Cafe Focus: Plato - Where Minimalism and Good Coffee Meet

Friday, 3 February, 2023

Words and images by Ayanda Dlamini

I'm pretty sure the name Plato is what initially caught my attention. Right away it made me think of the planet Pluto for some reason. The name is unique and memorable, it drew me in, made me ask myself questions like: “What language is this”, “who or what is Plato  - and what do they have to do with coffee” and finally “there's a symbol above the ‘o’, should I be pronouncing this in a french accent?”.

Plato (pronounced ‘play-toe'), is a coffee shop that had been on my mental list of coffee shops I wanted to visit for some time, but it was always too far for me to visit. This recently changed when I heard that Plato had opened a new store in Hyde Park. In retrospect, I was craving immersion in a new coffee shop experience because I tend to be a creature of habit when it comes to the coffee I drink. We've all got our favourites, right?

On arrival, I was caught in some drizzle making me look forward to a warm drink even more than usual. I was welcomed by the beautiful smell of coffee, lo-fi music and two very kind baristas. Walking in, you can't help but notice Plato’s signature colours of green against freshly painted white walls and stone grey - adjacent to its warm and subtle orange and white lighting. Architecturally it's a work of art and a minimalist’s dream.

The grey skies and cosy weather made me decide beforehand that a black Americano would be perfect. Little did I know that knowing exactly what I wanted before I even glanced at the menu, almost robbed me of the foundation of the Plato coffee experience. Their menu.

Interestingly, their menu begins with a list of espresso based drinks that are named after Greek Philosophers and Greek Mythological characters. Plato being just one amongst the many others listed on the menu. At this moment, the mural of the bearded man on the wall and his face, so beautifully printed on each takeaway cup, made sense to me.

At this point I’ve ordered, I’m seated, the pace of my day has slowed down and I’m fully basking in this experience.When I asked what coffee I was being served, the Barista told me a medium roasted Guatemalan coffee. My americano was clearly made with care and intent, my first cup of coffee left me feeling very satisfied and curious of the fruity notes I acknowledged while enjoying each sip. I had to follow it up with a cappuccino to conclude my day.

There's always something so special about trying a new coffee spot, especially if it's a good one. I would compare it to the feeling of reading a new book, where the book is so good and fulfilling, you wish you were the version of yourself that hadn't read it, so you can relive the experience all over again. I found this feeling ironic in context of who Plato was and what he stood for as a Philosopher. My experience had begun to feel exactly how Plato had intended. So why is this ironic ? - because he devoted his life to one goal, which was teaching people to reach a state of “Eudaimonia'' meaning a state of fulfilment.

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