Written by Sophie Chan @ Coffee Daily
Translated by Joel Wong
Photos by Sophie Chan @ Coffee Daily、Black Sugar Coffee、Artista Perfectto HK、PMQ
The property price of Hong Kong has always been scarce and expensive, but it has created the aspiration and need for mini cafe. There are several types of mini cafe, such as café with only a small number of seats, stand-up drinking café or take-outs only café. However, such constraint of space has stimulated many café managers' creativity – they decided to utilize the limited resources and allow people to focus their attention on the coffee itself.
Maximum interaction at a finite space
Last year, William (owner of Black Sugar Coffee) and Bong (Design Principal of Littleurbanmountain Design Ltd.) to co-host one of the talks in PMQ Coffee Agenda Go Live. The dialogue was started with the collaboration of the two – Black Sugar Coffee in Central.
The coffee shop is merely 80 square feet, which is too small even by Hong Kong standards, where the shop still needs to place a fully equipped bar table, menus, merchandise, and storage, where such confined space can still retain the interaction between the guests and baristas. Such spatial arrangement puts the designer's ability into a real challenge The most impressive and customer favorite part must be the Magic Box-like front door. When fully opened, the door serves as wall space for displaying retail products and menus, allowing a small shop's space to be effectively extended.
Black Sugar Coffee
As the barista’s bar is very close to the customers, allowing them to focus on the process of brewing while chatting with the barista at the same time. It has become point of connection between people and formed a community, which is what a café is meant to be.
Another feature of Black Sugar Coffee in Central is the interaction and communication between the barista and customers. As the barista’s bar is very close to the customers, allowing them to focus on the process of brewing while chatting with the barista at the same time. Eventually, it has become a point of connection between people and formed a community, this is what café is meant to be.
About local and overseas mini cafés
Although the emergence of mini cafés is due to rent and space constraints to a certain extent, but at the same time, many café owners have taken advantage of such characteristics and deliberately selected some special “mini spaces” to bringing the customers and baristas together.
Let’s take a look at a café in Tokyo. Japan, Koffee Mameya, as mentioned by William during the talk, is a coffee shop that is converted from an old house. After passing through a small courtyard, it is already the “space” of the café. There are no benches or chairs, only a barista’s bar with all the machines and equipment hid under the counter.
The barista puts the equipment on the bar table only when he or she is brewing, and the coffee beans are placed in the cabinet right behind the barista. The design concept is to stage the barista as the protagonist. There is nothing else to distract the guests, making it easier for them to focus on the brewing and communicating with the barista.
The design concept is to stage the barista as the protagonist. There is nothing else to distract the guests, making it easier for them to focus on the brewing and communicating with the barista.
Another café in Hong Kong, Artista Perfetto, also looks like a mini café in my mind. There are only two benches and a few stools inside the shop’s finite space. No matter where the guests are sitting, their focus will be in the barista's direction, as if he or she is on a stage performing. The friendly barista chats with the guests from time to time. This kind of conversation is easier to start in a mini café.
The friendly barista chats with the guests from time to time. This kind of conversation is easier to start in a mini café.
The Beauty of Mini Café
Whether it is intentional or limited by geographical and rent issues, a mini café still has its extraordinary charm. As endless choices and fresh information flood our modern life, being at a mini café can bring our focus onto coffee itself for once. If you want to find out more, and you may go to PMQ Coffee Agenda YouTube Channel to check out "Mini Café Design".
PMQ Coffee Agenda Go Live