Cool Spaces: Plato Coffee

WORDS Michaela Stehr PHOTOS Daniel West

Plato Coffee brings a sleek new aesthetic to modern coffee bars with a minimal, white space that lets the coffee do the talking. We chat to co-owner Stephan Bredell about the design together with Indigen Architects, the interiors and plans for expansion regarding our favourite drink.

What is the concept behind Plato Coffee?

We wanted to create quick pick up and go style cafés that are inside suburbs, we want to be part of people’s everyday lives. Our shops create small hubs in communities where people can connect. So you get to connect with your neighbour you spoke to 3 years ago. We didn’t want to go the usual garage concept as we feel the space should be vibey and create a nice feel, something you don’t get at a garage, that is why there is a massive focus on the design of our shops.

How did you come up with the name? 

I have a branding/marketing background so I thought of something people will easily remember. But there were also a bunch of other factors. Plato was the founder of the first modern western university and we have a massive drive to educate and empower people (Plato was a philosopher during the 5th century BCE. He was a student of Socrates and later taught Aristotle. He founded the Academy, an academic program which many consider to be the first Western university) The other reason was that in ancient Greek times, people will meet at the town square/hub and philosophy about life. In current times when we want to have some deep and meaningful conversations, it usually happens over a cup of coffee. The last reason was that Plato had some inspirational quotes that are fun to bring into the brand.

Plato Coffee

What is the inspiration behind the clean, sleek design? 

There was a massive steampunk/industrial wave the last couple of years and we felt we want to be completely different. It is a great way to differentiate so we went in a completely new direction of minimal design rather than wood and steel. We also wanted to create a sense of aspiration/inspiration when customers walk into our cafés, I always use the example of an Apple store, that feeling you get when you walk into an iStore screams inspiration and when something has a clean design, you get the sense that everything else will also work. Like if you get the interior/marketing right, you instil trust in a consumer that your product will also be good. A lot of our clients’ first reactions when they walk into our stores are “wow, it feels super clean”, which is not a bad first impression when you deal with food and beverage. Most of the inspiration for the shops comes from Japanese and South-Korean cafés, they have a very clean and minimal design style.

Who was in charge of the decor/interiors? 

It’s a combination of me and my brother choosing a bunch of styles we like and then we pass it on to the architects to source products. I will create a style guide of stuff we like and then we try and get as close as possible to that. Instagram and Pinterest make it quite easy to find exactly what you want, then it’s up to the architects to make it happen. We also build custom furniture if we can’t find exactly what we want.

Tell us a bit about the brand and its ethos? 

I think I summed it up in the ‘how did you come up with a name” part – but basically – Little hubs in communities where people can connect, build meaningful relationships and do life together while also having a massive passion to equip and empower our baristas and make an impact in the communities we serve.

Plans for the future?

We’ve just launched our roastery called Blank Supplies which will supply all our stores as well as our franchised stores. Then, we’re opening a minimum of 10 new Plato owned cafés this year, predominantly in Pretoria and then our goal is to reach 20 franchise stores by the end of 2022. Franchises that are in progress are; Sandton, Somerset West, Paarl, George, Witbank and Secunda.

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