NOC Co-founder, Benny Leung, on Curating the Coffee Experience

7 DEC 2021

Pinning our new store at Empire Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui, NOC is pushing the boundaries of the ultimate coffee experience. NOC is not only behind one of the most modern interiors, but the coffee is proving just as on-point, all presented in an immersive space made up of the signature NOC colors – pure white, cement grey, natural wood, and of course, lush greenery.

Sitting at the cozy lounge area with Benny Leung, the co-founder of NOC guides us through his philosophy, from space design to operating a business.

Q: What is the ethos behind the space design for NOC Empire Centre?

For the design of each location, I work closely with Edwin Chow from ARKAUNIS Design Studio, who is extremely passionate and thoughtful in space design. NOC Empire Centre marks our fourth collaboration, where he furthers our vision of minimalism and innovation at this new location.

If you observe more closely, the design of every NOC store echoes its locale. NOC Empire Centre is no exception. The “NOC Lounge” is designed to fulfill our wanderlust in the pandemic. Back in the pre-pandemic days, I enjoyed the time in airport lounges before flying, with a cup of coffee and some bites. So being in this area, customers could indulge in their travel memories, even if it’s just for a moment.

Q: Which part of the store is your favorite?

For me, it’s not about the specific parts of the store, but more so the layout. From the coffee bar to the ceiling, and even to the Moru glass panels at the storefront, they all are designed in an arced shape. It’s more than just a design; rather, I like pushing boundaries by exploring new concepts, which includes new structural shapes and materials.

Q: Tell us more about the store itself. What’s new?

With the CBD hype in the city, we’ve also introduced cannabidiol onto our menu, exclusive only at NOC Empire Centre. Try out the “Liquid LIFE™ CBD Infused Coffee”, for whoever wants to loosen up their minds.

As much as the “Liquid LIFE™ CBD Infused Coffee” is about adding a fresh touch to our brand, it is about tightening the grip on our brand ethos. To me, nothing is more important than holding on to consistency. It all comes back down to providing the top-notch coffee experience that refreshes our minds.

Q: What’s the edge that separates NOC from the rest?

NOC is all about giving our customers a cohesive feeling. Rather than just serving coffee, we are curating an immersive coffee experience for our customers. NOC is many things, and that’s why we’re named “Not Only Coffee”. And for what NOC really is, it’s left to our customers to feel – and fill.

To create the perfect environment for relaxation, our interior design sets the tone. In our cozy spaces, our customers can slow down and forget the urban stress for a while. But what’s most important are the strengths of NOC, which is divided into three pillars: our staff service, consistent product quality, and our relentless attention to detail.

Q: What have you enjoyed most about running NOC?

Smooth operations. I’m not the kind of person who only looks at numbers and sales, because the process of building a brand is crucial to me. We run the brand believing less is more. For me, I focus on the small steps. Over time, when all the bits and pieces combine together, it becomes a large dream in the making.

For example, when our staff serves our customers coffee, they will introduce the drink and ask them to “enjoy!” with a warm smile. That’s a simple gesture, but it matters so much when it comes to creating a welcoming atmosphere. And all these tiny details make up the cohesive experience.

Aside from that, the space design is just a bonus, it’s only the first impression to our customers, but they won’t come back only for this reason.

Q: What are you working on now? Could you share what NOC has in store for 2022 with us?

We’ll continue to open additional stores at a thoughtful pace. And we are making a deeper correlation with art and sustainability – inspiring us to incorporate recycled materials into our upcoming location. What we are doing goes beyond our passion for coffee. We hope to contribute to our community and our environment.

Expanding the business is not the only thing I strive for. Equally important to me is the ability to create something to inspire people, and that has long been a passion of mine. Our mission is to turn NOC into a platform of passion as well as inspiration. It is a place for enthusiasts to learn, share and practice. And once they’re ready, they’ll go chase their dreams.