It’s an odd location for a coffee shop. But last month, on May 1, a stylish cafe opened its doors in the small Kobuke district of Chiba. Roughly an hour east of Tokyo, the area is predominantly residential homes and industrial factories. But that didn’t stop the owner of Cobuke Coffee, which borrows its name from its district, in attempting to carry the 3rd wave coffee business model from away from more populated neighborhoods.
In order to control costs, the original entrance to the warehouse was used for the entrance simply by adding glass doors. Wall were installed in the front part of the warehouse to delineate the coffee shop. When visitors enter, a communal table sits on your left while dining tables and individual seating was placed to the right. All the furniture was custom-made for the shop by local architecture firm kurosawa kawara-ten, who used mortar for counter and table surfaces. The cool greys serve as a nice contrast to the plywood chairs, creating a unique environment.
And yet, as special as it is, Cobuke Coffee wants to function as a public living room to the community. While younger workers commute into Tokyo, Cobuke Coffee envisions its clientele as elderly citizens and mothers raising children. It’s an experiment in social consumerism – if successful, Cobuke Coffee will prove that you really only need a small, loyal base of customers to make a business work.