Yugen International

The (picto)story behind my journey through coffee.

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In 2018, I started a Coffee Import and Roasting business in Tokyo. But let's back that up a bit.

(Yugen Logo, designed by yours truly)

I graduated from The United States Naval Academy in 2012 and was sent to my first duty station of Little Creek, VA as a Naval Officer. 

(Pops and I at graduation)

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After completing my first tour,  I was shipped off to my second duty station of Yokosuka, Japan in 2014. (Photo taken before a night out with friends from France and Ukraine).

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My house had a river in the backyard with Koi fish just kicking it on the reg. I had an herb and veggie garden in that backyard too (DM for pics).

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And there was a beach within a 5 minute walk!

(Zushi Beach).

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I did some cool things in Japan.

(With my girl Agguretsuko).

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Met some cool people. (Yeah, yeah, yeah, issa me).

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But my time in the Navy was coming to a close.

(Momma Dukes and I in Kyoto).

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As I prepared to say goodbye to Japan

(and Death Tequila) I realized I really didn't know what was next for me. (Yabee)

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What I did know was that I loved drinking delicious, carefully cultivated, regally roasted specialty coffee. (Neighborhood Coffee Shop)

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So I moved to Costa Rica to learn more about coffee and my roots. (Pura Vida Mae)

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I went to a lot of coffee farms.

(Coffee farm located  in Tarrazu, Costa Rica).

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And met a lot of coffee people. 

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I went to some coffee festivals.

(Coffee festivals in San Jose and Tarrazu).

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No doubt I was learning a lot.

(Coffee cherry and extracted bean)

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But...studying coffee didn't pay the bills.

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So I got a job as a manager for a specialty coffee shop in San Jose, Costa Rica.

(Crew from left to right, Nela, Jose, Me, Monica, Enrique, Cindy, Ariel).

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I pulled some espresso shots.

(You can see my face in the picture on the right).

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Roasted some coffee. Did some television shows.

You could say I was becoming "intimate with the bean," which was no doubt lovely... The only problem was... I was starting to miss Japan.

So I moved back to Tokyo and opened up a Roastery. (Photo taken by Jonathan Peterson, classmate and photography mentor of mine)

Some parts of building a brand were challenging, some parts were delightful. The logo design was probably the most exciting part.

Now that I think about it, designing the apparel may have been the most exciting part.

Or was it the roasting? (and everything else)

(Bancroft Blend from sketch to design.)

(Yugen Promos)

Yugen Coffee Promo

(Yugen Promos)

One part that was quite memorably very much so not fun, at all, was the Japanese registration portion.

Talk about a full months worth of headaches.

(My name is there on the bottom right)

But as much fun as roasting coffee at Yugen was, my bills were doubly as "fun" and needed more attention.

(Apron was a lil' small)

So I got a job as a barista in a Harajuku coffee shop and met A LOT of really amazing people in the Tokyo coffee world.

(I know, i know...the goatee. Not sure why)

(Left: Swiss Coffee Owners, Right: Zin, Japanese singer and barista {he's on Spotify})

(Left: Kamakura Barista, Right: Me trying to remain professional during a humorous )

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(The Crew at The Roastery in Harajuku and Ebisu).

Unfortunately I decided that ballin' on a budget could be strenuous at 30...so I cried, sold my roaster, and flew to DC for UX Design, never to touch coffee again.

(Me ballin in Tokyo and some freelance modeling work on the right for Canterbury)

...For now. (One of my earlier attempts at Illustrator)