Not your normal cafe

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send smile coffee

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. 

這些年,來來回回許多咖啡館,總是藉著工作假公濟私,一一收藏數自己的口袋名單。對於這樣的生活,內心滿是喜愛。是年輕的創業熱情也好,又或是在業界打滾多年的前輩老手,藉由交談閒聊的過程中,彷彿自己也與他們經歷了一回。與憲賣咖啡合作已不是初次,八月的台中行與他們接連兩天的接觸交流,搭上高鐵回台北時內心早已決定,這篇文章,比起「咖啡廳食記」,更適合歸類於「故事訪談」中。

咖啡廳這項文化,有些人慣性將其刻板為屬於文青派的活動。不過在文藝表象的背後,有著仔細的規劃經營,更有著對於品牌的衝勁。最重要的是,秉持著面對改變的信心。此刻在我眼前的,是起家13年的憲賣咖啡,經歷了金融風暴與顧客的習慣變遷,一一在各方面做了調整,駐足在台中東興。

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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. 

身為創辦人,握有著令人羨煞,能夠發揮自主掌控的權利。不過,要如何將天馬行空的想像,不著痕跡的貫穿在現實盈利的關係中,才是門真正的學問。手法必須機智,但該堅持的初衷還是得捍衛著。對於咖啡,外行的我不懂,不過看著老闆李先生在一樓的咖啡吧親自手沖,似乎能有些許體會。從溫度、時間到瓦斯爐的使用,根據不同咖啡豆的特性,都有不同的方法。而我,在進行拍攝時,看見了堅持,將每杯咖啡當作東興店的第一杯來製作的堅持。憲賣的咖啡豆,大部分都來自歐洲與日本,請廠商特製,經由鑽研成了他們著名的單品。

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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. 

與友人用餐的過程中,負責品牌經營的李小姐向我們敘述過去的咖啡廳和現在的多麽不同。聽著故事,覺得有趣之外,對於一個產業的改變,也感到特別驚喜。原來,以前的憲賣就只賣咖啡,當時也並不流行所謂的早午餐文化。十多年前,上班族們是提著午休的便當,來咖啡吧前外帶咖啡。後來,隨著輕食餐點的萌牙,才陸陸續續開始研發出我們手中的餐單。

看著眼前的豐富的早午餐,很難想像以前這裡是不賣餐點的。憲賣的餐點,一直都是我的心頭好。每次入口,都能感受到他們在食材上的用心,沒有過多的加工調味,保持著食物的原貌,身為顧客的我們,品嚐得也很安心。好喜歡這次的菠菜蘑菇乳酪三明治,因為我本身不並愛吃肉,這樣的搭配對我來說剛剛好。雖然都是蔬菜,但濃郁的烤乳酪,讓整個三明治的成了份療癒的美食。健康與味道都兼顧了,三個月後的今天想起,還是好滿足。

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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.

吃飽喝足了,帶著相機來在東興店晃了一圈。店裡的陳設簡單,並無復雜特樣,但充滿咖啡香味的空間卻特別令人喜愛。這幾年來,我們不只在飲食上注重純樸自然,將生活回歸簡單也成了新的追求,除了物質,透過自己喜愛的氛圍,在內心達到平衡與滿足。

憲賣東興店提供給我們的,正是這樣醇美的體驗。

in collaboration with Send Smile.// shot on Nikon DF with 24-70mm lens.