If you already feel like a zombie while waiting in a long line at your local coffee shop for your morning jolt, do you really need to be further reminded of what death-warmed-over feels like? The Kid Mai Death Awareness Cafe in Bangkok, Thailand, thinks you do and is betting its success on coffee and coffins. As long as the espresso doesn’t taste like embalming fluid …
“This idea came from the research about [the] Buddhist philosophy to create a right – wisdom society in Thailand 4.0. The results found that awareness of death in Buddhism is strong enough to make people recognize their value of life [and] that when they recognize this, their greed and anger will decrease automatically.”
That quote from an interview with Lonely Planet shows just how much thought has gone into the Kid Mai (Think New) café. Veeranut Rojanaprapa is not just the owner, occasional barista and mocha mortician — he’s an assistant professor and social researcher. Thailand 4.0 is the Thai government’s latest and greatest economic model, succeeding Thailand 1.0 (agriculture), Thailand 2.0 (light industry) and Thailand 3.0 (advanced industry). So death with coffee is an economic model? No, but economic prosperity, social well-being, reduced social disparity, raising human values and protecting protect the environment are. A coffee shop is an entrepreneurial business whose product makes everyone feel good, makes everyone stand in the same line and recycles. All it needs to make it Thailand 4.0 complaint is … coffins?
Actually, the entire motif of the Kid Mai Death Café is funeral parlor, but the dominant feature is the coffins. They’re there for the obvious reason – customers are encouraged (by way of a discount) to lay down in one and contemplate their demise. This will also help decide on their order, since the specialties have funereal names like “Death,” “Death Smoothie” and “Painful. (No Last Latte? Morbid Mocha? ‘Death by Hot Chocolate?) If that’s not enough, the decorations include funeral flower arrangements and skeletons occupy some of the seats holding signs explaining how they died. (A collection of photos can be seen here and on their Facebook page)
Does it work? Dr. Rojanaprapa told news.com.au:
“When teenagers go down to the coffin and our staff close the coffin, because of the darkness, because of the small space, they will be aware of themselves … they will recall the things that they still haven’t done.”
Like go to the bathroom first?
The article includes some customer comments and the general complaint is about the atmosphere, not the coffee. That doesn’t seem to bother Dr. Rojanaprapa, who has a typical Buddhist positive attitude.
“I love all of the complaints. Because if they are complaining it means they are thinking about death, they are aware of death.”
They’re probably also aware that Bangkok has a Starbucks on every corner … with no coffins.