Wednesday, 03 June 2015 10:55

So what’s The Press Office Café all about?
Myanmar shares our love for great food, companionship and life.

We love the look of minimalistic cafĂŠs in Europe, Australia and the Americas and want to offer a hip, ethical lounge hangout spot for emerging local youths and expats. We love the concept of the cafĂŠ historically being at the heart of a large part of creativity. You had people like Oscar Wilde, Ernest Hemingway and Pablo Picasso pitching up at their favourite cafĂŠs not just for the refreshments, but to chat with others and also enjoy a state of solitude.


We want to bring all these concepts to Myanmar with a delicious selection of freshly baked cakes and locally sourced coffee and see how it kicks off. Our doors will be open to everyone from people grabbing a takeaway coffee on their lunch breaks, others looking for a space to unwind with a book and a latte and a spot for friends and family to catch up.


But our real dream is to see it become a space for intellectual, artistic, literary and musical expression. Hopefully it brings a new breath of fresh air to the Yangon cafĂŠ scene which everyone can enjoy.


Where did the inspiration to create a cafĂŠ with an exhibition space come from?
In London we met the team from a social enterprise called Café Art who had a stand in Spitalfields Market. We were very much inspired by the concept behind their work which was to engage with independent cafés to use them as an exhibition space for displaying art and photography done by London’s homeless population. It was really heart warming.


In the future we hope to be able to make our walls available for exhibition use – we could work with organisations to host events to raise funds or help to sell merchandise to support worthwhile causes. It’s something we hope to have fun with while having a clear purpose to help the local community. It’s also our way of being in touch with the community in which we do business. We’ve set up an easel and provided brushes and paint, and we’ve had people start painting quite spontaneously.


A space filled with an eclectic mix of people and projects would be really cool. Galleries have been popping up everywhere and Yangon is bursting with creativity.


Tell us more about the delicious cakes people can expect to feast on?
People love to indulge themselves don’t they? Treat themselves to a helping of apple crumble or a slice of our chocolate orange cake with a muffin on the side. Our banana breads and brownies have also been selling extremely well.


Our baking ingredients show Myanmar at its best and we’re keeping it as local as possible with local suppliers. We’re then fusing them with Western baking techniques to tempt customers with delicious pastries and cakes which are freshly baked on a daily basis.

Where are you sourcing your coffee beans from?
Like with our baking, we’re keeping it local with our beverages to show what Myanmar’s local producers have to offer. There are two main varieties of coffee – Arabica and Robusta. Robusta grows more easily in Myanmar but generally isn’t as fragrant as Arabica, and usually turns out a little more acidic. But as the name suggests it’s the more robust of the coffee varieties. Arabica is slightly harder to source, but it gives the flavours that we’re familiar with from western coffee shops. We primarily source our coffees from Element Coffee, who also run Coffee Circles on Dhamazedi Road - given that they’re the most reliable source of supply of local beans we can get. Additionally, they batch roast coffees themselves which means we can get top quality roasts every time.

What are the benefits and challe-nges of opening a business in Myanmar?
Benefits wise, the people we’ve worked with to make this happen have been great. From our landlord to our contractor to the business services firm that helped us with the administration. We took possession of this unit on the 2nd of March which gave us two months to get a fully-fledged cafĂŠ started. With Thingyan being bang in the middle of this period, it is extremely good work. We’re really pleased with how it has all worked out.
As for the challenges, I think the business model is definitely something different compared to what the rest of the market currently offers, although not something completely alien to the world. Prioritising a consistent, quick service; catering to the takeaway crowd; restricting the menu to only cakes, pastries and beverages; stripping the dĂŠcor down to its bare bones rather than elaboration; focusing on freshness, quality and consistency  â€“ these were all things that caused raised eyebrows when we first proposed them but I think our timing is right on this.


What are your hopes for the business?
Basically we want to be Myanmar’s no. 1 café - home grown and made successful by the local people themselves.


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Near the junction of Nawaday St and Bo Yar Nyunt Road, in the Yaw Min Gyi Area, behind Bogyoke Market in Yangon. 09 261 780 491

For more restaurants visit : http://www.yangondirectory.com/categories-index/restaurants.html

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