Pop-Up Taliesin Tea Shop Is Clad in Shou Sugi Ban

CC BY 2.0. Teaspresso at Taliesin West/ Lloyd Alter

Frank Lloyd Wright would probably have liked this little addition to his winter home.

Everything at Frank Lloyd Wright's winter HQ, Taliesin West, is either designed or influenced by the master. So it was surprising to see this cute little pop-up coffee shop that was very architectural, but a very different style.

looking at Teaspressa from front

Teaspresso at Taliesin West/ Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0It is an outlet for Teaspressa, a Phoenix company founded by Allison DeVane, who makes espresso drinks out of tea. I missed the Shark Tank episode and so I didn't try it, not knowing the backstory and just wanting an iced coffee. I might still have rejected it, had I heard her pitch quoted in a local paper:

I basically decided to Americanize tea. Tea, after water, is the most consumed beverage in the entire world. We drink it here in America, but it’s not as embraced and accepted as coffee, which is made instantly. It gets you going in the morning. I made tea into something that’s more enjoyable.

I am not sure that the world needs Americanized tea, or that it takes very long to make, but never mind, let's talk about the building.

wood close up

Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

It is covered in one of our favourite materials, Shou Sugi Ban, made by burning the surface of cedar to a char and then treating with linseed oil. I described it earlier:

This is a traditional Japanese method of preserving cedar, where it is burned enough to create a layer of char on the outside. The char serves a number of functions: it seals and preserves the wood, it makes it significantly more fire-resistant, and termites and bugs hate it. According to Charred Wood, a supplier of Shou sugi ban, it can last 80 to 100 years without maintenance, and much longer if it is refinished with oil every 10 to 15 years. They call it "a natural, non-toxic way to preserve wood."

Frank Lloyd Wright was profoundly influenced by Japanese design, and often played with patterns. He might have liked the way this was all screwed together.

Teaspressa closeup

Teaspressa at Taliesin West/ Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

I wrote the company to ask who designed the cute little shop but have not received a response. It is not, to my mind, a perfect little pop-up; the sunshade is a bit clunky, and I was also surprised to see such a big air conditioner for such a teeny building.

But it is lovely, and as they say at the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, "this local partnership aims to foster community throughout the Valley advancing the way we build and live. The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation is dedicated to pursuing new innovations and inspiring local innovators through the partnership." Every tiny building should get so much care and consideration.

Teaspressa interior

Teaspressa at Taliesin West/ Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0