Is 2016 the Death of the Traditional Cafe?

Wednesday 6 January, 2016

The Cat Cafe Melbourne Source:

First we had The Cat Café, then Cereal Anytime Café fibred up our appetite, and soon Australia’s first ever Bunny Café opens it’s hutch doors.

This is the revolution of the themed Café, and we can’'t wait to see what 2016 has in store!

These days it seems coffee-lovers want more than just a grab-and-go of a cup o’' Joe. Café Managers are frantically finding the most original, or bizarre, way to give customers a unique experience to reel them back for a refill.

Cafés from Darwin to Double Bay are really starting to think outside of the coffee pot. Traditional Cafés are being replaced with themed wonderlands, and filter jugs are being replaced with kitty litter trays or reptile petting zoos. And the competition between Cafés is getting wackier and more wonderful year on year. The next wildly themed Café to pop up is Australia’'s First Bunny Café, and we can only hop (ahem, hope) our latte comes with plenty of froth and not fluff.

Sydney Cat Cafe We asked Veronica Morland, Founder of Sydney Cat Café, why Australians are swaying from traditional Cafés, “Australians love kicking back for a great cup of coffee in a gorgeous Café environment. Now, Aussies and visitors are looking for new and exciting experiences, whether that’s having your coffee in a test-tube or finding a cosy nook to cuddle with a cat, or a bunny or an owl! For me, the choice to start Sydney Cat Café came from the idea that meeting an adoptable rescue cat while you relax with a cuppa would be the ‘purrfect' way to get to know a possible pet. As a coffee addict myself though, I’m sure that traditional cafes are here to stay along with these new arrivals!” Photo by Attila Szilvasi Photography. 

But this begs the question: Is this the death of the traditional Café?


The Other Person Cafe VietnamWe looked outside of the border to try and predict which “"off the radar"” Café ideas Hospitality folks might launch in Australia in 2016. Take The Other Person Café in Vietnam for example -– it’s like dropping into a miniature doll's house, where baristas and waiters are dressed as Alice in Wonderland characters, and the resident cats curl up on your lap whilst you sip your morning mocha.  


Wormhole Coffee Shop Chicago US Star Wars fetish? A cult movie enthusiast? Well, next on the cards for Australian coffee lovers could be something similar to The Wormhole Coffee Shop in Chicago. This coffee joint is by no means ‘average’, and boasts Star Wars, Ghostbusters, and Back to the Future memorabilia for you to gawk at over your granola. And the centerpiece certainly isn’'t a condiment counter, but rather a DeLorean resembling that in the Back to the Future movie. Just saying. 


Wash and Coffee Amsterdam A cup of coffee with friends generally means gossip, also known as 'hanging out your dirty laundry'. Well, Wash & Coffee in Germany (now in Amsterdamtoo), have taken this a bit too literally. This new word Café is a coffee-come-cleaning space for customers to catch up with chores whilst catching up over a cuppa. Could this be a new style of Café for backpackers, hipsters and yummy mummies with washing machine issues? 

But why is this new breed of Café spreading faster than Bieber fever?

Perhaps it’s the influence of other cultures. The latest census data shows that almost 25% of the Australia’n population was born overseas, and 43% of people have at least one parent born overseas. Or could it be that reptile, cat, dog, rabbit-friendly cafés are down to us being a nation of animal adorers, after all around 83% of Australians have had a pet at some point in their lives.

Or maybe it’'s that we’'re simply more open to trying something new, and breaking from tradition? Does this mean that 2016 will be the year of the twice-digested coffee bean, the sparkling latte (sparkler included, but don’t try this at home!), and the gold-encrusted, vegan-free, gluten-free coffee machine? Well watch this space and we'’ll find out for you.

But what about traditional Cafés - could 2016 be the death of the traditional café? What do you think?


Heather Doherty


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