Get Beautiful, Healthy Relaxation at Nagomi NATULURE
Interviewing Hideki KUSUZAWA - CEO of Yamato Co. Ltd. Yumi ARIKAWA - Store Manager of Nagomi NATULURE
Q. What is the concept of your café?
Our greatest hope is for our customers to drink something that is not only delicious, but also healthy. That is why we work with the concept of "beautiful, healthy relaxation". The café's name, Nagomi NATULURE, is coined from the words "natural", "cure", "pure", and "sure".
Nowadays with an increasing number of bottled drinks, there are many beverages that contain additives, chemical flavorings and fragrances. As we would like more people to know the taste and scent of the authentic and include it as part of their lifestyle, we have paid attention to our selection of ingredients.
Q. When did this shop open?
This summer was our 5th anniversary and this is our only directly managed shop. There is a Nagomi NATULURE licensee shop in Nara. We had started out as a retail shop, but we started this café because we wanted to let our customers directly try our products.
Q. What is the item on the menu you most recommend?
“Red Fruit of Venus”, a crimson-colored herbal tea made from a blend of rosehip, hibiscus and orange peel is our most popular and most-recommended item. Rosehip is quite well known, so this is a fail-safe option for most people. In winter, teas with ginger are popular, so are teas that contain Echinacea, an ingredient that helps prevent colds. In summer, mint teas are popular. As you can see, our best sellers change depending on the season. For retail products, “Red Fruit of Venus” is a long-seller. “Brilliance of Venus”, a tea that contains rose petals, is another popular blended tea.
For foods, we serve pancakes and seasonal foods like the omurice we have now. “The Pancake of Venus” is the most popular. It is a rich pancake made with our original pancake mix containing soybean flour, and blended with “Red Fruit of Venus” herbal tea.
Q. Is there anything about the menu that you pay attention to?
We make sure our teas are organic and do not contain additives. For our foods, not all are organic, but we try to obtain ingredients that do not contain additives. Our main selling point is our teas, so we develop our seasonal foods and pancakes to go well with them.
Q. How are the ingredients procured?
For our teas, as we were originally a tea wholesaler, we order all of them directly from the head office. The teas we have are obtained from Japan and many places around the world –Chile, India, Egypt, etc., and our food ingredients are purchased from a few reliable suppliers. We use domestically produced vegetables.
Q. How are the tea blends developed?In general, the tea products are blended by the head office’s development team. For seasonal teas on the café menu, the café occasionally proposes certain blends or teas made with a certain base, and goes through discussions with the head office to create a delicious tea.
Q. How many items are there on the menu?
Right now, we have 20 varieties of straight tea. For mixed drinks, we have 13 cold drinks and 9 hot drinks. As for retail products, there are around 50 to 60. The turnover is high so the number of varieties fluctuates.
Q. Who are your customers?
About 80 to 90 percent of our customers are women, so the herbal teas popular with women sell well by a large margin. There are hotels nearby, so sometimes foreign hotel guests come here for breakfast. Our customer profile changes with the day of the week and time of the day as well. At lunchtime on weekdays, workers from nearby offices will come for a meal, and we have many repeat customers. On weekends, as there is a tourist attraction in nearby Suitengu area, tourists will walk by and step in – mostly first-time customers.
Q. What is your shop’s hospitality like?
Despite our café having a counter service style and not a table service style, our staff will step down from the counter to guide customers on our teas. Many customers are lost on what they should decide because we have such a huge selection. From the same standpoint, staff will inquire after the customer’s preferred tea flavor and taste and accordingly provide suggestions. All staff undergo regular product training on the compositions of different tea blends, the target market each tea is developed for, and the teas recommended for different physical conditions.
Organic Rosehip Blend ‘Red Fruit of Venus’ A visually pleasing tea with tart taste and fruity undertones. The Earl Grey A refreshing cup of tea with a blooming scent of bergamot. Tartary Buckwheat Latte A slightly sweetened latte made with Tartary buckwheat from Hokkaido. The Pancake of Venus A very unique pancake with a dense yet soft texture, its appearance is evidence of its healthy ingredients that include tea and soybean flour. Omurice with demi-glace of mushrooms The omurice is made from brown rice, which makes it chewier than usual. The silky-smooth omelets and mushroom sauce round off this dish in terms of both texture and flavor.