What makes a perfect coffee shop experience? Is the quality of coffee, the aesthetics of the space, the sense of community, or overall brand experience?
While it may take a while for the social side of cafe culture to return, it is likely to be venues that offer a unique customer experience rooted in meaningful and connective touchpoints that will really be able to thrive at this time. Seed & Cherry in Manchester’s Northern Quarter is one such example. The artisanal coffee shop, concealed within the entrance of the old Pall Mall building on Church Street, was conceived as a space where customers can explore multiple types of coffee beans and a variety of flavour profiles to discover their own “perfect brew”. Seed & Cherry believe the age of commercially mass-produced coffees is coming to an end, and as consumers learn more about coffee they are uncovering the layers of variety and complexity that it holds and want to learn more. In turn, brew methods are becoming mature to allow each bean to reveal its hidden flavours. It is this type of refined, quality, coffee that Seed & Cherry celebrate.
Offering a range of carefully sourced single origin beans from acclaimed Leeds roasters North Star, sourced from coffee plantations across the globe, Seed & Cherry lead their customers in an immersive coffee experience. All have been ethically grown and processed, and customers are able to track the journey from seed to cup through the planting, harvesting, roasting and rigorous quality control process. “Generally people have their ‘go-to’ drink in a bar and learning the heritage and nuances of alcohol is becoming increasingly popular,” says Faizan Zaheer, co-founder of Seed & Cherry. “Coffee beans are similar in that they all have their own flavour profiles, there is a bean for everyone’s preference, and we want to help bring this to the forefront. Customers will be able to learn, try and select their own coffee before having it crafted into their perfect drink. During our travels we found that the coffee culture was so far ahead in the rest of Europe, where coffee shops provided a regular spot for socialising, enjoying casual food and high-quality coffee. We want to bring that same experience to Manchester.”
The brief was to create a comfortable neighbourhood artisan coffee house which put the coffee in the forefront.
Seed & Cherry is founded on 3 key ingredients: high quality speciality grade coffee, tasty and healthy brunch offerings and a sociable relaxing environment. The space has been designed by local multi-disciplinary studio NoChintz, who have cut their teeth working on diverse commercial and developer projects across the hospitality, leisure and living sectors in Manchester and beyond. Seed & Cherry tasked NoChintz with delivering an interior, branding and visual identity scheme capable of communicating its philosophy at every touchpoint.
“The original brief was to create a comfortable neighbourhood artisan coffee house which put the coffee in the forefront,” says Katie Lea, NoChintz’s Head of Design. “As an independent start-up business the budget was tight, so we needed to explore how we could make maximum impact and transform the space, which was previously a bar. With coffee as our guiding theme we wanted to celebrate the origins of the beans and bring some natural warmth into the space.”
NoChintz consider themselves to be quite methodical in their design approach, and regardless of the client brief, scope or discipline begin each project with research, and an in-depth exploration of the business, its needs and its competitors. “This helps us to identify a design direction,” Katie explains. “With graphic designers and interior designers working side-by-side, this is a highly collaborative process which streamlines our projects and helps us create authentic brand experiences.” With Seed & Cherry they wanted to design a space that catered for a range of customers, and anticipated their different needs. “Brunching couples, individuals stopping by for a coffee and to do some work, groups of friends catching up, or families seeking refuge from the city,” she says. “By creating different furniture sets, we’ve provided options for customers to use the space however works best for them.”
A welcome sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of the shopping district, NoChintz’s research-based concept for Seed & Cherry is routed in the humble bean’s journey from seed to cup, eschewing the typically dark tones associated with coffee culture in favour of a colour palette of greens and reds inspired by the coffee plant itself, much like the cafe’s name. “When a coffee plant matures it produces a cherry,” says Faizan. “The cherry is handpicked from the coffee plant and processed in a variety of ways to isolate its seed from the rest of the fruit. This seed is then roasted to become the coffee bean used to make your cup of coffee.”
NoChintz softened the clean lines and edges of the existing building with natural materials and bespoke lighting. Hessian, traditionally used in the transportation of coffee, features on the counter front, while custom-made table tops in mixed tones reference coffee packing crates. “The biggest challenge was ensuring the counter operations were right,” Katie tells me. “We were working with an existing counter which was made to be a bar. It wasn’t the idea size or layout for a coffee setup, but we managed to make it work with some slight adjustments.”
Contemporary furniture from Danish design brand HAY and bespoke shelving punctuate the coffee shop’s raw aesthetic, while on the wall there are hand-drawn diagrams guiding the customer in their coffee explorations, detailing the journey their cup of coffee has taken from bean to cup. This physical experience of Seed & Cherry is carried through in the branding, with materials again a central reference point. Accents of wood and textured paper are met by a typographic line running through the venue’s artwork and menus, which “those in the know will recognise as a nod to the mountainous terrain of coffee growing regions.”
“The signage and brand touches really tie this project together,” says Katie. “From the bespoke topography wallpaper, etched wooden boards and hand sprayed hessian logo, its these details which uplift the scheme and add character.”
⊗ Seed & Cherry, 20 Church St, Manchester M4 1PN. View map
All imagery © NoChintz, used with permission.