The coffee industry has never been as abundant, when it comes to variety, as it is today. With hundreds of companies offering all kinds of different beverages from all over the world, it is natural that one would have a hard time navigating to find something truly exceptional.
However, that exact load of information from both companies and coffee lovers, has made the most prominent and diligent of enterprises rise to the top of the mountain, from where they can be seen and found.
One of these groups is Maruyama Coffee, which although young in the industry, has brought forward some unmatched results for all coffee-lovers to experience.
But let’s take it from the start. What is Maruyama Coffee?
Early History and Origins
Maruyama Coffee started operations in 1991 when a young Kentaro Maruyama decided he wasn’t cut out for university. Instead, he wanted to do something by himself and start right away.
At this stage of his life, he discovered home roasting and opened his first store in Karuizawa town, in Nagano prefecture.
That was in the early ‘90s, when home roasting really took off as a trend. As for the concept of “specialty coffee”, it was not something you encountered in Japan. That term only reached the land of Sakura blossoms in the early 2000s.
Up until then however, young Kentaro kept practicing and improving his roasting skills. While progressing in his journey, he decided he wanted to build something that would bring real value to his customers. That notion runs through the culture of the company as of today!
With that goal in mind, he also visited multiple coffee-related events around the world, to expand his knowledge and expertise.
Understanding how the quality of his work had to do first and foremost with the beans themselves, he started travelling to the source locations and building relationships with the local farmers.
He knew that by constructing real bonds between the two, production and distribution, he could really provide a consistent high-quality to his audience and secure a steady income for his producers. A complete win-win scenario!
Expanding in the local industry
In the early 2000s, Specialty coffee as a trend emerged in the local industry, and Maruyama coffee started drawing more attention to it.
At this point, expansion was the only viable solution, as the demand grew higher. Since the relationships that Kentaro had built up over the years were flourishing and could provide the quantity, the project was possible. A new problem arose though.
To expand, while maintaining the quality of the coffee and the culture of the company, more people were necessary. And not just any people.
So Kentaro started recruiting individuals to fill that gap. The most important piece of the puzzle, of course, was that members of the group were not selected only for their professional capabilities, but for their personality as well.
It had to be people who understood the company’s goal and had the diligence to improve their art even further, with that in mind.
It didn’t take long until the company opened more stores in multiple prefectures, today counting 9 active cafes and roasteries all over Japan.
Champions of Maruyama
The company started sending baristas to competitions regarding coffee in 2006, starting with the Japan Barista Championship.
After that first year, Maruyama’s participants started scoring in the first 5 positions of the competition, and through the 2009-2013 period, they brought home the title every single year.
The peek of their competition-related operations was reached in 2014, when Hidenori Izaki scored 1st in the World Barista Championship, the biggest coffee-event in the world.
As it was revealed by the champion, however, he wouldn’t have succeeded without the coaching of his colleagues and Kentaro himself. Miki Suzuki and Mihide Nakahara had competed in the World Championship before him, and their knowledge proved priceless.
It wasn’t a win for one person, but for everyone in the company!
Maruyama coffee has also performed exceptionally well in Japan Siphonist Championship and Japan Brewers Cup, scoring top positions every couple of years.
Seems like the next generation of champions is being prepared as we speak!
Position in the Market and What makes them special
Right now, Maruyama is mainly operating domestically but has been shipping coffee all around the world for a few years now.
What makes Maruyama coffee truly special isn’t so much the attention that has come from their champions, but the very vision that got them going in the first place, a great coffee experience.
While they procure their beans raw, directly form the farmers, they have invested in training their roasters nearly to perfection.
All these years spent in research and experimentation have granted them priceless insight as to how each kind of coffee should be roasted, what blends would work better, and how they can highlight certain traits if desired.
Now having the infrastructure to not only get the beans but also prepare them to the highest quality possible and ship them worldwide, their success is no wonder.
Unsurprisingly, Kentaro himself spends around 6 months every year travelling, learning more, and bringing home new varieties and tastes.
Unique blends and products
One of the most spectacular traits of Maruyama is that it hasn’t forgotten its mission to bring high quality coffee to people regardless of their place in the world. So, if they can’t visit the stores in person, specialty coffee of the highest quality can be sent directly to them.
They bring to the table products like Geisha Las Alacitas, a single origin Bolivian Geisha blend used by Miki Suzuki in the World Barista Championship in 2016, and simultaneously, French press and drip coffee, for home brewing if one so desires.
It’s incredible how with a simple order you can get your hands to one of the most high-quality coffees worldwide, with a click of a button.
For more information about both Miki Suzuki and the Geisha coffee, I will make sure to link more right here!
To summarize everything, I believe enjoying a great cup of coffee is one of the most heartwarming experiences a coffee lover could ask for.
In the vast coffee industry of 2023, where so many distributors are trying to bring forward unique tastes for all the community, I think those who can remain at the top for so long definitely have something of value to offer.
Maruyama coffee is a perfect example of that, and I highly suggest trying one of their cups first chance you get!