02 Jan Mystical Minimalism: Coffee For Sasquatch
Coffee for Sasquatch, a passion project by coffee connoisseur, Claire Ackad, has taken over Los Angeles. The streamlined design caught our eye and we just had to know more about this whimsical coffee stop. We sat down with Claire who opened up about the inspiration and process behind Coffee for Sasquatch’s design.
What was the concept and inspiration behind the clean, contemporary aesthetic?
I’ve always enjoyed smart, sensible and clean design, so I wanted to create a space that was playful yet modern. Coffee For Sasquatch is a stylishly minimalistic oasis away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, for people in LA to take a moment to sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee. The plant vibes in the shop only add to that feeling: there is a giant living plant wall with an outline of a Sasquatch, which adds depth and texture to the space, while the opposite wall has a custom abstract mural painted by artist Hueman that ties the shop together and represents the mist of the forest.
We hear Coffee for Sasquatch was selected as a finalist in Interior Design Magazine’s Best Of Year Awards 2017! Who designed the space?
Yes, so exciting! I worked closely with Dan Brunn Architecture to design the space and bring it to life. I always had a very specific vision in mind for this space, and working with Dan was incredible because he was able to take the ideas I had in my mind and bring them to fruition so seamlessly. We had a wonderful time working together and collaborating on this project.
As a brand-new coffee shop, what kind of research went into the space?
I started really loving coffee when I was living in New York City a few years ago, and that passion continued to grow when I moved to Madrid when my husband was working on his MBA there. Living abroad made it easy to travel to even more countries and I would always be on the lookout for new coffee shops to try. Even in my travels across the US, as I was moving from New York to Los Angeles, exploring new cafes gave me a chance to try something new.
All of this travel led to my becoming obsessed with coffee. I’ve been very lucky in that I’ve had the opportunity to travel all over the world and explore and discover different coffee shops, absorbing both the atmosphere and flavors that contribute to the overall coffee-drinking experience. I genuinely enjoyed researching how coffee plays a role in the local culture, and realized that consuming coffee is a cultural ritual meant to be cherished and enjoyed – which is something that isn’t always experienced in the same way here in the US.
Did your location in Los Angeles influence the design?
Absolutely. The heavy emphasis on white neutrals, the light and airiness of the space, rounded out with the whimsical, and the playful and highly Instagrammable Sasquatch living wall, in itself, makes the shop so LA. LA also has a ton of great iconic street art, so to be able to bring Hueman’s mural within the four walls of shop only enhanced the LA feeling even more.
You’ve been described as a sanctuary away from the LA hustle. How does Coffee for Sasquatch create a unique, tranquil coffee-shop experience?
We try to offer a lot of nuanced little ways to make the experience a truly delightful one. We wanted the space to be perfect for everyone, so there is plenty of group and solo seating options, including a bench extending from the pick-up counter where customers can wait for their orders. There is also a standing bar towards the back, which is very European! I knew from the beginning that I really wanted to focus providing an excellent customer service experience, so we bring drinks out to our guests at their tables, there are plenty of power outlets for those you want to work as well as a strong wifi. The sanctuary isn’t just a visual aspect of the space, but a feeling as well! We really aim to create a friendly atmosphere and want Sasquatch to be a lovely place where you can work, or socialize, or whatever it is you want to do.
Tell us more about your living plant wall!
The front of the shop greets you with an outline of the hairy folkloric creature with surrounding real living greenery with a metallic outline of the namesake creature, truly evoking the mystical environment where Sasquatch lives. A lot of care went into the wall! I picked out about 10 different types of plants, along with the help of Monica at DBA and her brother, who works for Habitat Horticulture, the company that built the plant wall. They were amazing and still maintain the plant wall, they built a watering and irrigation system that is hidden behind the plants. It was a full project in and of itself, and a true labor of love! I knew I wanted a plant wall from Day One, so to see the magic the team worked is incredible.
What’s the story behind the name?
I am 6’ 1” – clearly a very tall woman! When I was a young girl, I remember rude boys calling me names – yes, I’ve been called a Sasquatch before! — and just how awful that made me feel. We live in this toxic culture and you are exposed to it at such a young age – the tide is definitely shifting now, thankfully, but we live in a world where it is so easy to reduce someone to superficial things beyond their control, which is not okay or acceptable. Instead of letting name-calling and youthful bullying get to me, I decided to put that energy into creating something amazing that not only spoke to my own passions, but one that others could enjoy as well. Plus, I have a young daughter now myself, and I want to show her and other young women that you can take the negative experiences the world throws your way and turn them into something huge and wonderful and powerful.
What’s your most popular item on the menu?
A lot of our seasonal drinks have been a hit – Lavender Vanilla Latte, Honey Cardamom Latte, Turmeric Latte and the S’Mores Latte have been quite popular. I want to offer something unique here at Sasquatch, a blending of flavors that you wouldn’t find at other coffee shops, and those drinks tend to be the biggest hits!
Now that the LA shop is up and running and doing so well, the next thing on my agenda is to open a standalone Coffee For Sasquatch coffee shop in New York City, where my love for coffee first started.