Taipei - KiOSK

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過去幾個月常在社群媒體上看到KiOSK的訊息,不過不是周遭身旁的朋友圈,而是朋友圈兩、三圈外的消息,或是公眾號、線上雜誌的資訊分享;讓我對這家讓所有人都非拍照打卡不可、欲罷不能的咖啡店產生莫名的好奇。如果以#KiOSK這個關鍵字或是地點仔細瀏覽社群上的照片,你會發現除了許多女生的自拍照之外,最多的就是以#酪梨辣椒塔丁、以及#橄欖油檸檬起司蛋糕這兩種餐點的關鍵畫面佈滿螢幕。如果以KiOSK這個字在網路上搜尋,則會看到許多部落客發文介紹關於店裡的咖啡機、角落的腳踏車、雜誌架上的老花眼鏡,還有咖啡店的藍色門面。

我搜尋KiOSK的社群頁面,躍上螢幕的是在今年(2017)十月十日更新的一張位於東倫敦咖啡館的照片;時間軸再往回拉,發現店家是以一個星期約一到兩次、有時間才發文的頻率更新著對外溝通的頁面。細細閱讀,大部分是公布營業時間、店休日期的資訊,或是一張旅遊時拍攝卻圖文不符的照片。這般安靜、另類思考的咖啡店經營者與網路上的熱衷打卡者顯露出完全不同的氣質;這讓我十分好奇,到底這樣一家在網路上火紅的咖啡店背後的主事人物到底是誰、有著什麼樣的個性與故事呢?

I have seen news about KiOSK in social media in the past few months, not only from my friends but also from public channels or online magazines. I was curious about this coffee shop that made everyone fall in love with it. If you browse on the community with the hashtag #KiOSK, you will find selfies of many girls. However, the most showing up is the #AvocadoToast and the #OliveLemonCheeseCake; the screen is full of these two feeds. If you search on the Internet with the word of KiOSK, you will see a lot of bloggers posting about the coffee machine of the coffee shop, the bicycle in the corner, the reading glasses on the magazine rack, moreover, the front blue door.

I checked the official fan page of KiOSK and jumped onto the screen was a photo of a Cafe in East London that was updated on October 10 this year (2017). Scrolling back the timeline and I found out that the owner refreshes their page about once in one to two weeks. Read it in detail; they renew mostly for the opening hours, the date of closing, or a traveling photo which is not related to the news they updated. This quiet, alternative-thinking coffee shop owner and the followers who are crazy for it on the Internet reveal completely different characters. It makes me very curious; in the end, who is the person behind such a well-known coffee shop in Taipei? What kind of personality and story this person has?

 
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飛返台灣前一個月發了郵件與KiOSK聯絡,因為時差關係在隔天收到回覆。可能是我在信件中的口吻過於正式嚴肅的關係,回覆信件的主事人,Phil在對話上也客氣拘謹。不過,Phil倒是爽快地答應了我的採訪邀約,並且約了在店面營業前的時段和我碰面。

Phil結實且精瘦,梳了一個極短的髮型,皮膚黝黑的他蓄鬍,不笑的時候眉頭深鎖彷彿正思考著什麼事。而且我猜測,他不笑的時候居多。結束台灣的學業之後他放下台灣生活前往英國倫敦繼續求學,攻讀藝術設計方面專業(Book Art Craft);一待就是五年。「那怎麼會是咖啡呢?」我問得沒頭沒腦。原來Phil還在台灣的時候曾經在星巴克咖啡館打工,就在辛亥路台大附近。那家連鎖店是當時台灣少見的星巴克店面之一;他算是很資深的星巴克員工之一。當時店裡頭有位管理階級的前輩,不管在個性或是待人與人互動上都有著難以捉模的古怪性情;不過這位前輩卻樹立了讓Phil學習做事的榜樣。

「他(前輩)的性情不好捉摸,如果我們做事不合乎他的標準,他便破口罵人讓人無容身之地。不過他也以同樣的標準檢視自己,他做事絕對徹底仔細,就連旁人看不到的過程也都精準無誤、紮紮實實完成。我覺得這才是做事情的方法,就算外人看不到的細節都要好好做;因為只有自己知道標準在哪、完成度有多少。這位前輩讓我學會在處理細節時,也不馬虎。」

I sent an email to KiOSK one month before I flew back to Taiwan. I received a reply the next day. It may be that my expression in the letter was formal and severe, so Phil, the boss of KiOSK was also polite when replying to the letter. However, Phil readily agreed to my interview and to meet me at the time before the store opens.

Phil is lean and wears short hair. When he is not laughing, he frowns, and it seems he is thinking about something serious. And I guess, he is mostly not laughing. After finishing his studies in Taiwan, he let go of his life and went to London to continue his studies for Book Art Craft. He was in London for five years.

"Why do you do business about coffee?" It was when Phil was working at the Starbucks Cafe, just near to Xin-Hai Road. The branch was one of the few Starbucks stores in Taiwan at the time; he was one of the most experienced Starbucks workers. At that time, there was a manager in the store. The manager was mercurial in personality and interaction with others. But he set a standard for Phil to learn how to do things in an orderly way.

"He (the manager) was unpredictable. If the way we did things did not meet his standards, he would swear and make people feel overwhelmed. But he also looked at himself with the same standards. He was thorough and careful. Even the processes that others could not see were done perfectly. I think this is the way to manage things, even if the details that others can't see must be done well; because only you know what the standard is and how complete it is. He taught me not to be muddled when dealing with details."

 
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Phil到了英國仍舊在咖啡館打工;不只如此,更因為長時間耳濡目染,在那段時間內他吸收大量歐洲咖啡館的氛圍。「我發現,對歐洲人來說喝一杯咖啡是再也生活化不過的事;轉角上站立的咖啡館、街角那家又擠又暗的咖啡店,都是生活環節裡的一部分。沒有刻意,也不是因為店裡的設計或是裝潢而吸引來客上門。」Phil回想著當初在倫敦的往事,眼神對焦在遠方的地方。

和Phil從握手寒暄,到坐下正式開始採訪都已經有半小時,即使都聊到了咖啡,在這位以咖啡為生活重心的男人臉上都還是難以露出笑容,面對所有問題都以嚴謹的態度回答。這般個性與模樣讓我感到十分熟悉。於是我又拋出個沒頭沒尾的問題:「你是什麼星座的呢?」在訪談過程中我很少問起星座生肖;因為我相信一個人的性格與處世風格絕對是與生活環境共進累積的。

一問才知道,我們在同一年出生,生日沒有差幾天,都是土象星座,求學經歷也很類似,都很喜歡並享受歐洲的生活方式與氛圍。我在Phil身上察覺到的拘謹與過於正經原來是自己的鏡像。我們習慣在面對陌生的環境與人物時先採取保留的觀察態度;不過面對自己專業領域的工作範圍時,我們又因為太過重視而顯得小心翼翼放不開。

After Phil arrived in the UK, he still worked in coffee shops; not only that, but also because he had been amazed for a long time, during which time he learned a lot of European cafe atmosphere. "I noticed that for Europeans, drinking a cup of coffee is a life-like thing. A standing cafe or a crowded and dark coffee shop on the corner is all part of life. Drinking coffee is not deliberate. It is also not because of the interior design in the store that attracts customers. It’s just for a cup of coffee.” Phil recalls the past in London, while his eyes focus on somewhere.

It’s been half an hour since we start the interview. Even though we talk about coffee, it’s hard to see Phil smiles, especially for a person who lives on coffee. Moreover, he answers my questions with seriousness. I feel very familiar with this personality. So I ask an unrelated question: "What is your constellation?" I rarely ask about the constellation during interviews; because I believe that a person's personality is developed with the living and lifestyle.

We were born in the same year, and the dates of our birthdays are very close. We are all earth signs, and the experience of studying is very similar. Both all like and enjoy the European lifestyle. The restraint and seriousness that I perceive in Phil is a mirror of myself. We are accustomed to adopting a reserved attitude toward unfamiliar environments and people. Somehow, when facing our professional field of work, we are still too cautious to take it easy.

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Kiosk

台北市新生北路一段40號

No. 40, Section 1, Xinsheng North Road, Taipei

這樣的個性使然,往往讓旁人覺得不好親近、難以相處。不過在Phil心中有一個標準,把細節做好才能接近完美,即使這個完美不存在卻也趨近設定的目標。當我們發現了彼此的觀念相通時,Phil的坐姿不再那麼挺直僵硬,臉上開始展露笑容;而我就像和另一個性別的自己聊天一樣,訪談的框架已不復存在。

Phil當初在咖啡館學習到的打工態度以及精神一直延續到三十二歲那年在永康街開的第一家店Flat White(人稱小白咖啡);儘管市場與消費者所期待的咖啡館的樣貌與Phil自己心中略有不同,他還是以接近理想中藍圖的經營方法在永康街開創出白式咖啡的氛圍。三年之後因為租約到期結束了小白的營業;短暫休息之後,Phil來到光華商域以KiOSK重新出發。這次,KiOSK的面貌略有不同。

在小白咖啡館時期,Phil很強調咖啡館應該擁有的樣貌,於是常常在理念與大環境之間僵持拉扯。現在的他形容自己:「依舊非常龜毛、事事要求到位精準,不過我已經柔軟許多。」柔軟不是放棄原則,而是在自己的能力範圍之內把本分做好、在自己的咖啡館內把要求的標準把持住,其他的就學著放鬆、放手,讓自己多些彈性與包容力。

Such a personality often makes others feel that it is not easy to get along with. However, there is a standard in Phil's mind that the details should be done correctly. Even the perfection does not exist. When we find out that our concept is quite similar, Phil is no longer stiff and severe, and his face begins to show smiles. And I am just like chatting with another me, no longer like a cautious interview.

Phil represented his attitude and spirit on the first coffee shop, Flat White which opened at Yongkang Street at his age of 32. Although the expectation of the market and the public about a coffee shop is different from those of Phil's mind, he has built his coffee world in Yongkang Street with a business approach close to the ideal plan. Three years later, due to the expiration of the lease, Flat White was ended. After a short break, Phil comes to the Guanghua business district to start with KiOSK. This time, the feature of KiOSK is slightly different.

In the days of Flat White Cafe, Phil emphasized the appearance that a café should keep, so it often stagnated between his concept and the reality. Now he describes himself: "I still want everything to be precise, but I am already much easier." Being soft does not mean abandoning the principle, but doing things well within the scope of ability. Others, he tries to learn to relax, to let go, and make himself to be more flexible.

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在KiOSK最令人欣賞的就是空間的規劃,這是之前在小白咖啡時所欠缺的。大量留白的空間、沒有過多的裝飾,讓咖啡與人的行為成為咖啡館的主角;這是在重新出發之前已經確立的方向。「靠牆的單向座位,以及兩兩相隔與旁邊的陌生人共用的橢圓小桌的座位規劃方式有很高的實驗意味。這種座位的規劃方法不是我們亞洲人所習慣的,不過在歐洲卻很常見。讓來這裡的人來品味生活、享受一杯咖啡的時間。」

不過Phil也偷偷透露,常在吧台後方聽到客人因為不習慣座位的安排,通常在坐下之後又起身挪動桌子,把桌子移到正前方才不覺得彆扭。那以Phil的個性會去糾正嗎?「當然不會,不過我會盯著那些挪動桌位的人。」說完,Phil自己也笑了,自嘲了自己的嚴肅面相。

備註:歐洲的咖啡館,在戶外桌位的安排上許多時候都會朝同一個方向擺放。尤其在冬天大多是座位面陽、面廣場或是面向路口,讓即使停留一杯咖啡時間的客人也可以來場咖啡日光浴,同時也擁有較為寬廣的視野。

The most admirable thing in KiOSK is the plan of the interior, which was lacking in Flat White Cafe. Leaving space blank and no unnecessary decoration which make coffee itself and people become the main roles in the cafe. It is the plan that has been established before Phil re-started. "The seating area against the wall where the tables have to be shared with strangers is unusual in Taiwan. The plan for this seat is not something that Asians are used to but in Europe. Let people come and stay here to enjoy life and a cup of coffee."

However, Phil often hears that the guests are not used to the seat arrangement. "They usually get up and move the table after sitting down. They move the table to the front, so they don't feel awkward." "Will you correct them?" "Of course not, but I will stare at those who move the table." After that, Phil smils and laughs at himself about his poker face.

Remarks: European cafes often place the seats in the same direction for outdoor tables. Especially in the winter, most of the seats are facing the sun, facing plazas or facing streets, so that even if you stay only for a coffee, you can enjoy a coffee sunbath, moreover, have a wider view.

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理想上的堅持到了某一個程度的時候必須和現實互相讓步;不過這並不意味著屈就標準。好比說,當咖啡館裡的糕點與餐食是市場所需要的時候,那麼該堅持的就必須是飲食準備過程中用料的品質。因此,KiOSK一樓是熱門的咖啡館,而地下室的烘培室擔負起座無虛席的另一半責任。還記得在文章開頭提及的#橄欖油檸檬起司蛋糕,以及其他店裡頭都十分熱門的糕點嗎?

「當我們從外頭烘培坊訂購的蛋糕可以維持很多天不壞、不走味的保鮮期,而我們在家自己烤的蛋糕只有幾天的品嚐期限的時候,我就會思考這當中的差異。一家店的營運如果因為從外頭訂購的糕點出了問題,那我寧願把掌控權放回自己手上。清楚知道蛋糕是以什麼食材做的,這才讓人放心。」因為如此,花費大量時間與人力出品的蛋糕其實利潤很低,所以KiOSK才會設定了每人一杯飲料的最低消費。或許剛開始有些人覺得為難,不過既然是到咖啡館,那麼點杯飲料也是挺合理的,不是嗎?

KiOSK乾淨清爽、大量留白的空間設計也是大眾所喜愛的;這些都是Phil最理想氛圍的再現。那麼,空間裡的人呢,對於服務生有沒有什麼基本的要求或是訓練?在KiOSK社群頁面上常出現的徵人啟事給了我些想法。

「開一家咖啡館似乎是現在大部分人的最終夢想,好像只要開了店,人生就走上更好品味的階段。同樣的,來店裡應徵服務生的年輕人也常常對這份工作抱有偏頗的理解。」說到這,Phil又表情深鎖。「這是一份在不同情況下重複做著同樣內容的工作。不只是事前準備,還有當客人在店門口張望的那一刻起,店裡的工作人員其實就應該有所警覺,適度地偵測客人的類型與需求,然後再適當地作出反應與回應。」

我明白Phil的觀點,不過這不容易。我從大學時期便在餐廳半工半讀,一直到剛開始定居德國的前兩年因為兩地奔波也利用在台灣停留時間在餐館端盤子,我懂外場服務生得反應靈敏、眼明手快的要素,若非熟識人性,那麼就是有點社會經驗的中鳥。如果是利用人生空擋、或是以打發時間的心態來工作,肯定被殘酷的現實給打退堂鼓。

「更進一步,我希望外場工作人員可以用同理心來面對客人。如果免去那些客套的歡迎光臨的問候語,我們還可以怎麼迎接進門的來客。反過來說,如果工作人員自己到一家咖啡館消費,又希望得到哪一種令人感到舒適、恰當的服務呢?同理心是關鍵。」這是真實面的市場營運之道。更別提一天要沖上上百杯咖啡,光有浪漫情懷是不夠的。

Ideally, when you reach a certain level, you must make concessions with reality; but this does not mean compromising your standards. For example, when cafés provide pastries and meals that are needed by the market, then it is important to adhere to the quality of food. Therefore, the first floor of KiOSK is the café, and the baking room in the basement is responsible for the other half business. Remember that the #OliveLemonCheeseCake I mentioned at the beginning of the article, as well as other popular pastries in the store?

"The cakes we buy from the baking shop have a very long storage life, but the cakes we bake at home have only a few days of tasting; what is the difference? I don't like to be involved troubles because of buying cakes from others. I would rather know what ingredients the cake is made of.

Because of the season, the team spends a lot of time preparing all pastries; therefore KiOSK sets a rule that everyone must order a least one drink in the shop. Maybe some people feel embarrassed at first, but since it is a coffee shop, it is quite reasonable to order a drink, isn't it?

KiOSK's clean and fresh design is popular with the public; these are the representation of Phil's most desirable atmosphere about a coffee shop. So, how about the waiters? Does Phil has any basic requirement or offers training for the waiters? The frequent enlisting notice on the KiOSK Facebook Fan page gives me some ideas.

"Opening a cafe seems to be a dream of most people now. It seems that as long as the store is opened, life will go to a better level. Similarly, young people who come to apply for waiters often have an incorrect understanding." Speaking of this, Phil's expression is serious. "This is a job that repeats the same work in different situations. Not only the preparation before the opening hours, but the staff should also be alert when customers look around the store. Get ready and respond appropriately. "

I understand Phil's point of view, but it's not easy. I have been working in the restaurants during my university time. I know that as a waiter should react quickly and positively. It is not easy only if you are familiar with the human character. If you don't invest yourself in the job, the cruel reality must repulse you.

"Further, I hope that the service staff has great empathy with our guests. How can we welcome our guests? In other words, if we go to other coffee shops, what service will we expect from others? We all hope to get comfortable service. Empathy is the key." It is the real way of marketing. Not to mention that making hundreds of cups of coffee a day. It is not enough only having romantic feelings.

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當大環境對咖啡館的要求是要有漂亮的空間設計,甜點餐飲要上相要好拍照時,Phil以自己的標準把這些期許都做到的同時,也沒有遺忘自己的初心。「很多客人會過來吧台看沖泡咖啡的過程,問咖啡豆、問機具,我知道這是在咖啡浪潮過後的現象;不過既然這是我的咖啡館,那麼就還是以我的方式來接待客人吧。」

採訪不得不結束。週六上午營業日,客人已經站在門口張望等待KiOSK開門營業。我以人在店內的優勢,在靠牆的座位先坐下,請Phil幫我準備一杯當下他也會替自己準備的單品咖啡。「肯亞,是地球毀滅時我會帶上諾亞方舟的單品。」我記得他手上那只溫潤雅白的馬克杯,曾經在Hally Chen的專欄文章裡讀到。不管是杯子的厚度、杯身曲線上的觸感都很舒適,杯緣入口的弧度也恰到好處,是個適合捧在手心慢慢品嚐咖啡的好杯品。

咖啡趁熱細細啄了一口,轉眼店內已七分滿,這才剛開始營業不到十分鐘。不一會,門口出現一位身著黑色衣衫的熟面孔人物,這不是清志老師嗎?清志老師是我大學空間設計系時的指導老師之一,那些年在實踐大學吃苦的回憶瞬間湧上眼前。不管眾人眼光、也不顧老師是否還記得已經畢業十八年沒有再次相見的學生,我,我衝上前環抱著老師雙肩正想來個歐式面頰吻,卻被老師穩穩當當輕輕地、不著痕跡地推開了。唉,真糗。不過老師很有風度問了我近況、並且交換了聯絡方式。「清志老師很常來,他很挺我們。」隨後Phil輕輕地跟我說著。

這篇採訪文章我前後琢磨了很久,不管是對Phil個人的描述、兩人間的對話,還有我對KiOSK的主觀印象等,都希望透過我的觀察呈現出接近真實的面貌。一直到離開前,我們彼此一句客套的話都沒有;因為我們都知道那是不必要的。這是唯一一次採訪咖啡館沒有拍攝咖啡、餐點蛋糕。當初我問Phil,有沒有想推薦給讀者的蛋糕或是咖啡可以一起呈盤裝出,我順便拍照記錄。

「沒有,我們沒有主打的單品;這些都是客人賦予我們的。」我很欣賞Phil在理解自己的優勢後卻依舊戰戰兢兢、毫不馬虎的敬業精神,這是把小事做好就是最好的職人態度。

When the market demands cafés to have beautiful interior design and photogenic dessert, Phil offers all these expectations with his standards, and he has not forgotten his original spirit. "Many guests come to the bar to see the process of brewing coffee, ask for coffee beans, ask for implements, I know this is after the coffee wave; but since this is my coffee shop, I will welcome guests in my way."

The interview had to end. On this Saturday morning business day, guests are already standing at the door looking forward to visiting KiOSK. I take the advantage that I am already in the store and choose my favorite seat, the area against the wall. I ask Phil to prepare a cup of coffee that he would also make for himself. "Kenya, I will bring Kenya to Noah's Ark when the earth is going to be destroyed." I remember the elegant mug in his hand, which I read in the column of Hally Chen. No matter the thickness of the cup, the touch on the curve of the cup is very comfortable, the arc of the of the cup is just right for drinking, it is a good cup for enjoying coffee slowly.

I taste the freshly made coffee; meanwhile, I reminisce about the conversation with Phil. In a blink, the coffee shop is crowded, which is just less than ten minutes after opening the door. After a while, a familiar face dressed in black appears at the door. Isn't this the teacher of Qingzhi Lee? Mr. Lee was one of the professors of my University. The memories of those years of hard work come to my mind. Mr. Lee asks me about my life, and we exchange contact information. "Mr. Lee comes to visit us often. He is very kind to us." Phil tells me afterward.

I have been pondering this interview for a long time; whether it is a personal description of Phil, the conversation between us, or my impression of KiOSK, I hope to present its real expression through my observations. It is my first time interviewing a coffee shop without taking a picture of coffee or cakes. I asked Phil before our interview if he wanted to recommend any item from the menu, I could take photos and present to readers.

"No, we don't have any main item; these prizes are the guests have given us." I appreciate Phil's professionalism and his enthusiasm for work. It is the best attitude of an artist.