Few would question the special connection that exists between a barista and his café. Even fewer would take that connection to the exceptional, peculiar lengths that Daniel Lee did.
Lee, a siphon barista, worked for more than 100 hours over the course of a couple months modeling our Mint Plaza cafe out of Legos. He began with the space’s various brewing apparatuses – its La Marzocco Linea, vintage La San Marco, siphon bar and slow-drip cold brew machines – then expanded his scope to include every last table and counter. Most of it, he says, was done purely from memory.
“The layout I wouldn’t have been able to get down so well if I hadn’t worked there so much,” Lee says. “A lot of the details, I’d take a reference photo so I could go back.”
So what exactly possesses a barista to spend his free time modeling a café out of toys? We’d like to think it’s the same meticulous attention to detail that made him such a whiz behind the siphon bar.
“If I get into something, I really get into it,” he says. “That was definitely the case with this.”
The space isn’t exactly to scale, but it is nonetheless extremely detailed: Along with its flower display, newspaper racks and condiment station, Lee added a hat, which belongs to one of Mint’s regulars (a gentleman named Bob). It hangs on a hook in one corner of the café.
“I actually have a full Bob mini-figure,” he says. “But if you look at the stools, they’re smooth on the top, so he wouldn’t be able to be securely sat down. But yeah, the Bob mini-figure exists.”
Next up on the Lego docket for Lee? An expansion of the Mint Plaza’s exterior. Then, after that, he’s considering modeling our entire production space on Webster Street in Oakland. But just as is the case with brewing an impeccable siphon pot, there are obstacles.
“As a grown-ass man, this is my first Lego project,” he says. “We’ll have to see whether my bank account will allow it to continue.”