It’s impossible to feel bad at Brighter.
What makes this shop so special is how the space makes you feel. I think one of the biggest unicorns in hospitality is a place that makes you feel good, in and of itself. Ben and Junji’s big wide smiles are a huge part of the equation here, but smiles aside, Brighter is a sunny spot, with good coffees and pleasant times a-waitin’.
There’s a lot about Brighter that makes me think about evocativeness. To me, this is one of the most important facets of the coffee world, and something I feel is missing in todays world of precision, facts dominating conversation, facts over feeling, and tables laid out on every single bloody coffee bag. Here, even the retail is about emotion and feeling: the bags have bright watercolours that evoke feeling first and foremost, rather than you being told exactly what tasting notes you’re in for. It’s a retail experience that feels much more natural, and focuses on narrative, rather than an analytical one, and a process that feels more oriented towards a broader customer base.
It’s an honest space. The standing espresso tables remind me of talking about espresso bar design with an overly passionate colleague back in 2012. There’s a lot about this space that makes you feel the sheer enthusiasm of the Made of Many team. The Probat, proudly on display as you walk up the stairs, the sunny spot to make espressos for customers, the til/counter/bench being the first thing you step towards, placing service before anything else. What Brighter tells me is you don’t need to worry about anything, just come in, and have a coffee.
I went up the back to take some photos of the Probat, the couches, the tables and chairs and I couldn’t help but pick up a bit of a Wes Anderson-y vibe. Primary colours, woods and greens, and symmetry abound. Upstairs, downstairs, you see what you get and you get what you see. I think Junji and Bens status as coffee auteurs helps close this notion: that Brighter feels like the Grand Budapest Hotel of cafes in the Inner West of Sydney.
One of the more unique sightings is the Bunn batch brewer hiding underneath the bench they got from a closing down bubble tea shop. Ben knows his way around these from his time working in coffee in Europe. I usually enjoy batch brews the most when they’re from Fetcos, but this had exceptional body, sweetness and clarity. If you’re a fan of batch brew, get amongst it.
I stopped by Brighter on our last day in Sydney before packing up and moving to Canberra. I used to live not too far away, and had driven past that exact spot a million times; but seeing it full of happy people, of community, thoughtfulness and love filled me with so much joy. These are, after all, what hospitality is all about; no pressure, just good times and good coffee Jimmy xx