Melbourne the self imposed coffee capital of Australia has been leading the way with a wave of stand-up espresso bars which have long been a staple of daily life in Italy. The so called ‘urban retail’ concept typically serves high quality coffee in a space with limited or no seating. These areas display a long counter-type bar with the Barista and their coffee machine at one end, and possibly a small selection of cakes and of pastries at the other.
The aim of such places is to provide an environment where people can grab a quick coffee and a chat without feeling the need that they have to take a seat. Many of the interiors opening up all over the country heavily reflect Italian styling and design and as such, are awash with a heady mixture of rich wood and chrome.
The First stand-up style coffee bar was opened in Florence, Italy. Known as the Cafe Manaresi it opened its doors way back in 1898 and soon became a meeting place for all manner of Florentine society. For well over 100 years the concept of the ‘no seat’ espresso house stayed firmly in Italy as it was found that American, Australian and English cultures preferred to take their coffee sitting down. However nowadays it’s come full circle and the concept of ‘drink and dash’ coffee bars tends to fit in perfectly with the 21st century, busy modern-day individual.
Another aspect that may have caused the shift in mentality is the so called ‘office syndrome’ Traditional coffee houses such as Starbucks use warm tones, wood panelling and communal seating to encourage people to take a seat, relax and linger while enjoying a coffee or two. However the onset of free wifi has meant that many coffee houses are now being used as offices for the ever growing freelance population who are encouraged to ‘plug in and connect with a coffee‘.
While this may not be an issue for those café owners whose long-staying customers buy a steady stream of it throughout the day many others are counting the cost of those who have a tendency to ‘free load’. So much so in fact that some owners are fighting back and starting to impose restrictions.
As the dynamic is changing, Australia is one of the first to react as ‘no seat’ coffee bars are beginning to appear all over Australia. While Melbourne is leading the way, Cities such as Sydney and Perth are also starting to catch on and establishments such as Workshop Espresso in Sydney and Standing Room Only in Perth are good examples. As a knock on effect, even those cultures that once preferred to ‘take a seat’ are starting to show an emerging espresso bar mentality, especially in cosmopolitan cities such as New York and London.
What are your thoughts on the emergence of stand and sip coffee bars. Are they set to take over?
For those café owners that aren’t quite ready to turn out their happily seated customers in favour of a stand-up variety then why not create your own Italian inspired ambience complete with rich wood styling with our sublime selection of timber-like tables and beechwood chairs. Contact us on (07) 3205 1616 to see just how we can help.