Meet Daiki, the beauty therapist turned roaster who travelled across the world to pursue his passion for coffee.
Daiki’s story begins in the Japanese city of Ise, where he grew up with his parents and older sister. Coming from a long line of beauticians, it was presumed he would follow in his family’s footsteps and pursue a lifelong career in beauty therapy and hairdressing. But after training at an Osaka beauty college and working several years in the industry, Daiki realised a different career path was beckoning.
In the years that followed, he studied English in Florida and California, then worked as a prep chef in Vancouver before returning to Ise to undertake a chef position in an Italian restaurant. It was here that Daiki found the calling he’d been seeking. Upon undergoing barista training with latte art extraordinaire @maoespresso, a deep and genuine interest in coffee was sparked. He quickly mastered his craft and became a Coffee Meister through the Certified Coffee Association of Japan. However, the Japanese coffee scene, which for the most part forwent machinery and technology for filter coffee without milk, meant that there were limited opportunities to progress his training and turn coffee into a career. So, in late 2018, Daiki decided to pack up his life and travel across the world (well, 8000km south anyway!) to pursue his budding passion in the coffee capital of the world: Melbourne.
He arrived in the coffee obsessed city with the goals of building on his barista training and beginning to learn about the roasting process. Shortly after settling into his new home in the south east, Daiki discovered The Corner Store Network as the best specialty coffee roaster in his area. He sussed out the cafe and after approving of our vibe (and more importantly, our coffee!) decided to drop off his resume. As chance would have it, we’d been about to advertise for a new coffee roaster and barista to allow then-roaster Jake to move into a more senior role. Daiki, now affectionately known as “D”, came in for an interview with Jake and the pair instantly bonded over a mutual love of jazz and basketball. Feeling a genuine connection, Jake immediately offered D a trial as a barista.
His first test came on his very first shift while serving coffees from the trike at a farmers market. Being new to markets, our mobile coffee setup was not at all efficient and things quickly descended into chaos when the other cafe’s coffee machine broke, making our then-little set up the sole provider for hundreds of caffeine-hungry Melburnians. It was a stinking hot day and the customers started to pile up in front of the trike. While this kind of pressure on day one of a new job, in a new city, would’ve made even the best of us snap, Daiki was completely unflappable and calmly served 60 customers deep without breaking a sweat. We knew right then that he would be the perfect permanent addition for the fast paced and sometimes unpredictable nature of our cafe and roastery.
In the four years since joining our team, Daiki has taken the role of barista, and then head roaster, in his stride, letting nothing phase him - including machinery meltdowns, been thrown in the deep end on various road trips to events and other unpredictable occurrences that come with being an extension of the Mahar family! His usual day begins with heating the roaster to its optimal temperature, roasting the beans, grinding and bagging daily coffee orders before wrapping things up by cupping the previous day’s roast in the afternoon. This cupping process is not only a form of quality control, but determines the best roast profile for every bean variety, something D is passionate about. He particularly loves the science between roasting green bean and how each roast can be tailored to change the flavour of the bean. When asked the secret to roasting a great coffee, he says it’s understanding the equipment you’re using and its limitations, developing a solid baseline and then undertaking regular cupping to see how changes in roasting affect flavour profile.
As well as being Head Roaster, D continues to work with Jake at farmers markets and events, using various festivals as sightseeing tours across the state. When not working, he immerses himself like a true local in all his favourite things about Melbourne: the coffee and cafe culture, the food and the live music scene, in particular jazz, hip hop and rock gigs. He regularly plays basketball, practises saxophone and is currently trying his hand at guitar. Unsurprisingly, his favourite food is sushi, but he’s a huge fan of Italian as well. When asked the biggest difference between Japan and Melbourne, he (hilariously) says the weather, and that Melbourne weather is crazy. He’s not wrong there!
We’re thrilled to have had him on board for the past four years, but Daiki’s journey with coffee is only just beginning. He plans to stay in Australia, developing his knowledge and skills with the ultimate goal of becoming a q-grader, the sommelier equivalent of the coffee industry. Until then, he’ll continue to live and breathe coffee, expertly roasting our beans, perfecting his latte art and enjoying multiple V60 pour overs - his favourite coffee order.
Now that you know the coffee wizard behind the roast, if you want to grab a bag of Daiki's latest batch you can shop our specialty coffee online at any time!