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It was around seven in the morning when Culuikha flipped the ‘closed’ signage and opened his café.

The faint scent of arabica filled the room. A hint of cinnamon and butter followed from the oven. He was baking some easy pastries for breakfast; a simple yet nutritious meal to start his day. Culuikha looked at the interior he designed himself, satisfied. He chose earthy colors and materials, vintage furniture but he relied on modern machines. Of course, he learned how to brew manually too, but some orders need to be done fast, and only those who treasured the story of coffee who asked him to do that using the V60 method. Had he mastered the art of the historical beverage, Culuikha decided to open this own business – with love.

The deli was small and compact, but unquestionably cozy. It was a two-story shophouse; Culuikha used the first floor as a retail and the upper one for domestic use. He found it easier to live at the same place where he earned money. The café area only served six, maximum ten, seats, including the bar area. Sofas and circle table, the dimmed lighting, walls finished by grey bricks – Culuikha hoped those who sipped his tea or coffee could enjoy their time being here. He provided a shelf fulfilled with books he used to read. Some of them were related to his major, architecture, some others were fiction, western comics, and poems.

He was cleaning the espresso machine and planning to write today’s menu on the small blackboard he placed in front of the café, but apparently his first customer was approaching. Culuikha quickly wiped his hands and prepared himself to greet his first guest. He was an excellent barista, but not a social person.

Why did he bother to run a café, though?

“Welcome,” his tenor was a bit cold, but he tried, nevertheless, “How can I serve you, Sir?”

“What would you recommend?”

Culuikha smiled. This was why – he might be a distant person but talking about coffee brightened him up. With excitement, he explained his special menu, the way he roasted and ground the beans, the journey behind every cup of warmness. Sometimes, the guest told him their background, and he listened carefully.

Coffee brought people together; including him, and so the story goes.