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Namusairo Coffee Roasters, Seoul, South Korea

I started to play the piano when I was four and continued to play until I graduated from university. It felt like a very natural thing to do at the time, playing the piano and studying music. Then one day, I began to wonder if music really was a universal language and if Western music was the standard for interpreting music per se. So I decided to study ethnomusicology at graduate school. My goal was to study different kinds of music from different parts of the world. I wanted to learn and understand them based on the differences in their local cultures. I also formed an ensemble with fellow musicians and we held various music events. We even performed original pieces, providing pictures and texts for our audiences to understand them better. We were a troupe of sorts and often traveled the country to perform for new audiences. After all of these experiences, I began to yearn for a permanent place for us. I was 29 at the time and naive enough to think that it wouldn’t be too difficult. I remember thinking, ‘Why don’t I just open up a small shop for my friends and our audience to come and go?’ That’s how I ended up opening Namusairo Coffee in 2002.

I was very ambitious though as I wanted it to be more than just a cafe. I wanted it to be a place for cultural exchanges and experiences in our community. However, it was a café after all, which meant coffee was the most important thing. I realised that relatively quickly; purchased a roasting machine the very next year and we started roasting our own coffee. It was only natural that my interest in the quality of the beans, their origins; the framers who produced them and their lives, was growing every day. I also started to wonder if coffee can enrich our lives. Then I found an answer by travelling the world to find good coffee. It was as if my dream as a graduate student was coming true – doing field studies in other countries learning their cultures and music. The only difference was that I was doing it with coffee.

For me roasting is physical labour and a thinking process at the same time. Good ingredients are a must. I do my best to understand the beans and to roast them as evenly, thoroughly as possible. I’ve realised that there is no easy way to do this. Sometimes it takes much more time and effort than I anticipate. And I just have to deal with it just like the many coffee farmers who struggle to come up with the best cherries and seeds. I wish to share our values – understanding the importance of hard work and good ingredients – with those whom we connect, thanks to coffee.
– Junsun Bae

Founded
2002
Roast Style
Light – Medium, clean, nice on the palate
Artisans
Junsun Bae, Founder & Head Roaster
Website