Design Feature #45

Coffee Changes the City

Yasuo Suzuki’s Origami Coffee Filter

Text: Kit Chan
Photos: TRUNK Coffee Bar & Kurasu

It is a delicate toy, a handmade craft, and indeed a coffee filter. The Minoyaki for which Gifu Prefecture, Japan is renowned, is meant to be the ceramic made of fired clay but now such beauty is materialised in the floral form of paper that makes the life blossom.

The colour is also the highlight. Available in all describable colours, the functional coffee brewing tool now turns to be a pleasant life prop, brightening and beautifying everyone’s excursions of enjoyment.

The filter cup is not just for enjoyment and its functionality cannot be ignored. While the heat transferring and preserving ceramic helps keep the coffee hot when brewing; the pyramidal paper filter cup allows the coffee powder to be heated more evenly thanks to the seamless attachment of the filter paper to the complex multi-angle structure of the cup and its groovy design that stabilizes the water flow, lending itself to the release of the best aroma and taste of the coffee powder during hand-brewing.

Such a tool is simply straightforwardly named ORIGAMI and this term referring to the well-established traditional Japanese craft of paper folding is now inexplicably applicable to the making of coffee, in a stunningly beautiful manner.

Created about four years ago and structurally optimized in 2017, the coffee filter was masterminded by Yasuo Suzuki, designer cum founder of TRUNK Coffee Bar from Nagoya, Japan.

“Coffee tools have always been masculine,” described Suzuki. “I want to design a filter cup that makes everyone feel good and attract everyone to use it, including girls, then adults and children will be happy.”

Before his presence, no one would associate Nagoya with coffee, on the ground of the city’s time-honoured fame on the prevalence of old-fashioned teahouses with scarce establishment of independent coffee shops. Despite the third wave coffee boom in Tokyo and Osaka, the coffee industry in Nagoya remained stagnant and nostalgic.

Nevertheless, everything changed because of Suzuki's “coffee tour”. There is a somewhat legendary story behind when coffee changes Suzuki thoroughly before reshaping Nagoya: Fond of travelling and hence working in a travel agency after his graduation from college, Suzuki eventually decided to move out of Nagoya before his age of 30 as he could not tolerate the boredom from work. He has stayed in Malta in Southern Europe for four years, during which he came into contact with the foreign coffee culture and began to dream: Can I become a coffee barista?

Consequently, he traveled again, leaving Malta for Denmark to learn how to make coffee.

The seemingly passionate story does involve blood, sweat and tears. Since no coffee shops were willing to hire Suzuki, he worked as a volunteer on basic skill practice in a somewhat historic coffee shop every day. His effort paying half a year later, he was finally officially hired as the first Japanese barista in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Not lazy at all even at his free time, he always sought ideas from professional baristas in The Coffee Collective, a highly popular coffee shop in the city.

Upon his return to Japan in 2012, Suzuki helped the Norwegian coffee shop Fuglen to set up its branch in Tokyo. Surprisingly, the café became a hit, along with the very hot moment seeing the third coffee wave. Two years passed and Suzuki came up with a new plan: heading back home of Nagoya where coffee culture was yet to mushroom and opening his own café to interpret his own coffee stories.

Since the launch of the TRUNK Coffee Bar, Nagoya has finally seen a relaxing space for coffee enjoyment and exploration, attracting coffee lovers to join and scenting the city with coffee aroma in the years to come.

More than a coffee shop, TRUNK Coffee Bar is a spotlight that highlights Nagoya in the worldwide stage of coffee, which tells the reason he wants to design, and to co-produce with the craftsmen from Gifu, some coffee-related utensils and hence coffee manages to express the good of Nagoya and the central part of Japan.

TRUNK, synonymous with the must-have luggage for travellers, means the thick core of a tree, symbolising the solid and ever-expanding growth of the coffee culture in the city, testified by the presence of three shop outlets in Nagoya and Suzuki’s incessant worldwide travel with the aromatic and tasteful introduction of his hometown with his origami filter cups.

TRUNK Coffee Bar: http://www.trunkcoffee.com/