Having the official ACOPIA website, posts on social media and the email contact to current
interns as sources to rely on I tried imagining what it would be like as an intern - creating a
picture of independet creative work in a comfortable environment with support when needed.
The café seemed to be fully equipped like a regular coffee shop with an atmosphere that made
you feel right at home. In addition customers could use the opprtunity of a 2 hours long free talk
in English or whatever other language the intern could speak.
Reality was different. After arriving in Korea and experiencing the current situation some things
became apparent: disadvantages like the location, oversaturation of coffee shops, lack of
customers, no menu but a fridge full of alcohol, office-like atmosphere, unknown even amongst
locals etc. There are plenty of stores that manage despite a difficult location, also the oversaturation is a trend influencing the market nonetheless other cafés manage. Our café has no influence on
these two factors. The other “disadvantages“ listed though, are completely self-imposed, an internal error. Out of all these the most serious issue yet is that it has been in this state for a long time in addition everyone is painfully aware of it. Which leads me to the question: why isn't anything done about?
Looking at it from up close the company lacks certain structures to make it more apparent what it is they do, where which subgroups' responsibility lies and where the lines blurr. Somehow all parts are connected but not working closely enough together. Even in the small office of our cafe there seems to be somwhat of a division when it comes to tasks and workload between the japanese staff/ interns and the other interns. Recently about 7 interns finished their stay consequently a new issue surfaced - understaffing of interns, which has an even greater impact because of the two shift system. After carefully analyzing the case we started thinking up on on counter measures for each. First of all the café has to be advertised for customers to come. Accounts on mutltiple social media websites are being managed and updated regularly.
In addition we started a leaflet campaign, going to a frequented pedestrian zone inviting customers to drop by. The café doesn't focus on any target group in particular so as to make it more easy to come and meet potential clients lifestyles, a two shift system has been established extending the opening hours from 10:00 AM – 18:00 PM to 10:00 AM – 21:00 PM. Now students can stop by on their way home as well as office workers after finishing their shift. Our work schedule has been adjusted matching the number of interns to the shifts that have to be done. When customers do come we wouldn't be able to offer them a proper coffee therefore I took the liberty to change it my mission. In the beginning I researched the machine and types of coffee since each has a unique taste to it and is best suited for different receipts. At home I have a coffee machine similar to the one in the café hence I am already familiar with the basics. So far I have been trying out the espresso machine to see exactly how it functions.
I would like to put the basic coffee items on the menu – Espresso, Cappuccino, Latte Macchiato and Americano. Optionally it can be served with soy milk instead of regular milk, also the flavours caramel, vanilla and chocolate are avaiable. After a trial period and several adjustements to the receipts I developed a version unique to this
café. Before being able to actually sell it and put it on the menu there are certain necessary purchases to be made.
By the time I leave I would like the café to be properly equipped and the receipts I adjusted to be on the regular menu so that future interns can make it. In addition to the ACOPIA café activities I have been attending the KPOP dance classes and Korean language classes offered to interns. Dance classes are very fun, even though I don't
dance well... The atmosphere is very relaxed so anyone interested is welcome and doesn't have to feel shy. We have volunteers for Korean teachers nevertheless they explain well and tailor the classes to our preferences.