Recently, two baristas from our Dubai stores visited Kyoto for machine maintenance training, and we asked them their experience coming to Japan for the first time. Below photo: Yash (left), Fritz (right)
1. Please introduce yourself and share your previous barista experience with us.
Y: I am Yash, from Nepal, which is known as the country of Mount Everest and Lord Buddha. I am 25 years old and have been working in the field of coffee since March 2013, when I started being a barista in Dubai. I have won UAE V60 brew champion 2016. That was the first time I joined the competition.
F: Hi, my name is Fritz Llavore, from the Philippines. I’m 31 years old and I started my barista career in 2010. I shifted to Dubai in the year 2014.
2. When did you join % Arabica, and how is working for us so far?
Y: I was the opening team of % Arabica UAE in September 2016. Throughout this journey, I have been enjoying being a part of % Arabica since the very beginning and the love for this brand will be infinite.
F: I joined % Arabica September 2016 and working here so far has been a great experience and very fulfilling. It enhanced my skills and craft to a whole new level.
3. What was your view of Japan/Kyoto before coming to Japan?
Y: It was a great opportunity for me to visit Japan where I always used to hear about from guests in UAE. I always understand Japanese as civilized and hard-working people. And from this visit, I am convinced that they are not only civilized and hard-working, but also helpful and polite. This is the reason why Japan is one of the most developed countries in the world.
F: I really had high hopes going to Japan because it is my dream country. I am fond of their anime, food and movies. Also, I have been a fan of Junichi Yamaguchi ever since I started my career as a barista. When I see their baristas on social media, I always find them very elegant, fashionable, neat, clean, organized, friendly and happy to be with. The place looks very peaceful and Instagram worthy.
4. What’s your view of Japan/Kyoto after your trip?
Y: Kyoto is a small and beautiful city with no pollution around. All the people there are with patience. % Arabica Kyoto are so welcoming and supportive, which made me feel like I have known them for a long time. It was a wonderful experience even though it was a short stay.
F: Japan didn’t disappoint me. This trip has been one of the best parts of my life. Everybody is nice and polite. The staff always wear a smile on their face and they have great teamwork. I can really see that they love their job and that they have the passion for it. The place is clean, peaceful and I really love the scenic view of % Arabica Higashiyama and Arashiyama. If there is a possibility for me to transfer from Dubai to Japan, I would love to. I honestly do.
5. What were your most memorable findings?
Y: The overall stay in Japan is very memorable for me. The time spent with all the team members of % Arabica Kyoto and the dinner with % Arabica’s founder, Kenneth, together with Naoki at the Japanese Ramen restaurant were awesome. I would like to thank them from the bottom of my heart for the precious time that they have spent with me.
F: One of the most memorable findings aside from the place being awesome, and its charming people, among all, is the work ethics of the staff, especially Mr. Takahiro Ueshima. % Arabica Kyoto is very lucky to have him. He is selfless and utterly focused on his job, teaching us a great lot of things.
6. What were your favourite food in Kyoto?
Y: Actually I loved all the food I’ve had in Japan. Ramen is one of my favourites and we also went to some Japanese traditional restaurants where we had delicious food. To be honest, I had no idea what we have ordered. But the food was delicious. Buying food in the supermarket was a little bit hard for me as I couldn’t read the tags which were all written in Japanese! But that was really fun.
F: Too many to mention, but I usually buy Bento and sweets from the convenience store. I was hoping to taste Japanese curry but unfortunately didn’t find one. But most of all, I loved the matcha flavoured pancake with sweet red bean paste, I’m not sure though because it’s written in Japanese. The matcha fits well with the sweetness of the filling.
7. Please teach us what you learned from this trip.
Y: I got to learn more about the maintenance of % Arabica’s iconic Slayer machine and the roasting machine. This is really a useful skill to learn and bring back to % Arabica UAE. So, here is my ongoing journey with this wonderful brand % Arabica, where I am enjoying my work to the fullest and keep doing my best to make it shine in the world. I look forward to more opportunities to “See the World Through Coffee” in the future.
F: Our trip was short but was very much worth it. If you have longer time, you should visit all the historical spots like temples and other tourist spots. The views are like pictures straight from the Shogun Era of Japan. Have time to meet % Arabica staff, they are all very friendly. If only I had the time I would definitely want to know them very well. Also, try their local cafes and restaurants. They all have their own specialties and will really amaze your taste buds. Lastly, I had a great time at their gifts shops. My one favourite was the samurai umbrella which is very famous in the Philippines. Overall it has been a great experience seeing the world through coffee.
Follow Yash and Fritz on Instagram ***