Basic Coffee: a mini café in Beijing


Set within a co-working hub in Beijing’s newly gentrified commercial zone of XianYuKou, the Basic Coffee café was designed by local Office AIO (Tim Kwan and Isabelle Sun).
The café occupies a 30sqm corner of a restored historic building and was designed with the aim of moving the focus from the “making of” coffee of a regular café to “the enjoyment of” coffee. “This is achieved by a spatial arrangement that inverts the relationship from one that features the fanciest of tools and showmanship of baristas to one aimed at capturing something that is much less tangible – one’s senses.” explains the studio.

The project plays with light and obscurity in order to create a series of “framed views” into the café. “Like a live advertisement, these framed views expose different motions performed by all parties in the cafe,” says the studio. “The suggestiveness in partially concealed acts of indulging in coffee, muffled chatters, and sound and smells of coffee-making, arouse one’s curiosity and appetite.”

This sense of mystery and curiosity is made possible by a concentric spatial organization. In the center, partially hidden by a perforated aluminum screen, there is the coffee-making area. The screen also separate the curved bar and stools revealing a partial view of the seating area. Coffee order takes place at the junction between entry gallery and the large window facing the street, “where the barista is strategically positioned to serve both dine-in and takeaway customers, sculpted as an exaggerated one-point perspective scene”.

Pastel pink, the brand color, add a dreamy and playful side to the café.
All these features of Basic Coffee create a different experience that allows users to experience space through the observation of a series of orchestrated movements and to experience the coffee-drinking by focusing their senses on sounds, olfaction and flavors.

Photography by Yujie Liu.


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