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Dark Horse Coffee Automat in Toronto, Designed by Mjölk


Dark Horse Coffee Automat in Toronto, Designed by Mjölk

October 12, 2021

Our friend John Baker and his wife Juli Baker are the proprietors of Mjölk in Toronto, one of the world’s best interiors shop. So when they emailed us a while back to let us know about a new automated coffee kiosk they’ve designed for Toronto-based roasters and shop Dark Horse Espresso, we were curious to learn more.

“It was a really intriguing brief for us, as we’ve never experienced a fully automated contactless coffee system before,” John says. “We started to get a little nostalgic for some of our favorite old coffee shops—places like Cafe Valand in Sweden and Moka Cafe in Iceland. We love these warm and nostalgic places that never close and have a crew of familiar regulars. So we started thinking about how we could play with this nostalgia while also introducing the robotic technology from RC Coffee.

“We designed a sort of cafe diorama to create a playful fictional history for the Dark Horse brand, with its origins as a 1950-60s cafe, that holds a special place in the heart of Yorkville but is widely forgotten by the rest of the city. Our goal was for people to walk by the cafe at night with the lights in the window glowing and stop for a moment to look inside, then realize that this isn’t a real coffee shop but an automated coffee kiosk. I think just having the coffee kiosk by itself as an ATM might just disappear on a busy street in downtown Toronto, so the diorama is really important and full of authentic items that try to capture the spirit and quality of the coffee. We love the Nordic spirit for innovation, and even though this is a cheeky retro aesthetic, it lends itself to the optimism of the technology found at the coffee kiosk.”

Here’s a look:

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Above: The facade features an outdoor ordering station; passersby can peer through the window at the stage-set-like coffee shop interior.
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Above: The interior space is clad in birch plywood stained in Special Walnut from Old Masters Wood Stain in Iowa.
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Above: The Varklockor wallpaper is by Josef Frank for Svenskt Tenn (“It’s one of our favorite wallpapers,” John says. “We’ve used it in our own home”). The Tea Trolley was designed by Studio Junction for Mjölk, and the 1956 Drawn Dining Chairs are by Hvidt & Mølgaard.
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Above: The table is set with vintage Bersa coffee cups by Stig Lindberg for Gustavsberg and a vintage Danish teak bowl. The Nils Thorsson Stoneware Vase is from Royal Copenhagen, and the Diamond Pendant Light hanging above was designed by Oji Masanori for Mjolk.
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Above: On the shelf: a Le Klint Table Lamp with glass base by Holmegaard. Also pictured is a vintage Cobra Phone from Sweden and a green glazed mid-century Canadian studio pottery vase.
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Above: Juli and John found the midcentury Canadian painting and the rattan stool at a vintage shop.
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Above: At the opposite end of the space, a 53 Armchair by Finn Juhl and a Poppy Side Table by Julie Jenkinson.
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Above: Customers order via a simple screen interface or touchless web-flow (a mobile app is coming soon).

For more Mjölk, see:

An Antique Stone House Revived, from John and Juli Baker of Mjölk in Toronto

The Mjölk Shepherd’s Hut, a Quarantine Dream Project

A Scandinavian-Inspired Kitchen with Hints of Japan

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