Kalita’s ‘Made in Japan’ series: Products that celebrate the local craftsmanship from all over Japan
One of the most commendable business practices a company can follow is to uphold the local crafts and resources. That is precisely what Kalita, a Japanese company renowned in the coffee world for its exceptionally well-designed and high-quality coffee brewing equipment, has been setting a great example of through its unique product series known as 'Made in Japan.'
This article will introduce you to the fascinating products from Kalita’s 'Made in Japan' series since they are so exceptional and deserve special attention, especially from coffee lovers who care about the impact that the coffee industry has on the environment the community. Each of the product lines in this series has a remarkable story to tell, which is hard to come by in today's market flooded with mass-produced generic coffee equipment.
- What is the importance of business practices like ‘Made in Japan’ that support local craftsmanship and resources?
- The Five Product lines of the "Made in Japan" series
- Kalita KIRI Coffee Mill
- What is Kiri Tansu?
- Kiri Coffee Mills are made in the city of Kiri Tansu
- A design that reflects the beauty of traditional Tansu
- Why is Kiri (paulownia wood) so suitable for constructing a coffee mill?
- Serial number and logo-inscribed sticker reflecting the love put into each coffee mill
- Kalita HASAMI ceramic ware
- The origin of Kalita HASAMI products – the historic pottery village of Hasami
- Artisan hands and advanced technology come together to create the HASAMI Kalita wave drippers
- Kalita Tsubame Metalware
- Kalita Oak Village
- Oak village - A project to treasure the Neo forest woods and to bring local forestry businesses together
- Kalita’s Oak village series brings people, forest, trees, and coffee together
- Kalita Next Generation (Next G) Electric Coffee grinders
Before we get started, if you would like to read more about Kalita as a company, including its history, company values, some of its most popular products, and so on, you can do so here.
What is the importance of business practices like ‘Made in Japan’ that support local craftsmanship and resources?
The most obvious appeal of the “Made In Japan" series of products is that it is made with a focus on Japanese design, craftsmanship, and quality. Japanese designs are known for minimalistic elegance, deep respect for humanity and nature, and user-friendliness. Japanese products are also famous for their life-long durability and high quality. "Made In Japan" features all of these characteristics of Japanese products. However, other aspects of this series of products have a far broader positive impact and meaning beyond the product's mere characteristics.
These products are made in collaboration with the local industries, featuring traditional craftsmanship, skills, and resources. So what does this mean for society as a whole? – Let's take a look.
- Sustainability – Using resources (e.g., raw materials, equipment, factories, etc.) already available in the local region reduces having to make new manufacturing units, meaning there is less pollution. It is sustainable and better for the environment.
- Product diversity – Using local artisan industries bring in designs and crafts that are unique to that locality. It adds to the diversity of the product line of the company as a whole.
- Education and awareness – In the age of rapid globalization, small traditional industries are always at a risk of becoming lost. By incorporating them within the global Kalita brand helps a broader population to be familiarized with them.
- Community well-being – Doing business means creating social and economic relationships. This web of human connections built within the community creates a solid foundation to support the community's well-being.
- Creation of Job and Opportunities – The thriving of the local artisan businesses means more people are employed, and better opportunities are created, allowing the local economy to thrive.
The Five Product lines of the "Made in Japan" series
Kalita KIRI Coffee Mill
- KIRI coffee mill 1 story: Manual coffee grinder with one drawer for collecting the grinds
- KIRI coffee mill 2 stories: Manual coffee grinder with one collection drawer and a second drawer to act as a stocker
Featured local industry: Kiri Tansu craftsmanship from Kamo City, Niigata prefecture
What is Kiri Tansu?
From the first moment you lay your eyes on Kalita’s KIRI coffee mills, you will know that it is not your average coffee grinder. Instead, it is a living piece of art, reminiscent of a piece of furniture native to Japan, called 'Tansu.' Tansu is a traditional Japanese-style home-storage cabinet with drawers that have been used as early as the Edo period. One of the most popular woods for making the Tansu is ‘Kiri’ or Paulownia wood. Kalita’s manual coffee mill from the ‘Made in Japan’ series features this amazing craft of ‘Kiri Tansu’ or Pawlounia chest cabinet making.
Kiri Coffee Mills are made in the city of Kiri Tansu
The Kiri Tansu craft’s origin is the beautiful Kamo city of Niigata prefecture, which is the biggest producer of Kiri Tansu in Japan, accounting for more than 70% of the national Kiri Tansu production. This city has many artisan Kiri Tansu makers and a long history of working with Kiri (Paulownia wood) for more than 220 years! One such artisan Kiri Tansu maker is Nomoto Kiriko Seisakusho Co., Ltd.. In this company, many highly skilled and talented artisan artisans with decades-long experience pour their passion and energy into creating Kalita’s KIRI coffee mills.
A design that reflects the beauty of traditional Tansu
The design of the carefully planned out coffee mills highlights the features of Kiri Tansu, such as the smooth, perfectly finished surfaces, shining black metal fittings, and the drawers that are made to move in and out effortlessly. The drawers have to be cut with exact measurements, accurate to millimeters, and according to one of the craftsmen, it is ‘more about human instinct that comes from the heart of the artisan rather than technology”.
Why is Kiri (paulownia wood) so suitable for constructing a coffee mill?
Not only is Japanese Kiri wood rich in history, but it also has many practical benefits too.
- Kiri wood is sensitive to humidity and can keep the moisture content inside the drawer constant. This is an excellent advantage as a coffee mill as it will minimize air humidity on the coffee grinds and keep it fresh for a longer time.
- It has an exceptionally high strength-to-weight ratio, which means it is very lightweight and portable but at the same time offers a lot of strength and durability.
- Kiri wood contains a natural component called Tannin, which acts as an insect repellent and keeps domestic pests away.
Serial number and logo-inscribed sticker reflecting the love put into each coffee mill
Each Kiri coffee mill proudly carries a sticker with a unique serial number and the emblem of the Paulownia flower. This serial number can only be used by makers belonging to 'Kamo City Tansu Makers Cooperative.'
The Paulownia flower emblem is a special symbol that is even used as the Government Seal of Japan. On the coffee mills, it represents the deep connection the product has with the Japanese culture and aesthetics.
Kalita HASAMI ceramic ware
Product Line up
- HASAMI 155 ceramic dripper: Kalita wave dripper for 1-2 servings
- HASAMI 185 ceramic dripper: Kalita wave dripper for 2-4 servings
- HASAMI 101 ceramic dripper: Kalita classic style dripper for 1-2 servings
- HASAMI 102 ceramic dripper: Kalita classic style dripper for 2-4 servings
- HASAMI Coffee Pot S: Coffee pot with 600 ml capacity
- HASAMI Coffee Pot: Coffee pot with 700ml capacity
- HASAMI coffee measuring cup: Measuring cup/spoon that can hold 10g of coffee
Featured local industry: Hasami Porcelain Crafts from Hasami town, Nagasaki Prefecture
The origin of Kalita HASAMI products – the historic pottery village of Hasami
Hasami ceramic ware craft industry was born in the village of Hasami in Nagasaki prefecture more than 400 years during the Azuchi-Momoyama period. More than 40% of the village’s population is engaged in the Hasami ceramic industry, and the village scenery is dotted with the tall chimneys of the 'ascending kiln.' In the past, ceramic ware was a luxury item reserved only for the aristocrats, until Hasami town, through its efficient production of ceramic ware, made it accessible to the general public, and ceramic became a part of the common household.
It might seem like one person makes the ceramic ware from start to finish, but in the town of HASAMI, things are done in a unique way. Every step of the ceramic ware production, such as mold-making, mixing raw materials, maintaining the kiln, baking the ceramic, and adding the finishing touch, is done by individual establishments specializing in that particular step of the process. In other words, the entire town is working on the pottery by division of labor. This highly efficient process attracted Kalita to the town of HASAMI to collaborate on the Made in Japan project.
A notable ceramic ware artisan company from the town of Hasami is Hama Pottery Co. Ltd., founded in 1918. Kalita’s HASAMI products are made in close collaboration with this company. The HASAMI brand was created by this very company about ten years ago, a brand that made ceramic ware attractive to the younger generations through its contemporary designs. According to Mr. Kuroita of the HASAMI brand, who is also the coordinator of the Kalita-HASAMI collaboration project,
“Our motto is to make products that remain in people’s memories rather than in records on paper. We strive to create ceramicware that meets the needs of the modern times and is relevant in terms of design, function, and quality."
Artisan hands and advanced technology come together to create the HASAMI Kalita wave drippers
The mold of the HASAMI drippers is made with highly advanced 3D digital design technology at Nagasaki Ceramics Technical Support Center. This ensures that the Kalita wave diagonal ribbings for excellent coffee extraction, the feature beloved by Kalita fans, are present in the final product without a single error. The artisans use this mold at the Hasami town kilns to build the ceramic drippers.
The highest quality Amakusa pottery stone is used to make the HASAMI products, which gives them a pure angelic white color with a bluish nuance. The base of the dripper is made to be so slim that if you shine a light through the ceramic, it appears almost transparent. The small details at the base of the dripper ensure excellent coffee brewing. Along with the signature three extraction holes, the base of the dripper has the words "HASAMI" and "Made in Japan" etched on it.
Kalita Tsubame Metalware
- Tsubame Kalita 155 Wave dripper (Copper/Steel): Kalita wave dripper for 1-2 servings.
- Tsubame Kalita 185 Wave dripper (Copper/Steel): Kalita wave dripper for 2-4 servings.
- Tsubame Kalita Drip pot Slim (Copper/Steel): Drip pot with 700 ml capacity. Available with or without a wooden handle
- Tsubame Kalita coffee measuring spoons: Several different types of 10g capacity measuring spoons are available. The spoons vary in the length and design of the handle, type of metal (copper, stainless steel, etc.), finishing (matt, bronze, enamel, etc.)
Featured local industry: Metalwork from Tsubame city, Niigata prefecture
What inspired Kalita to work with Tsubame?
Tsubame City of Niigata prefecture has a long history of working with metals. Tsubame city transformed from a rice farming agricultural village to a metalworking town to save the economy from recurrent floods during the Edo period. Today, the city accounts for more than 90% of metal tableware production in Japan.
In 2003, Tsubame city gained widespread global recognition when it incorporated advanced polishing technology and metal polishing artisan specialists into its industry.
The ‘Made in Tsubame' brand was established in 2008. For a product to be included within this brand, 50% of the product's parts have to be made within Tsubame city. It is a strict condition to abide by, but it ensures that quality and design standards are not compromised.
The history, technology, and the spirit of Tsubame’s metalworking industry-inspired Kalita to collaborate with the ‘Made in Tsubame’ brand and create a product line of beautiful metal coffee equipment. Mr. Hiroki Takahashi, representative director of Takahiro Co. Ltd, a metal tableware maker from Tsubame city, volunteered to oversee the Tsubame-Kalita project.
What is so special about Tsubame-Kalita products?
The metal drippers are made at Tanabe Metal Fittings Co., Ltd. by using advanced metal-pressing machines that highly experienced artisans operate. Metalwork might not seem like it, but it is a very delicate process requiring expert knowledge and artistic intuition. Once the metal is pressed into the shape of the dripper's mold, the next stage of polishing the dripper is done by hand. Finally, every inch of the dripper is polished to a glossy finish without any uneven surfaces by Tsubame city’s polishing experts. The ‘Made in Tsubame' mark and the Tsubame logo, which is a motif based on the Kanji character for Tsubame, are exquisitely engraved into the products.
Kalita Oak Village
- Waterdrop shape dripper set: Glass Kalita wave dripper, glass collecting jug, wooden dripper holder, and tray
- Square-shaped dripper set: Glass Kalita wave dripper, glass server, wooden dripper holder
- Stand dripper set: Glass Kalita wave dripper and server, wooden stand to hold the entire set
Featured local industry: Forestry and non-standard Hard-wood recycling project, Neo Village, Gifu prefecture
Oak village - A project to treasure the Neo forest woods and to bring local forestry businesses together
The trees of Neo forest in Motosu region, Gifu prefecture, take as many as a hundred years to grow to full maturity. However, many trees from this area are not used as wood but are turned into paper pulp or fuel instead if they do not have a 'standard' straight shape. This is a great waste of forest resources as these trees could have been used to craft beautiful woodwork.
To stop this wastage and to give the forest the respect it deserves, three local companies, including Oak village Co. Ltd. that are closely involved in the different sectors of the forestry industry, came together to create the "Neo Forest Hard Wood Utilization Project."
Thanks to this project, trees from the Neo forest can be used to make beautiful wood-themed products such as Kalita’s Oak village series.
Kalita’s Oak village series brings people, forest, trees, and coffee together
The coffee brewing equipment of this series is made from trees such as Japanese cherry birch and beech trees grown in the Neo forest. These woods are the best choice for creating a warm and organic texture to the human touch. The wooden surface has a robust, rustic finish, so the more you use it, the more personal the tools become.
The coffee equipment in this series includes outdoor sets so coffee lovers can take these brewing tools with them into nature and enjoy freshly brewed coffee while camping in the wilderness, feeling a deep connection to forests, trees, and the earth. It has also been designed in shapes such as water-drop shape and stable squares so that they can be used outdoors with maximum ease, durability, and portability. The sturdiness of the Oak village series reflect the spirit of Oak village, which is
“Trees that took 100 years to grow should be made into tools that can be used for 100 years.”
Kalita Next Generation (Next G) Electric Coffee grinders
- Next G2 (available in green and blue colors)
- High cut mill (available in horizontal and vertical designs)
- Power cut mill
- Clean cut mill (A version specialized for Espresso grind is available)
- New Cut mill ( A version with a clip for securing the bean bag is also available)
- KDM-300GR grinder
Kalita’s original series: Next Generation coffee grinders
The coffee grinders of Kalita’s original grinder series 'Next G' result from all the knowledge and technology Kalita has accumulated since 1959. The ideas and inspiration for Kalita’s original grinders come from Yokohama City, Kanagawa prefecture, where Kalita’s head office is located. Yokohama city has been a vibrant, energetic, and industrial city from the Meiji era, always pushing the limits to bring about innovation and improvement.
The advanced technology of Next G grinders make them powerful industrial grinders that are perfect for professional settings; however, their ease of use and maintenance make them suitable for being used by non-professionals. Below are some of the reasons what make Next-G grinders stand apart from the rest.
- Scattering of coffee grinds is prevented by 'Static Eliminator.' The coffee powder flows straight down, creating a beautiful peek at the collection point without being stuck to the grinder body or the surroundings.
- The grind size consistency and uniformity have been improved dramatically. Also, the heat production due to friction of the blades has been reduced, minimizing the loss of flavor from the beans.
- The Next G grinders operate at unrivaled quietness; the noise level has been reduced by 65%, which is an incredible achievement for an industrial grinder.
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*Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission.
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