Teen prodigy brews special coffee in Monaco this week

Hibiki Iwano of Horizon Lab making coffee at Castelroc. Photo: Monaco Life
Hibiki Iwano of Horizon Lab making coffee at Castelroc. Photo: Monaco Life

Hibiki Iwano is not your average teenager. Named by Tokyo Weekender as one of “Japan’s Astounding Teen Prodigies”, Hibiki launched his own coffee business – Horizon Labo – in April 2017 at the age of 15.

What makes the young entrepreneur’s story more extraordinary is that after years of struggling at school – from an inability to keep up with the rest of the class to not being able go to the bathroom alone – he was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome at the age of 8.

Hibiki Iwano with his mom at Castelroc. Photo: Monaco Life
Hibiki Iwano with his mom at Castelroc. Photo: Monaco Life

By 13, he had quit school where he didn’t connect with other students and within two years, turned his focus to a fascination with coffee and the roasting process, starting with a small 1kg coffee roaster.

“I realised the infinity of flavours there are to discover in coffee … I really like that part … that there’s no end,” Hibiki told Good Coffee.

With the support of his parents, the teen opened Horizon Labo in Gunma Prefecture, but with crowds becoming larger and larger, the family decided to temporarily close the café as to not disturb neighbours. Hibiki continues to sell his coffee beans online.

Hibiki Iwano in Monaco. Photo: Facebook Ripple Yōhinten
Hibiki Iwano in Monaco. Photo: Facebook Ripple Yōhinten

Hibiki is currently visiting Monaco with his parents and offering a free tasting of his coffee this Friday, at 10:30 am, at Castelroc restaurant.

“I had a hard time copying words written on the board, and there were many things I couldn’t do that brought me down,” he told Tokyo Weekender. “I wanted to focus on what I could do with my own working style. I found that roasting coffee was the ideal way of expressing myself.”

Hibiki Iwano of Horizon Lab. Photo: Monaco Life
Sampling Horizon Lab coffee at Castelroc. Photo: Monaco Life

Follow Hibiki Iwano on Instagram: horizon_labo. Article first published on February 14, 2018.


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