Archives for posts with tag: Vintage

An interesting look at coffee shop life back in 1959.

It’s a look at the SOHO bohemian coffee bars of London.


While browsing some pages online, I suddenly decided to look for a site listing “coffee shops in the UK“.

I found these two places : &

I could then start looking at reviews and images…way quicker that catching the train. And if there is something appealing, it would be the occasion for a long weekend dedicated to coffee.

After a few minutes, something obvious appeared before my eyes. A lot (but not all) coffee shops/bar want to be unique but in fact are very similar.

What does this mean? Maybe a few questions could be asked?

There is this kind of trend which can be found in most new shops – a feeling of old/vintage with used floorboards and reclaimed railway sleepers (either for the seats, tables or counters).

Cakes (names and ingredients are hand written) are usually on display on some kind of chopping boards or even slates – without any glass/protection from customers’ germs…which can be a kind of hygiene issue?!

Pain au Chocolat

Pastries and cakesNot to forget… the traditional menu board (for food and/or drinks)!

Menu Board

Cups are rarely white these days, but more caramel colour or bleu azur, giving even more beauty and contrast to the drink.

cups and saucers bleu azurSo, why are coffee shop owners innovative in regards of their coffee beans, equipment, milk but the actual décor is just a copycat?! Do coffee drinkers really want to feel “at home” even when they enter new premises? Is déja-vu the norm these days?

Remember a few years back when all High Street chains were trying to sell us “good and fresh coffee” a couple of sofas had to be there… the lounge feeling would push people to stay longer and get another cake with their grande mochaccino!!!

Nowadays it is as if, having (almost) uncomfortable seats and small tables but great coffee is not an issue, because people are after the rustic experience:

  • carefully sourced coffee at the other side of the planet,
  • local farm supplying the milk,
  • homemade cakes,

and the rest doesn’t actually matter.

But wouldn’t it be great to go for a flat white in a really “special” environment – something to remember on top of the extremely good drink and barista skills?!

I am sure you know what I mean, don’t you?

Right, let’s say a shop with something different and giving a good flow for the visitors; whether it is to drink-in or take-away… It doesn’t have to look über-posh. What is important is to think of the layout depending on the floor space. The way the service happens is the first thing to study and then after this tables/chairs/stools can be implemented. Thinking outside the box is important.

As an example, Rapha coffee shop in London has something unusual: a bicycle rack, so you can leave your bike while trying some clothes or having a brew.

Of course, the espresso machine and the other brewing methods need to find their place too…but once the essential is there, the rest will follow intuitively. We could almost compare it with buying a bicycle.


First, it is about getting the dream bike then buying all accessories such as:

  • helmet,
  • multi tool,
  • D-lock,
  • waterproof jacket…etc,

there is a logic to follow and life will be smooth as velvet.

Cycling tools and accessories infographicView larger version HERE