You’d be forgiven for thinking that HER coffee, founded in 2011 by First Sukbaipoon, was named to signify a rather unusual channel of girl power. A coffee house founded by a woman, catering to women. Not for boys, the antidote to the Yorkie, perhaps? But no, it stands for Haggerston Espresso Room and everyone is welcome, even Tories.
HER hit the headlines in 2015 after the general election result, when the chalkboard outside the café in the Labour stronghold of Hackney stated that Tory voters would be charged an extra 10% on their orders. It was a joke, of course. Maybe. But all press is good press, as they say, and it drew attention to the quite unique business that the founder had set up a few years previous.
Bangkok-born Sukpaiboon initially trained as an architect, leading her to become increasingly interested in user experience within a space. “They say if you’re an architect you can be anything. Or at least that’s what we like to tell ourselves,” she explained of the reasoning behind her taking the unusual career path. “I’m a coffee enthusiast and running a coffee shop is similar to managing a project. Of course, it’s always a learning curve and you just learn along the way.” She trained in the art of the coffee bean, gaining the expertise in the field that she now holds and used this knowledge to open HER in 2011, serving espresso-based drinks and food to the ever-growing Hackney crowds.
HER works closely with Hackney roasters Climpson and Sons, The Roasting Shed and Vagabond to ensure locally roasted, excellent quality coffee is only served. New roasters and coffee origins are constantly being tested to provide HER customers with new experiences too. A place where people of all ages will chat, date, work, have meetings, run in and grab a take out latte, HER also offers young, local artists an exhibition space within the café that Sukpaiboon says will always be free to them.
“My intention of opening a coffee shop was to create a creative space, not just selling coffee. I believe that café culture really helps build a sense of community,” she told sfd. “HER is a speciality coffee shop with space that supports creative community. Those are two key elements that I want to communicate through the brand. To say that we are the expert of brewing your coffee and we’re also a cool kid that you’d like to hang out with.”
And, of course, with an architect-cum-barista at the helm, there was always going to be a keen eye on design.
“With its feminine name, HER, I’ve added a masculinity through colours and the overall design of the brand. I really like the contrast of its name against its look. We all have a contradiction and it’s quite fascinating.”
This approach also extends to HER Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate, which the brand launched last year. Utilising the founder’s experience and knowledge, she developed a recipe using the Toddy cold brew method. HER Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate offers speciality quality and flavour with the convenience of an instant coffee. Simply add hot water or milk. “It’s just a smarter way to make coffee,” Sukpaiboon says of the product which can also be used in baking, cocktails and smoothies.
Brewed, filtered and bottled by hand at the the Hackney café, the design process of the packaging and branding was something as considered as the café, keenly scrutinised by Sukpaiboon’s expert eye. “I’ve chosen to use a brown colour bottle with a black lid against HER bold white logo,” she said, continuing the clean, feminine-masculine design approach. “It’s very solid and almost too simple, which I think it works very well.”
Plans for 2017 will see the HER brand extend to an additional, albeit completely different premises. “It will be a very new concept. It will be an alternative to the existing HER bar and I’m excited to see how customers react.”
HER Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate will be served at our stand at Euroshop.
Haggerstone Espresso Room, 13 Downham Rd, London N1 5AA