Not your normal cafe
Undoubtedly, the most enriching part of me hopping around cities writing about cafes is the degree to which I get to create my personal list of good cafes. It's been two years since I started the blog, and three years since I started freelance writing, even so, I still caught myself lost in the story behind each of them, though most of the time, quoting myself -- I'm so jet lagged. Sure, cafes in different cities, states or even countries, has their own scene. But the one thing that never changed is that a coffee shop is no longer just a coffee shop. I hope I'm making sense. Anyways, in the blooming of cafe culture. A cafe is a brand. It's not just about food and drink now. It never was.
I've worked with Send Smile a few times. But perhaps, this is the first time I saw the actual picture. As I'm on my 1-hour train back to Taipei, slowly processing every detail of this two-day work trip. I made up my mind instead of my usual post about coffee shops; this one is going to be about their story. I mean, this is why I created TLG in the first place.
About 13 years ago, Send smile launched their first branch. Sure, being the founder himself, Mr. Lee has the luxury to control the core identity of his business. However, the real challenge is to perfectly blend your ideas into the concept of running a business that actually lasts. It's been more than ten years with two more branches. In that sense, I think it's safe to say; Mr.Lee has got the formula right. I am no expert, but as I spent an entire afternoon shooting and walking around the space, I kind of get the picture. Every type of coffee bean is different, meaning the temperature has to be different, the timing or even the way you use that same old stove is different. The most important thing is to make each cup as if it was your first. No jest.
Having tasted a few of Send Smile's dishes, it is hard to imagine that food wasn't on the menu back in the days. Back then, cafe hopping wasn't something popular, in fact, it most likely doesn't exist. Most of the customers were from the offices around, and they come for takeaway coffee as the drink for their lunch. Coffee with traditional bento boxes? Well, that's something new. There were no Sunday brunch sessions, and a coffee shop was just a coffee shop. It wasn't until a few years back; Send Smile Cafe started making their own food. To create something new, and of course, to adapt.
I'm a huge fan of their food. I love the fact that everything is carefully sourced, and made without too much processing and seasoning. My personal favourite is the vegetarian sandwich; it comes with spinach, mushroom, and loads of other veggies. Best of all, melted cheese were added to increase texture and flavour. I love how it is one mouthful of healthy indulgences.
If you spend enough time in the store, you'll realise the interior is really simple. They did not go crazy with decorating -- which happens quite a lot sometimes, if I'm honest. Less is more, is perhaps the largest trend at the moment. The same goes for food, drink, and most importantly, lifestyle. And I'd like to say; I was lucky to discover all of them on this particular trip to Taichung.
Presenting to you, a mellow and beautiful experience by Send Smile Coffee.