Let me be the first to tell you this: the much acclaimed Ecole Café on Qingtian Street in Yongkang area just opened a new café on Taishun Street, near Shida, a short hop from its old location. And this time, they’re making it BIG. Occupying a beautifully restored old Japanese-style woodhouse on a quaint end of Taishun Street, Café Trouve is operated in collaboration with Mooi to offer antique restored furniture and knickknacks in the front part of the café, and simple drinks and sandwiches or pastas at the back. It even comes with an equally fitting Chinese name: 找到咖啡, literally meaning “Café Found”, or, more romantically, in French, “Café Trouve”.
With its high exposed wood-beamed ceilings and school chairs, Café Trouve reminds me of a grander version of After School in Causeway Bay in Hong Kong.
Eight out of ten customers here will be designers or writers working on their laptops, as they do at After School. The only difference is, here in Taipei, you will probably walk away making a new friend. This time, I made friends with the founder of Mooi Minfu, and in the short span of our 30 minute conversation I learnt more about restoring old Japanese-style houses and connected so much better than through some formal introduction we’re most accustomed to.
A short stroll towards Wisteria Tea House I found Sonnentor Café, a bakery cum bookstore that advocates the LOHAS lifestyle and fresh organic produce. Behind a beautifully rusted metal gate on Xin Sheng South Road, a tree-filled courtyard leads you into a bright, airy space; a designed blend of industrial chic and organic living. A row of freshly baked bread greets you to the left, while a bit further to the right there is the book library with a careful selection of books on farming, organic and eco-living, social work, design, art and travel. Towards the back of the room, a small display of classical music is there for customers to listen to.
I sat down on the best seat in the room - a comfortable two-seater leather sofa with a coffee table display of wooden chops – ordered some ginger tea and brioche, and pulled out my laptop. I asked the waiter for the password to their Wifi connection. In Taipei with its popular coffee shop culture, it's almost a given that they provide Wifi to customers.
“I’m sorry, we don’t provide Wifi,” he said apologetically. I was shocked. “We’re a bookstore. We hope that our customers would read.”
Ah… for some strange reason I felt almost ashamed of myself. Once again, Taipei, by being herself, has reminded me to slow down and get back to the basics. Thank you girl.
Cafe Trouve is at no. 4, Lane 16, Taishun Street, Taipei
Cafe Sonnentor is at no. 7-1, Lane 22, Section 3, Xin Sheng South Road