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Creating a Cafe: Designing the space

By Sophia Carlini 25 February 2016 20

A few weeks ago I began to share my story of how I decided to become a small business owner; you can read my first article here.

Mike and I had decided to start a business together; we weren’t really sure where to start and all we were really sure about at the time was that we wanted the old lolly shop, a space smaller than 2 x 6 meter. Our thinking at the time was that a space so small would be easy and achievable in so many ways, so we went to the bank and applied for a loan. Once the loan was approved we met with the building owner, signed the lease and picked up the keys. That was the easy part.

This is a picture of the shop just before it was gutted.

lolly shop

So where to from here? Logically, we knew we would need to get the shop built and we were very conscious of keeping the cost of this project to a minimum. We sat down and made a list, starting with engaging with an architect to help us with a design concept. Now this is not as easy as you think. It turns out that a small space of 2 x 6 meters is actually really hard to design and build, simply because, a small space means the less wiggle room. Everything in the shop needed to be custom made to fit into the small space; from the stainless steel to our cake cabinet.

Mike and I knew what we wanted from the beginning — the entire concept is that it is about us. The coffee that we make is the coffee we like to drink and the food is food that we love to eat. The design is also entirely a reflection of ourselves and what we like: a crisp, all-white shop that is modern, simple and striking. There is not one thing in the shop that wasn’t chosen or decided by us. We have eaten out quite a lot, and there was always something that we would change if we did it ourselves; so when we decided to create our own space, we knew exactly what we wanted.

The design stage ended up taking a really long time; we had to do a ton of research, including scoping out the set up of other cafe’s to see what would and wouldn’t work. It’s a constant process of reviewing ideas, assessing to see if they would work or were practical and then making changes. When we finally agreed on a practical design, we were pretty happy and excited. This is the first drawing we received from out architect of the concept.

Shop pic Note: In hindsight, and it’s good to know for future, it is extremely important to engage with an architect who has built what you want to build before, or who has experience and a good understanding of the requirements. One of the biggest issues we ended up having was that Mike and I didn’t know what we needed. We knew what we wanted, but we didn’t know about health and building requirements and so we relied on our architect and builder to tell us, and this came back to bite us later.

Even though we decided on a look and had the plans drawn up in the beginning, there were a number of times during the build where we had to go back to the architect and redesign aspects of the shop because certain concepts just weren’t working.

An example of this was the doors we chose for the café. We originally wanted beautiful glass bi-folding doors with wooden frames, to suit the style of the shop however, when it came time to engaging with the door company, we discovered that what we wanted was impractical and wouldn’t work in our space. We ended up having to go with plastic bi-folding doors that completely changed the look of the shop. It was something that we felt we could live with because the doors are only in use at night and it doesn’t really effect the overall look. This is just an example of some of the things we had to change; a lot of it was minor and no one would notice beside Mike and myself. I am sure I am the only one who still thinks about the doors. The shop still ended up being all that we wanted, minus any space for storage!

The shop is up and running now (see the image below), so all the design changes and tweaks worked out in the end. We opened our shop, 3º Coffee, on Monday 8 February, and can be located at the Civic Bus Interchange.

shop


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Creating a Cafe: Designing the space
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rubaiyat 1:23 pm 04 Mar 16

Sophia Carlini said :

Maya123 said :

rubaiyat said :

Nilrem said :

Is it possible to get recyclable disposable coffee cups? I understand that most disposables aren’t.

Bring your own or ask the cafe for real porcelainware. That is the only true “recyclable” everything else is hollow gestures.

I will not accept the cardboardy plastic instatrash substitutes, which affects the coffee flavour.

Th

rubaiyat said :

Nilrem said :

Is it possible to get recyclable disposable coffee cups? I understand that most disposables aren’t.

Bring your own or ask the cafe for real porcelainware. That is the only true “recyclable” everything else is hollow gestures.

I will not accept the cardboardy plastic instatrash substitutes, which affects the coffee flavour.

The coffee shop I walked out of today had no reusable cups…that’s why I walked, without purchasing. I wasn’t expecting to stop for a coffee, as I didn’t know one would be available, and hence I hadn’t brought my own cup. But I am but one person and when I walk I doubt the owner cares less, because they know most people don’t give a damn about such things, and the environment in general. The previous coffee shop I visited I knew they didn’t have reusable cups, so I had brought a cup along with me. It was telling though (back to my previous comment) when I asked how many people brought their own cup, and the person there said I was the first they knew of to do this. I only bought a coffee there as I was with other people. Otherwise I would have gone to a cafe with ‘real’ cups.

Our café is a takeaway café so everything in our shop is disposable, and there were a few reasons for setting it up this way. We do however, have a few reusable coffee cups for our customers who would like to sit at our bar.

So long as everything that goes straight into the garbage is brown! 😉

Sophia Carlini 10:48 am 04 Mar 16

Maya123 said :

rubaiyat said :

Nilrem said :

Is it possible to get recyclable disposable coffee cups? I understand that most disposables aren’t.

Bring your own or ask the cafe for real porcelainware. That is the only true “recyclable” everything else is hollow gestures.

I will not accept the cardboardy plastic instatrash substitutes, which affects the coffee flavour.

Th

rubaiyat said :

Nilrem said :

Is it possible to get recyclable disposable coffee cups? I understand that most disposables aren’t.

Bring your own or ask the cafe for real porcelainware. That is the only true “recyclable” everything else is hollow gestures.

I will not accept the cardboardy plastic instatrash substitutes, which affects the coffee flavour.

The coffee shop I walked out of today had no reusable cups…that’s why I walked, without purchasing. I wasn’t expecting to stop for a coffee, as I didn’t know one would be available, and hence I hadn’t brought my own cup. But I am but one person and when I walk I doubt the owner cares less, because they know most people don’t give a damn about such things, and the environment in general. The previous coffee shop I visited I knew they didn’t have reusable cups, so I had brought a cup along with me. It was telling though (back to my previous comment) when I asked how many people brought their own cup, and the person there said I was the first they knew of to do this. I only bought a coffee there as I was with other people. Otherwise I would have gone to a cafe with ‘real’ cups.

Our café is a takeaway café so everything in our shop is disposable, and there were a few reasons for setting it up this way. We do however, have a few reusable coffee cups for our customers who would like to sit at our bar.

Sophia Carlini 10:45 am 04 Mar 16

AndrewA said :

True to my word I checked out 3 Degrees today.
The coffee was great (it is so hot today but I was determined to have my coffee anyway and I was super glad I did, best coffee I’ve had in a while). Staff was super friendly and the shop looked fantastic! Definitely worth the walk over from City West

Thanks for the lovely review Andrew! We’re glad you were impressed.

Sophia Carlini 10:44 am 04 Mar 16

Masquara said :

Sophia is the Gabriel coffee 100% Arabica? I checked their website and there’s no info. I can’t deal with more than 5% Robusta in my coffee, so it would be great to have that info!

Our coffee is 100% Arabica 🙂

Maya123 10:53 pm 03 Mar 16

rubaiyat said :

Nilrem said :

Is it possible to get recyclable disposable coffee cups? I understand that most disposables aren’t.

Bring your own or ask the cafe for real porcelainware. That is the only true “recyclable” everything else is hollow gestures.

I will not accept the cardboardy plastic instatrash substitutes, which affects the coffee flavour.

Th

rubaiyat said :

Nilrem said :

Is it possible to get recyclable disposable coffee cups? I understand that most disposables aren’t.

Bring your own or ask the cafe for real porcelainware. That is the only true “recyclable” everything else is hollow gestures.

I will not accept the cardboardy plastic instatrash substitutes, which affects the coffee flavour.

The coffee shop I walked out of today had no reusable cups…that’s why I walked, without purchasing. I wasn’t expecting to stop for a coffee, as I didn’t know one would be available, and hence I hadn’t brought my own cup. But I am but one person and when I walk I doubt the owner cares less, because they know most people don’t give a damn about such things, and the environment in general. The previous coffee shop I visited I knew they didn’t have reusable cups, so I had brought a cup along with me. It was telling though (back to my previous comment) when I asked how many people brought their own cup, and the person there said I was the first they knew of to do this. I only bought a coffee there as I was with other people. Otherwise I would have gone to a cafe with ‘real’ cups.

rubaiyat 7:11 pm 03 Mar 16

Nilrem said :

Is it possible to get recyclable disposable coffee cups? I understand that most disposables aren’t.

Bring your own or ask the cafe for real porcelainware. That is the only true “recyclable” everything else is hollow gestures.

I will not accept the cardboardy plastic instatrash substitutes, which affects the coffee flavour.

Maya123 5:52 pm 03 Mar 16

Nilrem said :

Is it possible to get recyclable disposable coffee cups? I understand that most disposables aren’t.

I walked out of a coffee shop today that didn’t have reusable cups. They only had disposable cups, and making this worse, most are not properly recyclable (if at all), as they have plastic liners.
I hope you have reusable cups.

psychedeli 5:20 pm 03 Mar 16

Nilrem said :

Is it possible to get recyclable disposable coffee cups? I understand that most disposables aren’t.

Hi,

I believe the BioCup by BioPak (http://www.biopak.com.au/) isn’t recyclable but is compostable. Not sure if that is sufficient for your needs 🙂

Nilrem 3:56 pm 03 Mar 16

Is it possible to get recyclable disposable coffee cups? I understand that most disposables aren’t.

AndrewA 2:50 pm 03 Mar 16

True to my word I checked out 3 Degrees today.
The coffee was great (it is so hot today but I was determined to have my coffee anyway and I was super glad I did, best coffee I’ve had in a while). Staff was super friendly and the shop looked fantastic! Definitely worth the walk over from City West

Masquara 12:17 pm 03 Mar 16

Sophia is the Gabriel coffee 100% Arabica? I checked their website and there’s no info. I can’t deal with more than 5% Robusta in my coffee, so it would be great to have that info!

Sophia Carlini 2:01 pm 01 Mar 16

Kalliste said :

It all looks great, I’m surprised at how fast it all got going (but maybe that is just from the outside looking in). So, the big question is, can you do a good hot or iced chocolate? 😀

We do great everything 🙂

Sophia Carlini 1:55 pm 01 Mar 16

Ezy said :

Nice job – I will have to swing past for a coffee when I am in the area. What beans and machinery are you using?

So with the name… does it have anything to do with the 3 Degrees bar that used to be in the space that was Kremlin/White Rabbit?

Thanks for your comment. We’d love you to pop in.

We’re using Gabriel coffee and their supplied machinery; we love Gabriel coffee and I will talk about how we chose our products through the series.

And no, the name has nothing to do with the old Kremlin space, just coincidence. We chose it because of how small Canberra is.

Sophia Carlini 1:54 pm 01 Mar 16

Ezy said :

Nice job – I will have to swing past for a coffee when I am in the area. What beans and machinery are you using?

So with the name… does it have anything to do with the 3 Degrees bar that used to be in the space that was Kremlin/White Rabbit?

We’re using Gabriel coffee and their supplied machinery; we love Gabriel coffee and I will talk about how we chose our products through the series.

And no, the name has nothing to do with the old Kremlin space, just coincidence. We chose it because of how small Canberra is.

rosscoact 12:50 pm 26 Feb 16

IdlePeasant said :

Have you consulted a lawyer about the business name? There’s an established business in the same industry named “3 Degrees Cafe” on the La Trobe university campus in Melbourne. Different geographical areas, but it could still be an issue down the line.

The name is registered to the OP. Ironically, 3 degrees cafe is available as a business name

AndrewA 9:38 am 26 Feb 16

I’m very excited to check out the coffee!

As a recent interior architecture graduate I thoroughly enjoyed this read journeying through concept, struggles and ultimately, the finished project! Your vision sounded perfect from the start and the final image looks great. I hope to hear about your success stories 🙂

IdlePeasant 12:37 am 26 Feb 16

Have you consulted a lawyer about the business name? There’s an established business in the same industry named “3 Degrees Cafe” on the La Trobe university campus in Melbourne. Different geographical areas, but it could still be an issue down the line.

justin heywood 10:45 pm 25 Feb 16

Sophia, I really hope you keep this blog going. I’m sure that the learning curve will continue to be steep (but hopefully rewarding) for you and interesting for us – many people have or dream of starting a small business one day.

Good to see you’re honest enough to include lessons you’ve learnt and compromises made. I’d be interested too in hearing what you learn about coffee customers, their quirks, what works and what doesn’t, how you deal with difficult customers etc.

Kalliste 7:28 pm 25 Feb 16

It all looks great, I’m surprised at how fast it all got going (but maybe that is just from the outside looking in). So, the big question is, can you do a good hot or iced chocolate? 😀

Ezy 10:50 am 25 Feb 16

Nice job – I will have to swing past for a coffee when I am in the area. What beans and machinery are you using?

So with the name… does it have anything to do with the 3 Degrees bar that used to be in the space that was Kremlin/White Rabbit?

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