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Hidden cafe at UBD library
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Not too long ago, UBD had a vision for its students and staff: a space for them to unwind and recharge amidst their busy schedules. What better way is there to refuel an exhausted mind than with a cup of freshly brewed coffee? That vision became a reality when Eeshu, the co-owner of a popular coffee kiosk, opened R&C Café right in the heart of UBD.

R&C Café is nestled in the business wing of UBD’s library and is a welcome site for those seeking refuge from the hustle and bustle of today’s busy lifestyle. During the semester, the café would be brimming with students, lecturers and admin staff alike, all flocking to get their caffeine fix. Though when school’s out, the café becomes a much quieter spot.

The first things you’ll notice when you walk into the café are the floor-to-ceiling windows that take up 2 of the walls. This allows natural light to flood the space making it feel spacious and airy. This is offset by the dark grey tiles and the grey-toned lavender wall behind the coffee counter. These are, however, part of UBD’s design for the library and the space that Eeshu had to make into her café’s base of operations.

The design rationale behind R&C Café was simple: the interior design had to fit into the existing space. “Since this is UBD’s building, we have to respect this space so we didn’t paint the walls or change any of the fixtures,” Eeshu tells BHC, “But at the same time, we did not want to look out of place”. This circumstance understandably posed limits on design options, so a lot of thought had to be put into the interior design. Eeshu explained that they didn’t want anything obscure and planned for the interior to meld with the provided space and furniture. The furniture provided by UBD were executive-style sofas and coffee tables so she had to find a style that would complement them and at the same time, to decorate with her own taste in mind. This led her to find creative ways to fit into this space and she chose to express her creativity through her selection of furniture and decorations.

Standing high among the sofas and coffee tables are bar stools and bar tables that provide patrons a nice elevated view of the café. The small clusters of bar stools add pops of colour as there are yellow, blue and red metal seats. These bring a nice contrast to their metallic black legs and the dark bar tables. In the center of the café is a long wooden-topped bar table with 8 dark brown bar stools. For those who want to enjoy their cuppa with a view, there are also 2 long bar tables placed against the floor-to-ceiling windows each with 6 wooden bar stools. The seats on one of the tables face the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. The other table’s seats overlook one side of the old library and the Central Lecture Theatre. The view on this side is framed with greenery and is definitely a great spot for anyone seeking temporary solace. Eeshu brought in all of the furniture from her trips to China and Malaysia. She paid particular attention to what kind of designs she wanted to furnish the space with. This resulted in the café having its own unique style that can only be described as executive hipster. At full capacity, the café can accommodate 55 people.

As for the decorations, Eeshu has taken a minimal approach. Though the decorations do not particularly stand out, they would definitely put a smile on your face once you notice them. Scattered around the café are quotes about friendship and coffee. Some are thoughtful while others are playful, a few are large and lightly coloured while others are smaller and darker toned, and some are hung in plain sight while one is hidden on a little nook by the window. UBD’s installation of indoor street lamps and the classic style bicycle propped up against on the pillars make the café feel a bit like, “an outdoor Parisian café,” Eeshu beams.

The specialty at R&C Café is of course the coffee which is freshly brewed with every order. There is a wide range of espresso-based beverages on the menu including macchiato, Americano, and mocha just to name a few. They also serve their own special RnC Blend which is espresso blended with gula anau that makes for a refreshing caffeine boost. For those craving for something other than coffee, they also have a wide variety of organic tea and ice blended drinks with flavours like peanut butter cocoa, cotton candy, and mango.

There is also a wide array of sweet and savoury pastries to choose from as well as cakes, sandwiches and freshly cut fruit. Much like the interior design, the food menu was also dependent on the limitations of operating in a UBD building. “Since this is a library, we’ve opted out from using stoves, so we have to be inventive with how we serve warm food to customers,” Eeshu explains, adding that they use air-fryers for cooked items like their wedges and chicken wings. One of their popular food items is their spaghetti, which is made fresh daily and warmed up before serving. Even though they are unable to cook in their kitchen, R&C Café ensures the freshness of all their menu items.

So whether you’re from UBD or simply looking for a new café to try out, R&C Café is worth a visit. With its unique interior, fresh menu and scholarly locale, you will definitely have an enriching break. Maybe going back to school isn’t such a bad thing after all.

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