Ace Kahawara | Founder of Alchemist Coffee
Ace Kawahara’s past might not be what you would expect from a stereotypical coffee connoisseur that has a specialty coffee shop. It is only upon closer inspection that one would utterly understand that all his life experiences complimented one another and culminated in where he is today.
Paulo Coelho’s book ‘Alchemist’ inspired Ace tremendously. After the book planted the seed in his head, his wife played a huge role in cultivating it and helping it grow from a dream into reality. The end product was Alchemist Coffee, Ace’s coffee shop situated in Hokkaido, the northern Japanese island.
According to Ace, ‘coffee counseling’ is similar to wine tasting. Patrons have the option of tasting 3 fresh coffees for free, while enjoying the warmth of Alchemist Coffee hospitality and learning more about coffee.
Ace (Founder of Alchemist Coffee) and His Wife, Sayaka
From Olympic skater to coffee connoisseur
Ace in Action on the Ice as a Child
Years later, Ace was backpacking through Europe when he met his current wife, Sayaka, while traveling through Norway. Once he returned to Japan, he became a hotel manager and became exposed to the skill of high-level hospitality.
It was a natural fit for Ace. He thrived while meeting and conversing with people from all walks of life and different corners of the globe. Ace was elevated by the experience, but he still did not feel 100% content. It was during this time that his wife, Sayaka, asked him openly about what would truly make him happy in life.
Until that exact moment, it had been a secret dream of Ace to have his own coffee shop. Unfortunately, sometimes all of us struggle with revealing our genuine desires, and Ace was no different at that point in time.
Sayaka gave Ace the confidence to admit what he most desired, and that was to have his own coffee shop.
Following his epiphany, they moved to Sapporo. It is here where Ace started directing all of his energy into learning and appreciating coffee. He experimented with coffee roasting in his own apartment. He became aware of the seasonality, locations, and flavours of beans that he appreciated the most. Once he became confident with his flavours and roasts, he started selling his products in person to various cafes and restaurants across the city.
Planning a New Business Can Be a Daunting Task
Within half a year after he started, he had the demand confirmation, and he was able to open Alchemist Coffee. Nowadays, he roasts and sells his speciality coffee to home brewers, coffee fanatics and curious coffee lovers alike. He added a unique twist to his consumer’s experience with the free ’coffee counselling’ sessions on offer.
Alchemist Coffee Shop – A Dream Turned Into Reality
Ace’s Handpicked Roasts on Display in Alchemist Coffee
Ace found tremendous inspiration during a trip to Australia’s wine country. During a visit to a winery, he discovered the winery had different wines available for tasting, all for free. The sommelier explained the origins and processes of making each wine, which fascinated Ace. This is where the idea of “coffee counselling” was born.
During the coffee counselling session, they present potential customers with a menu comprising 12 different speciality coffees. These include 2 light roasts, 9 medium roasts, and 1 dark roast.
Coffee Counselling Is an Insightful Experience and It’s Free!
‘Coffee with a wind that blows in your heart.’
Before opening Alchemist Coffee, Ace stumbled upon research findings in an American psychology paper where it was explained that one person living in an urban area has a psychological effect on 10,000 to 20,000 people.
For example, if you thank the clerk at the convenience store in the morning with a smile, the clerk might feel good about your gesture. The customers who are served by the clerk later will also feel the effect of the clerk’s good mood and positivity. After their encounter in the shop, the customers will go to work or school, and their good moods spread throughout the city like that.
“If someone says, ‘Thanks Alchemist Coffee, I feel better now”, that will mean the world to me.”
He hopes that coffee can have that impact, not only in Japan, but throughout the world.