Friday, 04 January 2019 11:33

Coffee shops of the future

    Coffee shops around the world have been criticised for all looking the same. Dark hues, exposed bricks, upcycled wood, Edison lightbulbs, cacti and copper accents. What was once seen as a contemporary homage to the rise of Starbucks and Silicon Valley, is now considered a mere symbol of conformity to millennial capitalism.

    As we propel towards 2019, it’s time for interior designers in this industry to wake up and smell the coffee. In order to stand out in a growingly saturated industry, coffee shops must have a distinctive design to encourage return customers and geo-tags on Instagram stories.

    Here Gavin Dow, Managing Director and Founder of Coffee Central – supplier of speciality coffee beans and coffee-making equipment – discusses the interior design trends of 2019 that will shape the coffee shops of the future – no matter the size, shape or style. Stadium seating

    Stadium seating

    formally known as kivas, will be the pinnacle of progressive chic in 2019. What was once associated with schools and stadia is now a symbol of effortlessly cool collaboration and socialising. Intelligentsia’s Venice Coffeebar on Abbot Kinney Boulevard champions their stadium seatings’ functionality to remove traditional barriers between their customers and baristas.

    You could argue that the driving force behind this trend is the increasing gentrification of neighbourhoods that are awash with trendy tech startups. There are many examples of high-end coworking spaces and offices whose stadium seating facilitates collaboration and innovative ideas. Arguably, as coffee shops come hand in hand with the economic output of a city, it makes financial sense to incorporate such trends into their interior design to encourage people to work in isolation or with their colleagues there.

    Great things come in small packages

    As the cost of commercial rent continues to soar, the saying ‘go big or go home’ is so 2018. Instead, expect to see new coffee shops inhabiting compact spaces such as shipping containers or the nooks and crannies of the high street.

    Noorderparkbar Grand Cafe in north Amsterdam is not your typical coffee shop fixture with its location at a local swimming pool. The coffee shop is structured solely from repurposed materials from Marktplaats – a Dutch eBay equivalent and three former temporary hospital units. The distinctive oversized wood shutters were made from wood collected from a bankrupt formwork factory, where design firms Bureau-SLA and Overtreders used ancient Japanese technique shou sugi ban (wood charring) to increase their durability.

    Coffee Lab, another example, occupies an 18ft2 display window in downtown Toronto. Though they only have room for the equipment and one barista, they are able to secure a steady flow of nearby office worker customers who place orders in advance and pick up when ready.

    Go green or go home

    Perhaps as an embodiment of the growing concern for climate change, but we will be seeing green in 2019 – both in colour and foliage. Charming little cacti on windowsills won’t cut it in the new year. Avant-garde coffee shops are going the extra mile to create unforgettable visits and increased footfall.

    Take heed of Devocion in downtown Brooklyn. To reinforce their heritage, the coffee shop hosts 35 different plant varieties including mango, fishtail palm and starfruit trees. Customers are submerged in a lush, Colombian jungle whilst they sip their flat whites.


    These are just the starting points of emerging coffee shop design trends to consider as we go into the new year. However, they should be enough to inspire coffee shop owners to branch out from the centralised Starbucks aesthetic. If you want to increase footfall into a coffee shop, unique design is integral when the modern-day consumer is incentivised by locations that they can share on Instagram.

    When making interior choices, coffee shops must also consider their brand image and business functionality. Don’t paint all your walls neo-mint if they don’t complement your brand colours. Explore the options and utilise what you already have too. Does your team have the capacity to water and maintain a plethora of real plants when it might be easier to go artificial? Going into the new year, ensure that any decorative upheaval efforts will complement your coffee shop’s activity.

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