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Must-See Video: Phil & Sebastian’s Winning Approach to Cafe Design

Hanging inside the latest coffee shop from Calgary-based Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters is a large yellow neon sign that reads, “A neon sign for Uncle Billy.”

As with pretty much everything else inside the shop, it looks great. But what does it mean? Uncle Billy is the uncle of co-founder Phil Robertson. When Robertson was young, Uncle Billy tried to introduce him to the joys of espresso, and when Uncle Billy passed, he left his nephew a book by coffee roaster and writer David Schomer.

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“Sebastian (Sztabzyb) and I devoured the book cover to cover, and thus began our exploration of what better coffee could be,” Robertson says in the following video, which explores some of the design elements that went into the Phil & Sebastian Mission cafe, which opened late last year. “What I wonder is if I had never seen the book, what would have happened. I don’t know. It’s exciting to be able to pay homage to him that way.”

Produced by Ramble and featuring a soundtrack from Liam Seamus Murphy, the video makes two things quite clear about the company’s founders: they want each cafe to be a unique expression of the company, and their plan is to achieve that through detail. “Our designers always make fun of us and joke around when we say we want to move something 3 mm this way or that way,” Sztabzyb says. “It’s true sometimes we want to move something 3 mm. But it’s not just because we have a hunch. There’s a lot of thought that goes behind it.”

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The Mission cafe, Phil & Sebastian’s fourth in Calgary, features lovely touches like white marble counters and custom lighting, but at the center of it all is a new Spirit model espresso machine with a custom Phil & Sebastian plate from designer Kees Van Der Westen. Check it out: