If it wasn't the fact that my train ticket is still in my pocket, it would seem like we are back in Denmark again.
I like the idea of cafes. I like the promise of a good afternoon. I like daydreaming while sipping my drink. I like how most of my new ideas begin in some sort of cafe hopping. Discovering new coffee shops has become part of my daily schedule, and I don't just limit my exploration in the city I live in. So today, let me bring all of you outside Taipei. Even though a handful of my family and friends live in Taichung, it's been a while since I visited the city, and I'm surprised to see how much this place has changed. A month ago, I received a message from Smile Cøffee, then got the chance to visit their latest branch earlier this week.
Rewind to our visit, we were greeted in Danish as soon as we walked in. If it wasn't the fact that my train ticket is still in my pocket, it would seem like we are back in Copenhagen again. Smile Cøffee was launched after three years of preparation, not only the team spend loads of time in designing the menu, but also to make sure the place delivers the right atmosphere. The owner Mr.Lee has been in the cafe business for more than 10 years, and yet, he is still passionate about his career. As he said, "We hope our guests didn't just visit our cafe for good coffee and food, but because they enjoy the atmosphere we created"
仔細想想，身邊許多親戚朋友都定居在台中。然而，因為自己已經離開台灣多年，除了宮原眼科、米糕或勤美誠品，對於這城市幾乎一無所知。這趟走訪，發現記憶趕不上變化，寬廣的空間賦予了當地人更多能發揮的空間，塑造了專屬於台中的生活步調。學期結束前一兩個星期，收到憲賣咖啡的訊息，點開連結被照片中裝潢和品牌形象吸引，也特別喜歡他們英文名 Smile Cøffee 背後的溫暖的語意，與店家確定日期後，就一直期待這天的到來。
憲賣咖啡熱河店位於台中北屯區，挑高的建築與淺灰色的牆面，前腳踏入，在店員友善的一聲「hej」後，彷彿再度回到哥本哈根。籌備三年多的 Smile Cøffee，除了在咖啡和餐點上用心，對於整體的氣氛也是細心地在營造。走訪當天也遇上老闆李先生，即便經營咖啡廳已經有超過十年的經驗，卻依然保有著熱情。他說，「我們希望客人之所以會來，不是因為我們的咖啡多厲害、餐點多好吃，而是發自內心的喜歡並享受這裡的氛圍。」
Since I spend most of the time in Taipei and London, where space is much more limited, I love how Smile Cøffee is bigger than the cafes I normally visit. And considering the large windows, loads of natural light were brought in. I personally love the warm barn tone of the entire place, where you can see some exposed ceiling and metal frames. The cafe comes with loads of beverage choices, Italian espresso, brewed coffee, fresh juice and tea. My friend ordered the Salted Brown Sugar Latte, which she has been complimenting all day (even after we left!). As for me, surprise surprise, the mixed berries smoothie. My bad, though I've always been telling myself to try something different, I can never say no to fresh smoothies.
Smile Cøffee is a cafe inspired by Denmark. After all, the country has been voted as the world's happiest place, and there is no better idea than introducing the coziness of hygge through some beautifully-made food and drink.
The food menu is so exciting. I spent quite a while deciding what I want, though secretly I would love to have everything. Scandinavian treats like smørrebrød (danish butter rye bread), liege waffles, pastry balls, and of course, a couple of sweet delights. The waffle, in my opinion, was one of the best I've had in Taiwan so far. Nib sugar was included in the pastry to avoid the possible dry texture some waffles may have. With a lovely amount of berries and the oh-so-amazing Mascarpone Cheese on the side. On the savoury side, I would recommend the smørrebrød, also known as the danish rye bread with your chosen topping. We went for the cauliflower and mushroom flavour, which is really light and refreshing, perfect for the warm season.
Keep an eye out for the seats on the 2nd floor. Great spots to catch up with emails, writing, or a rare 'me' time after a long day of work – plugs are provided, of course. I do suggest before you dive into your technology zone, spend a few minutes looking around. The interior up here is a totally different story, cold colour schemes, hanging plants and beautiful illustrations. Decent.
In this particular Monday afternoon, I've come to understand that rather than a coffee shop, what Mr.Lee and his team are managing here is an entire brand. The cafe culture that we customers are all more or less caught up to. In a few months, I might not remember the amazing food and drink, but I'll always keep the atmosphere in mind. As I wind down and realise how a simple moment in life can be so beautiful and addictive.
Local or not, if you're ever in Taichung, don't miss out this little danish gem. Trust me, it is worth the hours. x
一個下午過去，著實地體驗到了憲賣咖啡的理念和宗旨。李先生與他背後的團隊，經營的早已不是咖啡廳，而是個完整的品牌。用心研究，觸及到的不只是客人的味蕾，還有我們對於生活的寫意。況且，一間會讓人想一訪再訪的咖啡廳，不能只靠滿意的餐飲，也需要吸引人的品味和文化。讓整天追著時間跑的都市人，在 Smile Cøffee 深耕自己的生活節奏。即便不是來自台中，也能像我一樣在這城市找到一處想自己窩起來時，最安心的位置。
不管你是不是台中人，想要停下腳步小憩一會的時候，不仿到 Smile Coffee 體驗小丹麥，讓日子變得更有趣：）
Smile Cøffee • 憲賣咖啡熱河店 No.128 Section 2, Rehe Rd, Taichung City// 台中市熱河路二段128號 +886 4 2238 3366
*Disclaimer: We were invited to the place by Smile Cøffee, however, all the opinions here are 100% mine. I would not have accepted this project if I did not think it is something interesting to share.