kobe dealing in red beans, soybeans, canned food, etc. One day, a supplier advised him to start the roasting and wholesale of coffee beans, saying, “In future, a lot of people will drink coffee.” In those days, people had begun to taste coffee in cafes in Kobe, a modern city. In October 1928, Miyoji launched this business, sensing the advent of a new trend.

One can bake bread nicely in an oven with firewood. This may be true for coffee, too・・・

Though Miyoji anticipated some difficulty when he began roasting coffee beans, the challenge proved more difficult than he had thought. At first, he made trials and errors using a gas oven. In those days, there was a popular bakery (with which Miyoji did business) that used firewood and an original oven to bake bread. Whenever Miyoji went to the bakery to make a delivery, he observed how tasty looking bread was baked in the oven, and thought, “Maybe coffee can be made tastier in this way.”
Unfortunately, Japan soon entered the wartime period, the import of coffee beans was suspended, and Miyoji had no choice but to close his business.
Even after the war, import wasn’t resumed for some time. He shared beans from unknown sources (probably the Occupation Army, or the storage of the former Japanese Army) with some colleagues, and began roasting a small quantity of beans with an oven that had been dug out from the ruins of war-torn Kobe. In time, the recovery got on course, and he began to receive inquiries about coffee beans from former and new customers.
The import of coffee beans was finally resumed in 1950. Remembering that bakery, Miyoji decided to take on the challenge of charcoal roasting.

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Charcoal roasting is what makes Hagihara Coffee

A laborious process for good coffee

At first, Miyoji had difficulties finding charcoal for roasting, and used firewood chopped into minute pieces that looked like charcoal. He then found charcoal suitable for the roasting of coffee beans, and began to make full-fledged efforts to realize charcoal roasting.

Charcoal roasting is a more laborious process than the gas-based process, as charcoal fire must be adjusted to suit the condition of beans, and the condition of roasting checked through visual and auditory observation. But this contributes to making an original, full-bodied coffee with a pleasant taste. Further, Miyoji also made it a rule to use high-quality, costly green beans. Naturally, the price of roasted beans increased compared to competitors due to this practice.

Even so, he admonished his employees not to make any discount, on the grounds that his products should be sold only to those customers who could discern the taste they created.

This attests to his firm confidence and pride in Hagihara’s taste and quality.

A belief transcending the times and fads

In the 1960s, when Japan entered a period of high economic growth, one competitor after another adopted the hot air-based gas roasting method that allowed a large quantity of beans to be roasted efficiently. But Hagihara stuck to charcoal roasting that assured its original taste. In the 1980s, with the advent of the age of gastronomy, charcoal roasting was highlighted as a symbol of tastiness. But Tsuneo Hagihara (current Advisor), who had succeeded Miyoji as manager of Hagihara Coffee, was easily swayed by the demands of people all over Japan who wanted Hagihara’s products only for the merit of charcoal roasting. This episode evidences Tsuneo’s gratitude to the many faithful customers who appreciated Hagihara’s true merit, and single-minded attachment to charcoal roasting as Hagihara had practiced since its founding. Exploration of beans, new moves

Encounter with Akaneya Coffee Shop

Akaneya Coffee Shop opened in Ikuta Ward (present day Chuo Ward), Kobe in 1966. The late Keishiro Funakoshi, the first owner of the shop who was uncompromising in all matters, chose Hagihara Coffee as his coffee supplier. According to him, he liked not only the taste of our coffee, but our unflinching adherence to the laborious charcoal-roasting method.

An excerpt (summary) from Funakoshi’s book “Coffee – 995 Yen” runs as follows: “One day at a time soon after the opening of my shop, when it was frequented by only a few customers, I killed time by taking bad beans out of the mocha beans. I then made a coffee using only the bad beans by way of a trial. It tasted awful. After this experience, I and my wife made it a rule to take out the bad beans. But after a certain point in time, hardly any bad beans were found in the delivery. I thought this event strange, and asked the representative of Hagihara Coffee about it. He replied, “As I felt sorry when I saw you take out the bad beans, we decided to sift the beans before delivery.” Though grateful for their attentiveness, I had to check the invoice sent to us at the end of the month. But the price hadn’t changed from the previous month. When I offered to pay them more in exchange for the special service, they insisted on doing it free of charge. So, we gratefully accepted their kindness. We thus ended up having nothing to do. But in time, our business grew busy, which made me appreciate the service even more. Talking about this affair, we agreed that it had been a good decision to refrain from beating down the price in appreciation of Hagihara’s merit.” Hagihara also remembers this experience fondly, and has derived an important lesson from it.

Akaneya Coffee Shop became famous by virtue of its original and inventive management method, and came to be frequented by illustrious people in various fields of activity. Funakoshi was heard to say, “Our coffee tastes the best in the world, as we use Hagihara’s charcoal-roasted beans.

The encounter with Akaneya Coffee Shop proved beneficial for Hagihara Coffee too, as it gave us an opportunity for the great development of our business.Though the ownership of Akaneya Coffee Shop has changed, we still maintain a close relationship with it.

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A fortunate encounter with a Brazilian cup taster

For coffee bean roasters, it is a fortunate experience to encounter excellent cup tasters who can understand and realize the taste they strive for. In 1982, Kojiro Hagihara (current President) visited Colombia and Brazil, the coffee bean producers, and observed work and processes for green bean selection on farms. During the visit, he voraciously sought firsthand knowledge of coffee beans, and strengthened his resolve to develop an original brand, which he had harbored before the visit. When he visited the Santos Office of Mitsubishi Brazil (current MCCB), he casually addressed a Brazilian cup taster there, and they hit it off. When Kojiro asked the cup taster to create Hagihara’s original taste, he gave his surprisingly ready consent. This was the first encounter between Kojiro and Maneco, an internationally famous cup taster. “BRAZIL HAGIHARA,” a currently marketed original brand, was born from this encounter.

Overcoming earthquake damage

In 1993, a much hoped-for roasting factory was completed in Nagata Ward, Kobe. In this advanced factory, all processes up to immediately before roasting were automated. But in January 1995, only two years after the inauguration of the factory, Kobe and its surrounding areas were hit by the Great Hanshin Earthquake that inflicted enormous damage. Operations at the Main Office and factory of Hagihara Coffee were suspended. As an emergency measure, Hagihara requested its competitors to roast and supply beans so as not to cause any trouble to its customers. The factory barely escaped from the fate of total destruction, but the floor inclined by up to 60 cm. Operation was resumed after overcoming this and other problems.

In 2007, another roasting factory was completed in Chuo Ward, Kobe. A lighting ceremony was held to inaugurate the factory. This was an occasion to appreciate the efforts of factory staff who had maintained the same Hagihara Taste as before the earthquake, even though the equipment remained in an unsatisfactory condition; and also to express our hopes for our future business. We are still perfecting the taste of Hagihara Coffee at this new factory surrounded by the sea and the Rokko Mountains.

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