A while back, I came across a small brand on Instagram from Japan called MUNIEQ. Their main product that fascinated me was this small, 3 piece, tripoding, coffee pour over. Very simple in its design and stunningly minimal.
I have always been drawn to the Japanese approach towards outdoor minimalism, now popularized by brands like Snow Peak, among others. It makes sense though, there is an obvious connection with backpacking and the need to minimize weight while bringing only the most necessary items along with you. For myself and I'm sure a few more people, coffee is certainly one of those necessities. For me the process of making coffee, even just one cup, is something I enjoy. The step by step arrangement of equipment, bean selection, grind coarseness, etc. Also aspects that can also be minimized or adjusted depending on personal preference. I love pour over coffee, a slow drip from a rich, bold blend is my ideal way to start a day in the wilderness. Usually accompanied by the quietness before everyone else is up or small talk around a simmering fire about how the crew slept the night before. It is a ritual for me and has contributed to some of the most memorable times I've spent in nature alone and with friends.
Any way to improve this experience or tailor it further to be more unique or enjoyable, I gladly embrace. MUNIEQ's Tetra Drip not only captivates visually, but it also performs perfectly. When I reached out to founder and creator, Shingo we both quickly found commonality in each of our respective brands. Both born out of passion for nature and centered around coffee -- though I do regularly enjoy every other beverage from my camp mug.
This led to a special chance to collaborate and share each of our stories with different followers 4,000 miles apart. Shingo is based in Sapporo in the Hokkaido region of Japan, an area I have had on my list of places to visit for a long time. Both for it's heavy winter snow totals and the deep outdoor connected culture, similar to where I live in the Pacific Northwest. Interestingly enough and to further underscore this collaboration, Sapporo and Portland (Oregon) are sister cities which this year celebrates 60 years. From their website, this connection maintains a "mission of fostering and promoting cross-cultural understanding between the U.S. and Japan, the Portland-Sapporo Sister City Association was founded in 1959" http://www.portland-sapporo.org/
Learning of this and exploring a way to tell this story, Shingo and I communicated and thought it would be a great opportunity to connect and create something special. I sent some questions over to him, asking about the backstory of his brand and a few other things, hopefully you can appreciate his responses and thoughtful answers, as much as I do.
Firstly, can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Where you are from, how long you have lived there?
My name is Shingo. I'm the founder and owner of MUNIEQ. I'm originally from Hokkaido. I worked for a bicycle component maker as an engineer and have lived in Japan and China. I moved back to Hokkaido 3 years ago and am now based in Sapporo.
What makes living in Sapporo a unique experience?
One of the most unique parts of Sapporo life is that the mountain area and downtown are very close, even though it is big city which has nearly 2 million citizens. Further, we have huge amount of snow in winter. While that makes it difficult living here at times on the other hand we really enjoy fresh powder. I believe that Sapporo is the best city in the world to enjoy both snow life and city life.
How did you come up for the idea to start MUNIEQ?
There was no outdoor coffee dripper that I found adequate to use or that lasted very long. In 2014, I found the effectiveness of the triangular structure for fold-flat coffee dripper and started to develop the product. After making some samples and confirming the function, I decided to quit my job and establish MUNIEQ.
What inspires you, whether for running the brand or just living life? What excites you most about MUNIEQ?
Inspiration of new product ideas, the first time I get to test an actual sample and the reaction from users after it's launched.
You like coffee of course, do you have a favorite time of day or way that you enjoy drinking coffee?
I love to drink coffee with a view. A nice view makes coffee more delicious.
Can you talk about what the outdoors culture in Japan is like?
Japanese people have respect for nature. I think that comes from our religious thinking that has been fostered since ancient times. Ocean, mountain, river, forest, stone, soil, air, etc. we believe there are countless gods in every natural thing.
What is something you think the rest of the world can adapt from the Japanese outdoor culture or way of life?
This is difficult question for me to answer. I hope every single person who are interested in it visit Japan and feel it.
Lastly, is there anything else you want people to know about your brand, your life, or your experiences?
I have always wanted to make something that makes people happy and the Tetra Drip is one of those happy results. I will continue making innovative things and hope to see the smiles of outdoor users for a long time.