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Photo / Karen Ishiguro

Mizu Bread & Acho's Are Two Eateries Serving Up A Taste Of Japan In Tamaki Makaurau

Taking a break with Suntory BOSS Coffee, two local business owners explain the energy that drives them

Suntory BOSS Coffee is synonymous with the character, convenience, and buzz of Japan. It’s an energy that can be found in Tamaki Makaurau too, with a handful of driven locals shaping businesses with a distinctive vision that blends the culture of both countries. Enterprises like Public Record, Wonder Journal and Yarn NZ, whose founders are busy, bossing it, and committed to their chosen field  — likewise Acho's and Mizu Bread, who are each bringing unique aspects of Japanese food and drink culture to the local hospitality industry.

They all also share fond memories of Suntory BOSS Coffee; an urban icon in Japan, it has an avid fan base in Aotearoa too (maybe it’s that no-fuss delivery and premium taste) and its cans can be found throughout Auckland, making it a staple of urban life for the myriad of different professions that make up the humming city.

READ: Public Record & Wonder Journal Are Two Stores Melding Japanese and New Zealand Creativity

From places to pick up a Suntory BOSS Coffee, to places that have that unique urban energy, we've been popping into some of our must-visit locations in the central city — like Yuko and Aomi Segawa's charming Eden Tce eatery Mizu Bread, and the lively spot created by Tomoko Tokuhiro and Noboru Fujikawa at Karangahape Rd establishment Acho's. We caught up with them all to find out about their attitude to business, what they love about Aotearoa and Japan, and what makes Suntory BOSS Coffee so iconic.

 

TOMOKO TOKUHIRO, ACHO’S BAR & EATERY, 309 KARANGAHAPE ROAD

Acho's Tomoko Tokuhiro and Noboru Fujikawa. Photo / Karen Ishiguro

What can people expect from Acho’s?
We are a Japanese tapas bar; less than an Izakaya, more than a bar — not a restaurant, not a bar. We have plenty of Japanese beverage selections, also small bite dishes as well. Acho’s is a place you can be yourself. You will have new experiences at Acho’s.

How do you find the energy to boss your day?
Because of our customers. Their smiles and their joy make us motivated. We work seven days a week, 14 hours a day. Our customers give us power and energy every day.

Are you a big coffee drinker yourself?
I used to drink a lot when I worked in Japan. Now I have one or two per day.

Why are canned alternatives like Suntory BOSS Coffee so big in Japan?
Because Japan is such a busy country. They don’t have time to go to cafes to have a cup of coffee. We can buy canned coffee anytime anywhere in Japan, and can drink it anywhere — it’s very convenient. I think that’s why canned coffee culture is famous, and the quality is so high.

Why did you decide to open in K’Road Food Workshop?
Karangahape Road is a fair place. People don’t judge colour, sex, religion, where you’re from, what you do. Everyone is treated as a human. We want to make that kind of place; no one is a stranger or minority at our place. If customers love us, we love them.

Acho's Tomoko Tokuhiro and Noboru Fujikawa. Photo / Karen Ishiguro

What do you appreciate about Japanese cities?
Japanese people care and respect other people. For example, why is Japan so clean and tidy? Because we think about the people who do the cleaning for us, even if we don’t know who they are.

Are there any specific elements of Japanese culture and thinking that are part of your business?
Hospitality — being warm and welcoming, and relaxed like visiting grandma’s house.

What about New Zealand culture, how does that influence your business?
Staff and customers are even, on the same stage, and can be friends. Staff can enjoy being with customers. It is a great culture!

What do you find most rewarding about your business?
Our customers! Coming to Acho’s is their life routine. We are close to our customers — many of our customers say Acho’s is their second home.

Where would be your favourite place to take a break and enjoy a Suntory BOSS Coffee?
At a park under blue sky.

And you have Suntory BOSS Coffee on the cocktail menu at Acho’s for a limited time?
Yes! There’s the Tokyo Fizz (Suntory BOSS Coffee Long Black, brown sugar plum wine, Pepsi and dark beer) and the Kyoto Twist (Suntory BOSS Coffee Iced Latte with green tea liqueur) available until the end of September.

Acho's / Karen Ishiguro

 

YUKO SEGAWA & AOMI SEGAWA, MIZU BREAD, 187 SYMONDS STREET, EDEN TERRACE

Mizu Bread's Yuko Segawa and Aomi Segawa. Photo / Karen Ishiguro

For those readers who haven’t been to Mizu could you tell them what it is like?
Mizu Bread is a Japanese bakery cafe in Eden Terrace, Auckland. We started as a pop-up bakery two years ago with the keywords “natural”, “rustic” and “warm”. We hope at Mizu Bread we can share a little bit of Japanese bread and eatery culture while refining the original recipes in our hands.

Are there any specific elements of Japanese culture that are part of your business?
One of our missions as Mizu Bread is introducing more of Japanese cuisine culture to Auckland. Not only the basics like miso paste or soy sauce, we explore Japanese ingredients rather rare to find in Auckland cafes and restaurants. If you have no idea what “Iburigakko” or “Yuzu Kosho” are, then I’d recommend trying them here!

Could you tell us about your Japanese heritage? What does it mean to you?
When it comes to artisans, I think many of us share the ethos that quality is the last thing we should compromise with, and we also follow this view at Mizu Bread.

Do you have any memories of Suntory Boss Coffee from your time in Japan?
Before moving to New Zealand, we were running a bakery in Nagano, a city famous for skiing and winter sports. In winter, we often got a warm Suntory BOSS Coffee from a vending machine to warm ourselves, and that’s how we survive the harsh winter there. Compared to Nagano, Auckland weather feels like heaven!

Photo / Karen Ishiguro

Are there any perceptions or traditions about Japanese culture that you want to challenge or do differently?
I believe many Japanese people have trouble being true to themselves because of the social image and restraints, and that’s something they can learn a lot about from New Zealand.

Do you have any advice for those out there wanting to be their own boss and start up their own business?
My personal advice would be building up good relationships with the people you will be closely working with, and be clear with the message you want to share with your products and services.

How do you juggle all your work responsibilities, stay organised, and have balance?
We are still trying to figure out how to balance everything, but being a family business helped us a lot through our first year. All of our team members stay flexible and support each other, and to us that’s the most important value for a small business like ours.

What do you love about your spot in the city?
We love Eden Terrace. Being close to the city centre, Mizu Bread can be a good lunch option for the office workers in the city while we enjoy the interactions with local people. There is a strong sense of being a part of the community here and it’s amazing.

Where would be your favourite place to take a break and enjoy a Suntory BOSS Coffee?
Our favourite place will be right in the kitchen, sipping while looking at the roadside trees through the windows.

 

BEHIND SUNTORY BOSS COFFEE

Famously the number one canned coffee in Japan* Suntory BOSS Coffee launched in 1992 when the heritage company perfected ready-to-drink coffee with “flash brew” method, and put it in a can to make that caffeine hit even more convenient — especially when navigating the country’s many commuter-friendly cities.

Found at konbini (convenience stores) and from the vending machines that can be found on nearly every corner in Japan, the cult range came to Aotearoa a couple of years ago, and was embraced by New Zealanders, who have a mutual appreciation for innovative, fuss-free ideas (and great coffee).

It's available around the country, and is an apt companion for work and leisure alike.

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