Photos by Caitlin McKone.
They’ve considered things like having a central leaner with specialist magazines where guests can wait for their takeaway drinks without feeling intrusive, how many steps it takes a waiter to get from the pass to each table, how their name can subtly reference the historical landscape of Torbay without seeming too literal, and how easy it is for parents with pushchairs to navigate their way around the café. Scout is smart.
Owner Liu wants Scout to be the best café on the shore. In his mind, a go hard or go home attitude is the only way to keep standards high and competing proprietors on their toes. Complacency is the enemy of progression and he’s found the perfect coffee partner in Murphy, who is dead set on working with likeminded owners. Ctrl Space’s Stevens and his team helped Murphy design Kokako’s flagship Grey Lynn café, and they know that by thinking creatively and spending a little money up front, Liu will able to create a sense of permanence in the changing seaside suburb, just as Murphy has on Great North Rd in Grey Lynn. Torbay is set to see an influx of young families this year as Auckland newcomers look to settle in (slightly more affordable) outer-city suburbs; Liu wants to offer them a special space away from home. Together this three-man team wants to see every suburb serviced equally by quality cafes and has declared (quiet) war on mediocrity.
Liu tells me there are many Korean and Japanese families in the area – two countries with a rapidly developing coffee culture – so every day will see at least three Kokako roasts to choose from. Select one from the first page of a three-paneled menu held together by split pins. It’s been designed to be changed easily and frequently. There will be drip filter and nitro cold brew on tap. The espresso machine has been positioned in such a way that milk can be poured from both sides of it, removing the barrier between coffee maker and coffee drinker; the customer and barista can now stand side by side. Detailed tasting notes for each brew will come out on a coffee coaster, of course, so you can read as you sip. Skilled baristas have been recruited by Liu and trained rigorously to meet not only the demands of a high pressure café, but to be able to talk confidently to guests about the origins and ethics in the cup. Just as they do at Kokako, Scout will offer a retail range of beans and brew gear.
Food will remain true to Liu’s established style – he works the kitchen and front of house – Hello Friends and Allies’ red velvet hotcakes will morph into red velvet waffles, coloured naturally with freeze-dried fruit. There will be mushroom donuts, and they’ll still hire a patisserie chef to bake the cakes and pastries that fill custom-built cabinets each day. Liu has worked on crafting a range of house-brewed soda syrups, with ever-changing flavours like ginger, lime, cherry or hibiscus. Guests will have a choice of cold or hot smoked fish to fill their omelets.
Scout’s design is as beautiful as it is functional. A custom-designed LED light zigzags its way across the roof, exposed birch lines the walls. Liu and co have looked both to Auckland and overseas for inspiration. With trips to Melbourne aplenty, the result is minimalist, modern and slightly Scandinavian.
Ultimately, you can think of all these great ideas, think they’ll work really well, that you’ve pre-mitigated every possible problem and you’re onto a winner. Of course Murphy, Liu and Stevens know that’s not how it goes, but they’ve invested a lot of time in this project and want it to work for Torbay. Scout opens this weekend, so you’ll be able to have a look for yourself, they say the devil’s in the detail.
971 Beach Road