Customs Brewbar

Completion date
Architecture, Interior Design

Well-known Wellington coffee brand Coffee Supreme sought to open a new flagship coffee bar to celebrate the company’s passion for coffee and increase awareness among the public of the numerous ways coffee beans can be brewed and enjoyed. Unlike many other cafes where it is the norm for the espresso machine to take centre stage, the brief for Customs Brew Bar was to create an environment where lesser-known brewing methods could shine.

In response, the design team researched the ritual custom of preparing and drinking coffee. The notion of the mid-century domestic kitchen as a homely and nostalgic space arose from the familiarity of these rituals. Homeliness was then spatially translated into an open and inviting ‘kitchen’. The usual separation between serving space and the public was dissolved enabling the public to engage with the barista and enjoy the theatrical preparation of the brewing methods on offer.

The design challenge was to provide the client with a commercial cafe premises that complied with food safety and hygiene regulations without feeling like a typical commercial cafe. Due to the small size of the space, typical back of house functions were integrated into the main cafe space. The materials and finishes within the servery area were selected to both comply with the regulations and blend harmoniously with the overall design.

Nestled towards the back of the cafe, the espresso bar sits adjacent to a striking steel framed joinery unit that houses a record player, a banquette seat and an intriguing collection of vintage ceramics and coffee makers.

The base building shell has been left in its raw state and is contrasted with a refined palette of new and recycled materials that have a purposeful ‘lived in’ aesthetic in warm coffee colours. Recycled Rimu features predominately

throughout the fit-out and has been used in both its natural state and stained walnut. The lively pattern of the rubber flooring references domestic kitchen floor tiles and acoustically balances the hard wall and ceiling surfaces.

The undertone of the space is retro-modern, with an eclectic mix of furniture and artwork that would not look out of place in a mid-century domestic kitchen. Attention to the fine details and craftsmanship of this period has provided the client with a brand new fitout that feels as though it has always been there and offers Wellingtonian’s a distinctive coffee experience in a well-conceived space.


  • 2010 Best Design Awards Gold - Hospitality
  • 2010 NZIA Wellington Architecture Award - Interior Architecture

Other team members

Ana O'Connell Architecture
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