Eri Kobayashi is many things.
An expat from Japan who moved to Singapore since 2009 when her husband was posted here, she is a loving mother to an 8-year-old, runs her own luxury lifestyle consultancy company.
She also volunteers as a stylist at Dress for Success Singapore during her free time.
Just before you ask how she manages to do it with just 24 hours in a day like the rest of us, get this – she has just launched another new venture, and it has everything to do with her love for coffee.
Tomor Tokyo – Eri’s Coffee Delivery Service
Tomor Tokyo Coffee is an online gourmet Japanese coffee delivery business, and is part of her lifestyle brand, Luxenity.
The latter was started when she chose spending more time with her daughter over going back into the private sector, where she had years of experience in.
“I started my own small consultancy business to introduce the Japanese lifestyle, and work with both individuals and corporates.”
And just like every other busy individual, Eri is fuelled by caffeine – specifically, coffee.
“I like to have it kopi-o kosong,” she chirps.
However, she soon realised that she only really enjoyed her kopi was because it was “part of [her] cultural experience in Singapore”, and likens it to “those maccha ceremony you’d experienced in Japan”.
While I enjoyed visiting and spending time at kopi shops or cafes, I had not come across any black coffee that can rival my decade [of] devotion to some of the Japanese specialty coffee shops or roasters.
“I would rather stay home and brew my own coffee that suits to my palette! I also heard others saying the same.”
She also realised that Singaporeans she met loved the Japanese cafe experience and brews, and while there are a fair share of Japanese cafes here, there weren’t any that deliver coffee beans to their homes.
To her, having the freedom to brew your own coffee in the comfort your home isn’t just more cost-friendly in the long run, it also ties to how “ceremonial” the act of brewing at home is.
“I brew coffee in the morning to start my day, to have a break during work and get refreshed, or when I am thinking about something over a cup of coffee. I also enjoy brewing coffee for my family or when I have guests over to my place. This helps us get closer.”
By delivering coffee beans to your place, I wanted to share not only the good quality coffee but the time you spend at home for yourself, family and friends, or to be productive at workplace.
Coffee Blends Imported Straight From Japan
While Tomor Tokyo Coffee was officially launched in September this year, finalising on the collection of blends took her half a year.
“I [cupped] different blends from the potential roasters and level of roasts so that we carry different type of tastes and notes to best suit our customers. We had joint tasting sessions with cafe owners too.”
Importing her beans straight from her favourite roasters in Japan, she also realised that while some of them had overseas operations, the more private ones have only served Japanese customers.
“One of our partner mentioned that he doesn’t even carry a passport, as he has been roasting the beans after his father almost all of his career without long holidays!”
“That shows how dedicated those Japanese roasters are to their work. That’s why I call them coffee roast ‘meisters’.”
They were always delighted that someone like us can bring their coffee overseas so that more people can try their coffee.
And the love for coffee isn’t simply one way – she reveals that her Singaporean customers love how fragrant and smooth the coffees are.
“Those who weren’t big fans of coffee due to their past experiences of bitter or sourness from other coffees were all surprised at how smooth and easy it is to drink despite its deep roasted colour.”
Already On Their 8th Shipment Of Stocks From Japan
Since inception, Eri reveals that they’re already on their 8th shipment of stocks, and the numbers are set to increase as more get to know about her brand.
For her, marketing is less about simply promoting her blends, but more of getting more Singaporeans to appreciate coffee and the process of brewing it for themselves and their loved ones.
Due to that philosophy, she has conducted, and is planning to do more hands-on events where interested parties can get to learn more about coffee.
“We don’t offer barista or latte art design courses but organise events like tasting different methods of brewing or simply to learn how to brew your coffee.”
“We also organise charitable events so more people will find it worth attending – you get to learn and enjoy your coffee and still do a little good for someone else.”
When asked about how much she invested into her coffee venture, she remains mum, but states that it is “not much”.
“We do not carry much stock anyway so that we can deliver freshly roasted coffee. We initially thought of investing in a roasting machine of our own to cut the delivery time, but at the moment, we appreciate the skill of our partner roasters in Japan over speed.”
But that doesn’t mean that she hasn’t encountered any obstacles yet.
For one, stock control is an issue, especially due to her dedication to bringing customers beans that are “as freshly roasted as possible”.
“We occasionally receive orders for social events or door gifts for corporate events that use up our stock instantly, resulting in asking our other next clients wait for extra few days for fresher beans.”
“However, thanks to our logistics we can minimise this period to a few days [but] our focus on quality is really eating into shipment costs.”
‘Lighting Up’ The Lives Of Singaporeans With Coffee
The name ‘TOMOR’ comes from a Japanese words ‘tomoru’ or ‘tomosu’ which means to enlighten or to light up a light, and a word ‘tomoni’ means together.
“A cup of coffee can be made as easy as mixing a powder with hot water or pressing a button, but it can be appreciated more when you brew it yourself. It could even become a small ritual for your break time.”
“We are visualising an old couple brewing their morning coffee to plan their day, a gentleman pouring his coffee to his friends on Sunday morning get together,[…] a mother bringing a cup of coffee to her child at night before his/her exam, […] a young couple planning for their next holiday over a cup of coffee on Sunday afternoon.”
“This way we are hoping to ‘light a light’ to their lives.”
But for Eri, Tomor Tokyo Coffee is just another way for her to “pay off [her] debt of gratitude to Singaporeans”.
“For me, all the projects that I am involved in Singapore varies, but there is one thing in common; I do things that make both people around me and myself happy.”
For this coffee business, I am doing this more to pay off my ‘debt of gratitude’ to Singaporeans.
“In near future, we are hoping to lighten up people’s life not only in Singapore, but in this region as well.”
Check out Tomor Tokyo Coffee on Facebook, and drop by one of their events to find out more!