Cafe Co.

Helping people in Taipei discover and save their favorite cafe


Product Designer


Jan - Mar, 2021 (3 Months)


Allen Su (iOS Engineer), Garcia Lu (Back-end Engineer), Alfred Chen (Back-end Engineer)


Product Design
Four cafe co app screenshots on a beige background

💡 The app has been translated for this portfolio 💡


Why cafe?

In Taiwan, cafes have gradually become a unique culture. With Simple Kaffa from Taipei, Taiwan listed as No.1 on Big 7’s Best Coffee Shops in the world, Taiwan has become a rising hub of cafes with personality. You can always find unique cafes and enjoy their atmosphere. 

And I’m a huge cafe guy. I even blog about them on Instagram, and I love to explore cafes.


Finding a good cafe in Taipei is overwhelming and inefficient

Over the years in Taipei, I often encountered pain points of cafe search and “saved” cafe organization as well. There are simply too many cafes in Taipei, and it’s hard to find a good cafe that really suits my needs. It’s often a hit or miss. 

Thus, after discussion with a friend, we realized there’s an opportunity to help people find and organize cafes effectively. And that was when Cafe Co started.


The go-to app for cafe goers in Taipei

Over the span of three months, we created the MVP of Cafe Co, a mobile app that helps young cafe goers in Taipei easily find a cafe that fits their needs. Users can find new cafes using customizable search or the “nearby cafes” map search.

Find a cafe with intent 🔍

Whether you like a specific cafe style or only go to a cafe with outlets and Wi-Fi, the filter system will help you find those cafes. 

Find nearby cafes on map 📌

Just want to quickly find a cafe nearby? Check out all the cafes near your location!

Easily save & organize your cafes 🔖

No need to switch between Google Maps and Instagram. Save and organize your great finds all in one place.


End to end product design

As the sole designer, I was responsible for the entire end-to-end design, from conducting research to delivering the final crafts. In addition, I worked closely with the three engineers to bring the MVP version to life. 


Launch the iOS MVP app by end of March 2021

This was our main goal all along. And we all worked hard to try to accomplish this goal. 


Understanding the cafe app market & users

During the majority of this project, I was actually serving in the Taiwanese military. With only weekends left to work, I had to be quick with my decisions and plan everything well. So, here were the methods I used:

A diagram that illustrates that I chose competitive analysis to understand existing product. And I used interviews & surveys to understand the users.

Got to be quick!! ⚡

Competitive analysis

We wanted to know if there were any existing products out there that tried to solve the same problem. Based on our research, we found that there aren’t many well-established cafe search apps in the market. 

Now, we did find a promising platform called Cafe Nomad. It had a massive database of cafes in Taiwan. After using it, we identified some advantages and disadvantages of the platform for our project.

A database icon on a green background

Enormous database

Cafe Nomad has data for over 3k users in Taiwan - an astonishing number. We decided to use their open source API for our MVP.

A filter icon on a green background

Customizable filter

This feature is available after subscription. We like how this can make cafe search more efficient.

A metro icon on a green background

Filter by MRT / Filter by “Work”

These are two great filters that will make cafe search a lot faster. 

A confused avatar icon on a red background


The cafe list is out there. Find the cafe yourself. Large list has its downside: users can get very overwhelmed. 

A paintbrush icon on a red background

Old UI

We believe the overall visual style can be improved upon.

User interviews

To test for the demand and understand our potential user’s cafe search process, we conducted 7 rounds of interviews with young cafe-goers. They go to a cafe at least once per week in Taipei. I then used affinity mapping to organize the qualitative insights. 

Affinity mapping highlighting how I organized all the qualitative data

Affinity mapping 🗺️

And based on the user interviews, I synthesized my notes and wrote down these insights:

01 | Instagram is the primary search tool 🔎
This was surprising because none of us used Instagram to find cafes. Every interviewee uses Instagram daily and follows cafe blog accounts, so they can sometimes find interesting cafes just by scrolling.

02 | “Work” & “Drink Coffee” ☕
These are the top incentives to go to a cafe.

03 | Cafe go-ers use Instagram, Google Map, or both to organize cafes ✍️
One noticeable insight is that a few of our interviewees find it inconvenient to switch between apps.


Based on the interviews, we formulated questions for an online survey. In the end, we received 30 responses from people in the Facebook group “Taiwan cafe community”. Here were the key insights: 

Screenshots of the survey results that shows the purpose of going to cafes, factors to look for in a cafe, and more.

Survey results

Based on the interviews, we formulated questions for an online survey. In the end, we received 30 responses from people in the Facebook group “Taiwan cafe community”. Here were the key insights: 

01 | It’s efficient to find a new cafe 😓“Sometimes the reviews aren’t objective, so I have to go through a ton of community pages or blogs about the cafe.”

02 | Top incentive to go to a cafe - Work 78% 💻Relaxation (58%) and hangout (53%) were next.

03 | Top factors people look for in a cafe - Drinks 82.6% & No Time Limit 82.6%)These insights directly shaped our design decision when defining the preset categories for customizable search. 


Lots of sketching and communicating

I sketched low fidelity wireframes to settle on the app visual structure and share my work with the engineers early on. Then, I created mid-fidelity wireframes to build out the interactions and flows. 

Paper wireframes of my initial sketches for cafe co

The very early sketches 😆

Mid-fidelity wireframes for the cafe co app

Mid-fidelity wireframes 📱

One thing to note is that after discussion with our iOS engineer, we decided to take out elements such as a filter bar on a map view since we had a tight deadline for our MVP launch. 


Our first beta testing

MVP of Cafe Co

We used the MVP prototype that our engineer built for our first beta testing with 7 users. 


A category icon on a red background

"Category" vs "Conditions"

People were confused about the difference. In reality, "category" is a shortcut to select multiple "conditions" at once.

A document icon on a red background

Need more information about the cafe

Minimum cost, time to arrive, can reserve: There are a lot of things the users want to know about a cafe to make a decision to go or not.

A bookmark icon on a red background

Want to save cafes in the app

This was a feature we didn't test during the MVP beta because we realized it'll take a lot of time.

Change 1 | Naming

We changed "category" and "conditions" to "quick filter" and "filter by" to show the relation between the two fields.

Change 2 | More cafe information

We added a variety of new information that will be displayed when the user selects a cafe. This will help them make better-informed decisions.

Two screens showcasing the new elements added to the cafe information such as travel time, closest mrt station, and more

Change 3 | Save cafes

This was a highly requested feature by the users. Though we weren't able to implement it, I still explored what it can be like to save cafes.

A user flow showing how to save a cafe to a list
final designs

Introducing Cafe Co!

The go-to app for any cafe goers to easily find and organize their favorite cafes ☕

A mock banner for cafe co app

An amazing learning experience

In the end, we did not end up launching the iOS app due to Covid outbreak in Taipei and gradual return to school. However, I did take some more time to envision what the app could ideally look like, which is showcased in the Solution section. 

As my first passion project with my friends, this was incredibly fun and rewarding to do. And I learned so much during this project.

01 | Test as soon as possible 🧪
Speed is king for this project. Initially, I was fixated on the overall vision of the app. Luckily, speaking to the engineers helped me only design the essential feature for our first beta tests.

02 | Consider different end-users  🗣️
We realized this much later, but we didn’t really consider the perspective of cafe owners. We should have talked to them early in the process to understand their needs & incentives for using our app.

03 | How to work with engineers 💻
This was the first time I worked with multiple engineers. This project helped me understand different engineer's perspective and what they value.