Gazing at the various shades of hardwood, signature blue surfaces and dizzying array of cutting-edge coffee equipment, it might be easy to lose sight of the nearly 9,000 plastic milk bottles found at the newest outpost of New Zealand roaster/retailer Kōkako Organic Coffee Roasters.
The plastic bottles are actually the result of an innovative upcycling project led by the Auckland-based upcycling social enterprise Critical on behalf of the coffee company. Using a CNC machining process, the firm transformed some 8,880 used 2-liter plastic bottles to create the marble-like bar cladding, which captivates with flecks of creams, greys and crimson.
“For the counter cladding we wanted something different that showcased our commitment to innovation in sustainable design,” Kōkako Managing Director Mike Murphy recently told DCN. “Although [Critical] had been focused primarily on creating furniture, we asked them if they would consider making larger panels that we could use as feature cladding on the exterior of the bar.”
Framed by custom woodwork, the cladding now covers much of the U-shaped bar, which Murphy said was designed to accommodate quality drink preparation in the potentially high-volume Commercial Bay shopping center in central Auckland.
The shop itself, 19-year-old Kōkako’s third, was designed by the New Zealand firm Ctrl Space. Murphy said it takes inspiration from elements of a number of coffee shops from overseas in Australia, Japan and the United States — although at every step, it has been designed for efficiency.
The depth of the bar is designed to accommodate both espresso and manual brewing preparation, while approximately 20-inch modular racks can be used for under-counter storage and can be sent straight into the dishwasher.
Characterizing the U-shaped bar as a squarely American convention, Murphy said one side is devoted to manual brewing and a Modbar setup; one side is for point-of-sale and a pastry cabinet; and the third is for high-volume espresso using the shop’s La Marzocco KB90.
The Kōkako team tested the setup at its flagship roastery and headquarters in nearby Mount Eden prior to moving into the new space.
“To get the design right we created a life-size cardboard cut-out of the intended design and tested this on the floor of our roastery to make sure we got all the dimensions and workflow right,” Murphy said. “To see our dedicated Commercial Bay team in action on a busy day is like watching true synchronicity in action.”
Kōkako at Commercial Bay is now open at 1 Queen Street in Auckland Central.