After the ‘third wave’ and the ‘third place’.
Coffee is in our blood at makespace.
“Of course, coffee has always been a part of my life” says Dennis Lenarduzzi, partner at makespace.
“I was making espresso on the stovetop Moka for my parents after Sunday pranzo when I was six years old. To get the beans, my mom would gather enough friends so that they could purchase a special ‘european roast’ in bulk from the Java Shop (now Edmonton Tea and Coffee) because you just couldn’t find espresso beans and the group of Italian ladies had to pool resources to buy at wholesale.”
It wasn’t until the ‘60s that the Italian Centre brought in a steady supply of loose dark roast beans and many of the great Italian espresso marques. In 1976, Michael Ould started Java Jive at the University of Alberta and in 1980 he began custom roasting in his Old Strathcona factory.
“Java Jive fuelled many studies at the U of A,” says Dennis, “including my own. Michael taught me a lot about coffee and I did have the pleasure of doing some work for him at the early stages of my career.”
Fast track to today and makespace is still intimately involved in the local coffee culture, having worked directly with Credo, Coffee Bureau, Leva, and daCapo. We’ve designed local coffee brands such as ACE and Esencia and have built the spaces that serve those products. Good coffee has become as much a part of our own corporate culture as pantone numbers and Italian furniture.
Italy is the progenitor of both the second and third wave of coffee culture. The design approach for the interiors for most of the cafes we’ve developed takes cues from the ubiquitous but refined coffee bars that sprung up in 1940s Italy.
It’s the archetype we consider when we all entertain memories of sitting in a piazza in the early morning before the Roman sun takes hold. Or at a crowded communal counter in Bologna with a late night grappa.
That sense of place, of local-ness, is an important part of the Italian cafe experience. So we try to think in terms of complete day-to-night experience as we adapt these notions for the environments we are creating. For North Americans, a coffee shops is the place for a morning or midday jolt; the place for meeting friends or business colleagues; a shared work office.
Starbucks has coined it as “the third place” —home first, work second, coffee shop third. Coffee is now fully entrenched in our culture regardless of historical ‘wave’ or retail trend.
We’ve come a long way from the early days that Dennis described. Customers now know coffee and are increasingly developing a palette for new tastes and new experiences to satiate desires and satisfy curiosity. Local roasters have set the bar for unique expressions of coffee flavour and have transformed a bag of beans from what was once a globalized commodity into a specialized mercantile product.
For our team, the question now becomes how do we match the heightened expectations of customers by distilling the very best and most appropriate features of what constitutes a modern cafe and modern coffee brand. We focus on mining value for brands though product and space design—because Churchill Square is not Piazza del Duomo, and sipping a ‘latté’ on Stephen Avenue is no morning doppio on a Venice canal, but we have our own history, passions, and stories to tell—and those too are something to reflect in our designs.