COCONUTS HOT SPOT – There’s something pleasing about the idea of a press office café that has nothing to do with press offices. With that magic word ‘café’, a grey building filled with the whirr of panicky media types gives way to an image of newsmen sipping lattes and a hipster aesthetic that the latest Yaw Min Gyi coffee shop and bakery has in spades.
Located on Bo Yar Nyunt, off Nawaday Street, The Press Office Café is light and airy with bright white walls and a semi-industrial design – plus cutesy flourishes. Croissants, cookies and chocolate orange tarts sit in baskets by the counter – free samples are advertised with a smiley face. The smell of freshly baked cupcakes wafts to the tables upstairs, on which sugar is stashed in Lyle’s Golden Syrup tins. An easel stands in the corner. Freelancers type on high tables by the windows. (Wifi is patchy, but fiber-optic is coming.)
“The idea is to introduce café culture to Yangon, the way the Australians and the Europeans do it: simple and down to earth in design, where the focus is on quality of food and drink, delivered consistently,” explains Ellise Lim, one of the owners.
Lim, who graduated from University College London with a degree in economics last year, opened The Press Office Café with a couple of local partners earlier this month. “Setting up shop in an up-and-coming city like Yangon presented an opportunity to be the first mover and set standards for the café segment here,” she said in an email.
For now, only coffee and cakes are on the menu – though fresh juice and sandwiches may be on the way. The brew is sourced from respected local roaster Element Coffee, which runs Coffee Circles. Lattes are priced at 2,400 kyats. Lim, a keen baker, makes all the cakes. “It’s hard work, but also ensures the quality and freshness of the products we serve our customers,” she said.
Those customers have had a wealth of choice in Yaw Min Gyi lately. On Bo Yar Nyunt alone there are several upmarket cafés. But Lim’s not worried. “Some say that competition is bad, but we think the opposite,” she said. “By occupying a well-defined, niche segment, we not only do not compete with our more established neighbours, they’ve actually turned out to be our biggest customers!”
Very cute. Wouldn’t have expected anything less from ‘good-vibes’ Yaw Min Gi.
The Press Office Cafe can be found on Bo Yaw Nyunt Road, near the junction with Nawaday Street, in the Yaw Min Gyi Area of Yangon.Opening hours: Tuesday to Friday, 8am until 8pm. Saturday to Sunday: 10am until 8pm. Closed on Mondays.
Photo: Coconuts Media