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“Most people know China is a tea country, so they’re definitely surprised by China-grown coffee,” says Joe (Wenbo) Yang, co-owner of SuperJoy Coffee Lab and Roasters. Since the 1999 introduction of Starbucks to Beijing, China’s younger generations have propelled a rapidly rising coffee culture–so much so that homegrown coffee production has taken root. “It’s an up-and-coming origin,” says SuperJoy co-owner Topher Ou. “When I first had Yunnan coffee in NYC a couple years ago, it was just OK. The improvement in quality has been significant.”

Yang, an award-winning roaster who grew up in Hefei, China, moved to Portland, Oregon, in 2016. Two years later, he opened In J Coffee, recently relaunched as SuperJoy with Ou, following a chance meeting between the two at a coffee competition several years ago. Ou, a champion barista, originally intended to return to China to open a café, but the pandemic hit and the New York-based coffee pro relocated to Portland to add his expertise to SuperJoy. The pair’s overhaul added bright nods to Chinese culture throughout the space and branding.

Last spring, Yang and Ou introduced a second café, SuperJoy Coffee Lab. There, they roast beans and trial drinks that balance coffee’s flavor spectrum with common Chinese ingredients. Think: a sweet osmanthus latte and Chinese pepper mocha.

The duo has prioritized sourcing green coffees from China (predominantly Yunnan) and Ethiopia. “Ethiopia is the best coffee region in my mind, and China is my homeland,” Yang says. Adds Ou, “Our Yunnan is a natural process coffee that has rich berry, wine-y and chocolaty tasting notes. It has a unique earthy flavor which I believe is due to the soil and growing conditions, so it is easily distinguished from other naturals on a cupping table.”

The idea is simple: Open customer palates to new coffee experiences and cultures, spread joy. “In my opinion, coffee is like a bridge: connecting people and also connecting to flavor,” says Yang. Approaching the shop’s one-year anniversary next month, growth is the goal. “We’re hoping to start by making this place a great corner coffee shop with a positive relationship with our customers, neighbors, and community,” Ou says. “To get there, we’re going to just keep roasting, grinding, and brewing the finest coffees we can; if what we do is inspiring to others, so much the better!”

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