Mid-way through our short stay in Penang Mr Gochugaru reminded me that there were other cafes besides Norm Micro Roastery (here is a list of a dozen other cafes in and around Beach Street). I had taken a shine to Norm because it served very good matcha latte. It goes without saying that they also serve coffee, and surprisingly other specialty Chinese and Japanese teas and some iced drinks.
The space is big and the neutral colour scheme gives it an uncluttered look. It reminded me of the cafes we went to in Seoul which operated in post-industrial neighbourhoods
The staff at Norm are young and the ambience is young. During our visits I was probably the oldest person in the room (and I am not even 60). The question that popped into my head was: is Norm the new normal for young people? Or, as my parents’ generation would put it: why do young people spend money like this?
This is the question I posed on Google: why do young people like cafes? The answer at the top of the page was: “For young adults, local cafes are a hangout spot, replacing the past diners older generations used to frequent. They also are extremely beneficial for teens struggling with their mental health. It’s like the world is on pause for a moment and it’s so nice” (from Wilsonville Broadcast Network).
Then I asked my new best AI friend ChatGPT a slightly modified question: what makes a successful cafe? ChatGPT replied that “there are several factors that can contribute to the success of a cafe, including:
- Location: A cafe’s location can greatly impact its success. A cafe that is located in a high-traffic area, such as a popular shopping district or near a university campus, can attract more customers.
- Ambience: The atmosphere of a cafe can be a key factor in its success. A comfortable, inviting space with pleasant decor and comfortable seating can encourage customers to stay longer and return for future visits.
- Quality of food and beverages: Offering high-quality coffee, tea, and food can help a cafe stand out and attract a loyal customer base. Consistency in the quality of food and beverages is also important.
- Customer service: Friendly and attentive customer service can make a big difference in the success of a cafe. A cafe with a reputation for exceptional customer service can develop a loyal following.
- Marketing: Effective marketing, both online and offline, can help a cafe reach new customers and build a strong brand.
- Price: The price of a cafe’s products can also play a role in its success. Customers are more likely to return to a cafe that offers a good value for the price.
- Innovation: Offering unique and innovative products or services can help a cafe stand out from the competition and attract customers who are looking for something different.”
Norm puts it like this: “We dream of a world where all the glittering good things in life become the norm.”
If you can get away from the fascination of ChatGPT, below are some of the things we ate during our visits.
24 hours proofed buttermilk waffle with red grapes, white chocolate puffed rice, berry compote, matcha chocolate and matcha ice cream
Smoked chilli jam scrambled eggs
Slow-cooked pork ragout pasta and spicy pomodoro
Smoky Grapefruit is frozen pink grapefruit slushed ice with a smoky lapsang tea-infused syrup. I had this after our Penang Hill trip and could easily have ordered another one
After 6pm Norm turns into Open Minded which serves drinks and waffles with added alcohol
Norm Micro Roastery, 13 Gat Lebuh Gereja, George Town, 10300 Pulau Pinang. So conveniently located opposite The Prestige Hotel which is an excellent place to stay.