A Trendy Tribute To Caffeine And Design
Italians don’t need to be told how to take their coffee. For them, brewing the perfect cup is an art, a science, and a tradition all in one. So while coffee has always been welcome in Italy, the ebbs and flows of coffee culture have a different story to tell. It took Starbucks several decades – and plenty of reimagining – to open its first Italian outlet in Milan. Cafezal, on the other hand, didn’t have any trouble wooing the city. This Brazilian-Italian microroastery and coffee shop is a distinct sign that Italy is ready to dip its toes in the third wave of the coffee culture.
Milan’s Brera district is a fascinating collage of art, design, fashion and gastronomy. Cafezal is set in the heart of this buzzing neighbourhood, on Via Solferino. Housed within one of the many elegant multi-storey buildings that give this street its classic appeal, this café has an unassuming storefront. Even so, customers gather in large numbers outside its glass-paned entryway, waiting for one of their daily espressos, or hoping to experiment with a chilled glass of iced or pour-over coffee.
Cafezal celebrates coffee at its finest, unaffiliated best. It sources its coffee beans from select plantations located thousands of miles away in South America and Africa. These are then toasted on site and converted into a variety of popular brews. Fittingly, Cafezal’s interior is an almost poetic testament to its celebration of coffee. As an extra flourish, it is also a testament to Milan’s aesthetic preferences through the ages.
Studiopepe, a local design agency with a string of acclaimed projects in its portfolio, shaped Cafezal’s distinctive interiors. Marrying post-modern forms and proportions with urbane vibes, the designers converted the café’s 50sqm space into an enticing blend of colours and textures. Deep blue walls create an ideal backdrop for dusty pink stools and banquettes. The resultant palette aligns with millennial colour trends, while also managing to echo the quaint charm of traditional Milanese establishments.
A carefully chosen set of textures adds richness to the space, while maintaining its overall reverence to minimal simplicity. The café’s sleek table tops, for instance, are articulated in black and white terrazzo. Their dynamic sophistication is balanced by a continuous plane of ribbed panelling that runs along the counters. Wood-grain printed wallpaper breaks the monotony of the blue walls in parts of the café, and brings a natural warmth to its urbane flavour. Copper makes an appearance in the form of trims and fixtures, and quirky tableware manages to serve and decorate at the same time.
There is a welcoming softness to every surface and object within Cafezal. Its banquettes and tables have curved corners, and barring the ribbed panelling. Every surface displays a smooth, almost polished finish. As a result, its interiors check a number of boxes between fast-paced and laid-back. They cater not just to the quick coffee breaks that characterize weekdays throughout Italy. They also cater to extended sessions of coffee and conversations that the world has grown to love.