The city of Taipei is a bustling place full of people, cars and neon-signs. Amidst that storm of stimulus rests a beacon of tranquillity and peace; a coffee shop called Nido.
It’s late in the afternoon when I take the MRT metro to the City Hall station of Taipei. The crowd inside the MRT is packed like cattle and I manage to get inside by squeezing myself up against the persons in front of me. They don’t mind, it seems almost normal for them to be crammed up like this. It’s only a couple of stations, but it seems like more people want to get onboard each station. I can’t wait to get out of the MRT and into the open streets again. When we arrive at City Hall I follow the masses to the exit and realise that the MRT isn’t the only crowded spot in Taipei at this time of day. The streets are packed with taxi’s, cars, bikes and scooters. The side-walk is crowded with finely dressed men and women trying to get home or grab a bite to eat. It’s a short walk from the MRT to Nido; the place I am going to and know nothing about. I make my way through the masses and catch a glimpse of the 101-tower. The majestic landmark stands tall and looms over the bright city of Taipei; I really need to go to the top next time I am here.
Nido: nowhere to be found
After a short walk I have arrived at the spot where Nido should be, but it isn’t. Nido is nowhere to be found. I make my way along the shops, peeking inside each and every one. I step inside a restaurant and ask the waitress if she knows where Nido is located. She shrugs and either doesn’t know, or isn’t able to explain in English how to get there. A western looking guy gives me a clueless look. An English speaking Taiwanese has never even heard of Nido before. I walk around the block and check for the entrance there, but as soon as I peek inside the dark alley I dismiss that notion. I finally step inside a shop that is being refurbished and ask the construction-worker if he knows where to find Nido. To my surprise he guides me to a grey steel door next to that shop. AI see a small column of doorbells and a small placard that says: Nido. Finally.
Nido: Opera and silence
I press the doorbell and wait for a few seconds. Suddenly I hear a loud noise and the grey steel door pops open. Quickly I open the door and start to make my way up the concrete steps. A young man passes me by and nods with a knowing smile as if to say: “You are almost there, welcome”. I stand in front of a blank door with no name on it. I hesitantly open it and step inside a room with diffused lighting. In front of me are two young guy’s whispering over a cup of coffee, soft opera music fills the room with a relaxing vibe. The counter is empty safe for a small miniature set-up of three toy animals and a wooden structure. There is another couple that I didn’t notice at first. They are sitting around the corner working on their laptops in silence. There is no chattering, no loud music and no flashy gimmicky signs or menu’s. Nido is a place of silence, peace and tranquillity.
I introduce myself while whispering to the tall Taiwanese guy behind the counter. His name is Bruce Yang, the owner of Nido, and he works here alone. He asks what I want to drink and points to the menu hanging on the wall. There are only four options for coffee: Nido blend, single origin coffee, coffee x tea and milk coffee. That’s it. When I ask him what he recommends he points towards the ‘coffee x tea’. “You drink it first, then I will explain what you had.” he whispers, and starts to prepare my drink.
Nido: come to your senses.
I take a stool at the bar and look around as I feel stress and haste leave my body and mind. Besides the whispers of the two guys, the only thing you hear is the Brazilian classical jazz that took over from the opera just now. A small spot on the counter is occupied by LEGO structures and when I take a closer look, I realise that each colourful LEGO structure is a set-up on which to brew coffee. The interior is made out of natural materials and makes the place seem spacious even-though it isn’t. This place could be packed with people, and you still wouldn’t notice anyone sitting here. What a lovely place to escape the bustling city that is only a few yards away.
I feel a bit guilty for wanting to ask questions, but Bruce tells me it’s okay. As long as I keep my voice down and don’t interrupt the other customers it seems okay to chat a little. Bruce always wanted a coffee-shop of his own and in 2010 he opened up Nido. Nido would be a place where you could really enjoy coffee, work a little and come to your senses. Not for socializing with your friends. At first Nido was located at the ground floor, but too many people came inside and the noises from the street interrupted the sense of tranquillity. He decided to move one floor up; making it harder to find Nido and making sure that the only ones visiting this place were people who knew about Nido and what it stands for.
Nido: Leave the city behind.
My coffee is brewed and when I take a sip, I get slapped in the face by wonderful flavours and scents. Since ‘not knowing’ what you are drinking is also a part of the experience that you get while visiting Nido, I will not tell you anything about the tasting notes. I will tell you, however, that the coffee is brewed with a percentage of Oolong tea. This complements the Japanese-style roasted coffee and gives more character to the drink. The Nido blend, on the other hand, is well crafted and let’s you experience a totally different array of flavours and scents.
The other customers soon leave but we keep talking in whispers. Bruce is a very friendly guy who knows a lot about coffee. He is proud to have created a place where you can get a cup of coffee until midnight. Where people come and enjoy themselves. A place where you can leave the city behind and let go of all your stress if only for a while. I soon leave and head out into the jungle of noises, people and neon-lights. I know I will come back again. Because amidst that storm of stimulus rests a beacon of tranquillity and peace; a coffee shop called Nido.