【コラム】台南のコミュニティについて

[Column] About the Tainan community

Yesterday there were a lot of annoying customers,
Maybe it was because I was tired from thinking about coffee recipes until late into the night every day and didn't get enough sleep, but after closing time I was (mentally) down for the first time in a while.

At that time, I suddenly received a call from the owner of a coffee shop who I was friendly with.
"I'm going to deliver something now."
And he gave me a cupping spoon and a cup as a present, saying, "See, you always use a regular spoon when cupping, right? Haha."

Cupping is coffee tasting.
You use a spoon to sip the tea, but the spoons made specifically for cupping are quite expensive, so I've always used a regular, slightly deeper spoon instead.
I've been doing a lot of cupping sessions with other coffee shop owners recently, and I was just starting to think that I really wanted a proper cupper.

From his perspective, it was a way of thanking me for lending him my roasting machine, but it didn't really matter either way; I hadn't really had this kind of connection before, so it made me really happy and warm inside.

(He's going to compete in the Taiwan qualifying round of the world roasting championships starting this weekend, and the roaster he's using is the one I use, so he's been coming over to practice a lot recently. By the way, I'm Japanese, so I can't participate in the championships... too bad.)

What I've really noticed recently is the lack of business-like feel in Tainan (in a good way).
For example, I think it's the same in Taipei and Tokyo, but I think they basically draw a clear line between their own company and their competitors, and they take it to an appropriate extent, but in Tainan, that sense is completely absent.

I sometimes wonder if it's okay to give advice to customers and potential competitors, publish recipes without hesitation, and introduce people and businesses.

For example, I've recently been sharing roasting data, theories, and hypotheses with roasters from other coffee shops to discuss how to make the beans taste better, cupping and evaluating each other's roasted beans together, experimenting with different settings for coffee brewing recipes, recommending new raw beans to each other, and talking candidly about employee training and profit structures.

Even though our relationship involves profits and losses, we are able to ignore those profits and losses, which is a very comfortable relationship.
We both love coffee so much that thinking about how to make even more delicious coffee is a higher motivation than any financial gain; it's simply something we both enjoy.

I think that many of the people at other stores in Tainan also run their stores because they "love it," and since the owners are usually the ones at the store, they have a strong sense of awareness and instinctively feel that the more open they are, the more positive things will come in return.

Because getting feedback on something you've worked hard on means you can evolve even further. I think you'd rather take the advantage of going further than the risk of being copied. Well, maybe you just haven't thought about it at all. Lol

In this respect, I think Japan is truly closed off.
This is especially evident in the lack of information on coffee roasting. Roasting theories and recipes are never found in Japanese, and you have to access them in English. On the other hand, in English and Chinese, online school videos are available for free, academic theories are published, and there are tons of bulletin boards, websites, Facebook groups, and Instagram accounts that publish and discuss roasting data.
I really wish this kind of thing could be more open in Japan.

Anyway, Tainan has an excellent environment that makes it easy for people of all kinds to start their own business.
Aside from the fact that the cost is low, the biggest benefit is that there are people willing to help.

Even if you have no experience, there are people everywhere who will teach you (it's common for friends and friends of friends to be self-employed), and they will often teach you and help you with things like introducing you to properties and companies, recommending equipment, and brokering used equipment.
Even after they actually open, these people introduce them to customers and give them advice, and it's common to see events being held through connections between stores.

Well, as with anything there are positive aspects, there are also negative aspects.
On the other hand, it's very friendly and open, but only among friends. It's quite difficult to find information there on your own, and starting something without any acquaintances or friends in Tainan requires a lot of perseverance and luck. (That's why I had a really hard time.)
Is it a strong sense of camaraderie? A sense of nationhood? A sense of citizenship? Is there perhaps an aspect of nationalism?

And there are many times when I feel uncomfortable with that sense of camaraderie.
Depending on the store, the attitude towards regulars (friends) and regular customers can be completely different, customers can be attracted not by personality or personal effort but simply by connections with influencers, and the reputation of the store can change greatly depending on the connections...
The difference in the information and things that can be obtained depending on the connection is so large that not only does it feel unfair, but it also seems that the number of closed and boring places is increasing.
What's even more unfortunate is that some people seem to be trying too hard to make that connection.
(Well, the most unfortunate thing is that in the current environment, we can't help but see this as an advantage.)

I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing.
However, what I feel is that it is a city where people are very close to each other and it is easy to try new things. However, this is a double-edged sword, as there are high hurdles to overcome in order to get close to the city and a clear sense of unfairness arises.
So I think it's important to value connections, but at the same time, make an effort to define your own value even without them.

Recently, things have become unclear on social media, but
I believe that what makes a person interesting isn't their appearance or their title, but the unique way they think and their values ​​that are shaped by their life experiences.

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