Hydraulic lifts and minimalist espresso taps turn a standard shipping container into a striking temporary café
In true summer-house fashion, Pilot Coffee Roasters’ seasonal pop-up in Ontario’s Prince Edward County distills the burgeoning espresso empire’s primary outlets into a smaller version that opens up to the great outdoors.
Credit Williamson Williamson for the skillful downsizing. Back in 2013, Pilot Coffee co-founders Jessie and Andy Wilkin enlisted the architecture studio – then Williamson Chong – to create their roastery’s Toronto headquarters. Since then, the firm has designed two more coffee shops for Pilot and has another in the works.
For the company’s cottage-country outpost, the architects drew design elements from previous Pilot Coffee locations. “We were following a natural train of thought,” co-principal Betsy Williamson says. The pop-up’s counter, for instance, is lined in the same white-oak pickets that grace the signature curvier bars in Pilot’s urban cafés. Behind it, minimalist Modbar espresso taps are operated via under-counter control modules tucked next to a fridge and an ice machine, with power and water supplied through hookups to a nearby ice cream shop.
To house it all, a 2.4-by-6.1-metre corrugated metal container constituted the perfect pre-made shell. “Sometimes, you work to mask the toughness of a shipping container,” Williamson says. “In this case, we really wanted it for what it is: It keeps things secure, and it keeps them dry.”