Getting to know Noh Chan-Young - Founder of Lowkey Coffee.
What's the story behind Lowkey and how did it all start?
We are a specialty coffee roastery located in Seoul, Korea. Our journey began in 2010 when we started roasting and retailing coffee under the name Coffeejumbbang. In 2016, we rebranded to Lowkey and currently operate five coffee shops. "Coffee Jumbbang" translates to "small local shop" in a local dialect, while "Lowkey" denotes a quiet and easygoing nature. Intriguingly, the essence of both names is quite similar. Our mission is to maintain simplicity and authenticity in our operations. We remain committed to our values, always striving for honesty and truthfulness while emphasizing the quality of our coffee.
Can you share more about Lowkey’s approach to sourcing and roasting coffee?
The most crucial factors when we select our coffee are cleanliness and sweetness, as they reflect the farmer's diligent efforts. Sweetness in coffee can only be achieved when ripe coffee cherries are picked. Moreover, the beans must be clean and transparent, a result of being treated correctly throughout the entire processing phase. One of the best ways to acknowledge the farmer's hard work is to purchase these coffees and introduce them to our customers.
What motivated Lowkey to explore putting your coffees into the capsule coffee format?
To promote high-quality coffee, it's essential for more people to experience it. To achieve this, the extraction method must be user-friendly. A testament to this idea is giving my parents a try: while they've never opted for pour-over coffee, they readily press a button to get their brew (hence, capsules). Capsules clearly offer a simple solution and an effective means of broadening our reach.
We all have our morning routines, and coffee is often a crucial part of it. What is your morning ritual like?
When I arrive at work, I craft my first latte—complete with latte art—and place it on the table. It's my personal ritual to offer the first brew of the day to God.
What are some future plans for Lowkey Coffee that you are most excited about?
We've recently collaborated with PnB Bakery, a family-run business that opened its doors in 1951 and is now in its third generation. Together, we've launched a mocha pie. I'm eagerly anticipating the outcomes of this collaboration with a brand that has such a rich history.
Last year, I had the opportunity to meet a dedicated coffee producer and missionary in Uganda. They are tirelessly working to empower Ugandans to become self-sufficient. Building on last year's foundation, I'm excited to further contribute to the development of Ugandan coffee this year. Our plan is to educate them on processing techniques, cupping practices, and foster communication within the team.