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[Feature] Yamagata’s specialty coffee at Zao Forest Roasting Studio


I discovered the Zao no Mori Roastery on the way back from Kajo Park.

When I opened the door of the shop, the scent of coffee and the fashionable owner welcomed me.

They taught me how to brew delicious coffee and the difference between beans to enjoy at home.

Enjoy a quiet weekend with a cup of delicious coffee.

Zao no Mori Roastery


The Zao no Mori Roastery Hatago-machi branch is a coffee bean shop & café opened in November 2015.

It was said that the meeting of the owner and coffee was freshly roasted coffee made by a friend about 20 years ago.

He was shocked by the deliciousness and was drawn into the charm of coffee from there.

Originally the owner used to run the Potato pension in the Zao Pension Village. The interior of the shop here has a cozy atmosphere and is a very calm space.



In addition to straight coffee, you can also find blended coffee with names of potato varieties.

Beans are mainly sold, but you can also have coffee in the store.

It seems that they also hold coffee classes to enjoy delicious coffee at home.

◆ Encounter with a cup of coffee

● Coffee connects

When I entered the store, what caught my eye was the sign with “Encounter comes from a cup of coffee…” written on it.

This is great, isn’t it?

These words come from the owner who values his encounter with customers.

I wonder what kind of encounter came from cup of coffee?


It’s hard to have a conversation with the owner of a café you visit for the first time.
Most people nowadays drink coffee with their smartphones in their hands.

However, even if it was a pension, it was possible to have conversations between the owner and guests through coffee.

It seems that some of them got married because of their encounter at the pension.

An encounter that comes from a cup of coffee is truly romantic.

● The encounter continues


In fact, this shop also has a big table where you can have coffee.

Since it is a small space, unfamiliar customers often have coffee at the same table.

When I visited, there were three customers and we had coffee together.

Before I knew it, I joined the conversation and had a good time.

If you drop in on your way somewhere, you may come in contact with the locals and listen to the raw Yamagata dialect!

◆ Enjoy coffee like at home

● This is recommended if you want to try it!

If you don’t know what you like, it might be a good idea to try the recommendations of the shop.

Or buy a set of great coffee blends and give it a try at home.


For those who just want to try it, there is an “Original blend drip pack 5 types set” for 650 yen (tax included).

If you want to try it with your family, we recommend the “Blend 5 types trial set 100g x 5 types” for 3,000 yen (tax included).

● Six types of blended coffee

Blended coffee is recommended if you want to enjoy coffee easily.

Everything has the name of potato, so it seems that it comes from the pension name “Potato”.


① Potato blend
Beans: Brazil, Guatemala, Columbia 
Roast: medium roast
Characteristics: Classic with a good balance of aroma, sweetness, bitterness and character 
Price: 594 yen (100g) / 972 yen (200g)
 ② Danshuku blend (organic blend)
Beans: Andean Mountain, others
Roast: high roast
Characteristics: faint sweetness and refreshing bitterness 
Low acidity
Price: 648 yen (100g) / 1,188 yen (200g)
③ May Queen blend
Beans: Ethiopia Moka, others.
Roast: cinnamon roast 
Characteristics: citrus acidity and sweetness, unique aroma
Recommended by Danshuku Nomura
Price: 648 yen (100g) / 1,188 yen (200g)
④ Kita Akari blend
Beans: Kilimanjaro, others
Roast: city roast 
Characteristics: sweet and bitter, character
Chocolate flavor scent, ideal after supper
Price: 594 yen (100g) / 972 yen (200g)
⑤ Inca no megumi blend
Beans: Mandheling G1 Concordia, others
Roast: fullcity roast
Characteristics: Strong body, subtle lemon acidity, strong character and bitterness
Price: 648 yen (100g) / 1,188 yen (200g)
⑥ Zao-no-mori blend
Beans: Fruta Mercadao, others
Roast: high roast
Characteristics: This is the blend created by Chika, the Yamagata University student who obtained her Coffee Meister certification in February 2020. 
Price: 810 yen (100g) / 1,512 yen (200g)
※ All prices include tax

◆ Making delicious coffee

They taught me how to brew delicious coffee so that I can enjoy home brewed coffee.

This time, we will introduce the common “paper drip”.

[First quantity]
For 1 cup (150ml) 
●Coffee: 15g
● Hot water (85℃)
※ For 2 cups 30g & 300ml, and for 3 cups 40g & 450ml

[Pouring the hot water]


① Pour the hot water from the center.
② Pour it evenly over the whole surface.
③ Let steam for 30 seconds.
It will inflate.
This is a sign that the beans are fresh.


④ ・ ⑤ Do not pour on the sides but instead slowly pour in the shape of a spiral from the center.
⑥ If you can draw the coffee well, the middle will be hollow.
⑦ Then, pour it into a warm coffee cup and drink.

● Freshness is everything to coffee
● It is best to use the beans within 2 to 3 months after roasting
※ The beans will oxydize with time giving them an acidic bad aftertaste.

● Keep the beans in a Mason jar (glass with band) or in a Ziploc.

● Hot water temperature:
After boiling let it rest for about a minute to reach around 85℃

When fresh coffee beans are steamed, they swell sufficiently and smell good.
Even if you drink your coffee in black, it has a refreshing citrus-like acidity.

Please give it a try.

◆ Deep coffee world

Even people who usually drink instant coffee may be drawn to its charm.

They taught me how the taste changes depending on the degree of roasting and how it differs between straight and blended.

● Roasting

Roasting is used on the coffee beans.

When roasted, the components contained in the beans undergo a chemical change, giving a wonderful aroma, bitterness, sourness, and sweetness.

There are eight degrees of roasting in total, and it seems that the light roast has a strong acidity and the deep roast becomes bitter.


By roasting according to the characteristics of the beans, it seems that delicious and delicious coffee can be made.

If the degree of roast determines the taste of the coffee, you could say that the roasting is like the color of the shop.


[Light roasting]
{Light roast}
● This is just starting to color the beans
● Character and scent are not fully developed
{Cinnamon roast}
●This has a light clear taste
[Medium roasting]
{Medium roast}
● Color is dark brown
● This is for light taste American-type coffee
{High roast}
● This is often used in coffee shops or at home in regular coffee
● This is commonly referred to as “medium roast” 
● This has a mild acidity, bitterness and sweetness
[Dark roasting]
{City roast}
● This has a coffee brown color
● It is often drunk in Northern Europe, New York and Japan
● This has a refined acidity and character 
{Fullcity roast}
● This has a dark brown color and is often drank in South and Central America
● This is great for ice coffee
● It has light bitterness and strong character
{French roast}
● This is for café au lait and other European-type of arranged coffee
{Italian roast}
● Color is close to black
● This is for espresso or cappuccino

● Difference between straight coffee and blended coffee

● Straight coffee


As the name “straight” means, it is a coffee that uses only one type of beans.
Straight has a distinctive taste and has a strong personality.
I wanted to try various things and feel the difference in taste.

● Blended coffee


The blend is a coffee with a harmonious taste, making full use of the characteristics of the main beans.
The color of the blend is also a characteristic of the store.

By the way, we recommend blending coffee that you can easily drink every day.
There is no better between straight or blended, just personal preferences.

It might be fun to try various things and find your own preference.

What is a Coffee Meister?


The “Coffee Meister” certification is provided by the Japan Specialty Coffee Association.

This is a certification for professional coffee men and women who can propose a rich coffee life to customers based on a deep knowledge of coffee, and also teach the basic coffee making techniques. It is the first certification of this sort in Japan.

The owner, Mr. Nomura, and Chika, a student at Yamagata University, are both certified.

◆ Coffee Meister Chika


Chika discovered coffee when she needed to refresh herself during her studying days.

Her mother also liked coffee, so she gradually became interested in the various types and tastes of coffee.

When she became a college student and started to study coffee with books and such she decided to work part-time at this shop she entered by chance.

Perhaps this was also an “Encounter comes from a cup of coffee…” moment.

Chika, who has acquired the qualification of coffee meister this year and is studying more, says he wants to work for a coffee bean trading company and run a café someday in the future.

This is promising.

● Chika's original blend
Zao no Mori Blend

The first blended coffee made by Chika.

I actually tasted the Zao no Mori Blend.


Blended coffee based on beans called “Frutta Mercadon” (fruit market) and added with chocolate Tropical Mountain.

First of all, when I took a sip, I felt the refreshing acidity of fruits, and then I felt the sweetness and richness like chocolate.

It goes well with chocolate and is a coffee that will be appreciated as a gift.

◆ Coffee class
Good coffee at home!

● Hatago-machi branch

In the classroom, they teach basic coffee knowledge, how to identify coffee beans, how to make delicious coffee (paper drip) and also taste some unique coffees.


Date: Any time
Time: Consultation is available.
Duration: 1 hour
Price: 1,000 yen (excluding tax)
Capacity: 6 people
* Reservation required
For details, please see the official website.

[Click here for the official website]


◆ Summary

What did you think?

Drinking good coffee makes us happy.

When the cherry blossoms are in full bloom in spring, Kajo Park becomes even more beautiful.

The center of Yamagata City has many historic buildings and is ideal for taking a walk.

You can also order takeout at the Zao no Mori Roastery.

Come enjoy Yamagata in spring with delicious coffee.

Detailed information

Zao no Mori Roastery Hatago-machi Branch

Zao no Mori Roastery Hatago-machi Branch

1-9-13 Hatago-machi, Yamagata City, Yamagata Prefecture


● Kaminoyama Onsen Station branch

In addition to the Hatago-machi branch, there is also one in front of Kaminoyama Onsen Station.

They have 5 types of blends and 15 types of straight coffee, all hand-dripped.
There is also a lunch and sweets menu.

Detailed information

Zao no Mori Roastery Kaminoyama Onsen Station branch

Zao no Mori Roastery Kaminoyama Onsen Station branch

1-2-1 Yarai, Kaminoyama City, Yamagata Prefecture


◆ Recommended sightseeing nearby

● [Summary] First from here! Nine spots to enjoy near Yamagata Station

This is a special feature on sighseeing in the central area of Yamagata City.

There are many sightseeing spots to visit during your free time, including the city, its old historical buildings and the large park.

The Zao no Mori Roastery is also conveniently located 5 minutes on foot from the main gate of Kajo Park. Please stop by when you visit the park.

Please click the detailed information link for details.

Detailed information

First from here! Nine spots to enjoy near Yamagata Station

First from here! Nine spots to enjoy near Yamagata Station

Read together