The Seven Signs You are in a Hipster Cafe

Joachim Leong once again enlightens us on one of Malaysia’s recent oddities, the hipster cafe.

You walk into a cafe led by your need for caffeine. Before you know it, you have entered a den of hipsters acting anything but mainstream and pooh-pooh-ing everything you do, from the way you sip your coffee to your fashion sense.

Besides writing them off, here are seven signs you should heed to identify the hipster-ness for a cafe to avoid at all costs unless the cafe’s coffee is awesome).

1) Music

You can tell the moment you hear the music playing. Here are among the list of bands that have been red flagged:

  1. Any bands from the (500) days of Summer soundtrack
  2. 90s music (ie Radiohead, Travis)
  3. Kings of Convenience, and
  4. How to Kill a King

Feel free to add to the list and annoy hipsters in the comments below as to whether these songs are mainstream and therefore, un-hipster.

2) The baristas

Look behind the bar.

For more hipster barista memes, see here.

You will know them by their tattoos, their beard, their exposed chests. Forget whether the coffee is freshly roasted or freshly brewed or whether the shot is pulled well. How good your coffee is depends on the length of your barista’s beard. True story.

3) Architectural exposure

You will notice exposed brick walls or partially covered walls with glossy cement, exposed bulbs/wiring and, of course, exposed chests. A hipster never fears exposure.


There is great, deep philosophical value in exposure. Among other things.

(Oh, faux pas exposed brick walls do not count.)

4) The writing on the wall

If you enter and you see chalk-written menus or lists written on walls (what is this, kindergarten?), the writing is on the wall — you are in a hipster cafe.

You will be judged.

5) Junk

Got an old bicycle, maybe? Stuff from grandma’s house which she doesn’t need anymore because she can’t remember it’s hers anyway? Eureka! Perfect stuff to fill your hipster cafe.

If you feel like you’re back at grandma’s, you’re possibly in a hipster cafe.

Can’t tell if at grandma’s or a hipster cafe....

6) Clientele

Hipsters come in all shapes and sizes and tattoos. There are your hipster activists, your plain vanilla hipsters, your political hipsters, your wannabe hipsters, the hipsters in denial and of course, the stoned hipsters.

Approach with caution.

7) Murals/artwork

Hipster enough for you?

Art. The lifeblood of hipsters. Cut off their supply and watch them ironically melt away into puddles of water. Therefore, art will be a very necessary part of the hipster café, usually in the form of art or painted murals.

After all, don’t hipsters need a nice background for their Instagram and their Macbooks?


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Egoistic? Ego-manical? Too philosophical? Reading between the lines? Trying too hard? Or just plain cheeky? Good, you're asking the wrong questions. Sometimes, we need to make all the right mistakes. Tweet at him - @jleongmy

Posted on 1 August 2013. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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