© Puddle / Photography: Takumi Ota

Founded only five years ago in Hong Kong by Japanese-born and California-raised Kenneth Shoji, the % Arabica roastery and coffee parlour chain is currently riding the wave of global success. Shoji initially banked on the lack of good coffee shops in the former British Crown Colony, but his business acumen, quality coffee and a very own coffee farm in Hawaii, have made his operations flourish internationally, managing a string of branches from Paris and Berlin to Shanghai and Kyoto. Being very conscious of the stature of his sought-after product in modern lifestyle, the % Arabica outposts are set up as recreational havens, and well-designed ones at that.

As said, the company’s focus has quickly become global, and it’s about to expand to five additional countries in the very near future. One of the latest outposts to open is in Kuwait‘s historic Sharq area, its sixth in the city, where it sits in the shadow of the soaring Al Sharq Tower, and opposite Al Hamra mall with its very own highrise. For the interior design of the many % Arabica coffee parlours, Shoji has teamed up with his friend Masaki Kato, an architect at Tokyo-based practice Puddle, and this new outpost is no exception. The café occupies a purpose-built structure, situated on an open space below large suspended shade sails. Encased in glass floor-to-ceiling on two sides, it measures just 72 sqm. (772 sq.ft.) but feels more spacious thanks to its double height.

An elongated service counter sits below decorative shelving crafted from wood and steel, laden with sacks of coffee beans from around the planet. The adjacent wall, clad in Hinoki wood and featuring similar shelving, infuses the setting with a sense of warmth, and so do the copper highlights. The furniture is simple and made from wood and steel, and tie in nicely with the aforementioned shelving. Right outside, more seating can be found, captured by benches with built-in planters, regular benches, and sofas, all made from steel grids, Hinoki wood, and leather cushions. Location: % Arabica, Al Sharq Tower, Ahmad Al Jaber Street (Sharq).

© Puddle / Photography: Takumi Ota