A cof­fee shop that of­fers magic shows

The China Post - - LOCAL - BY JOHN LIU

If you are in­ter­ested in magic, and if you also like cof­fee, then you might want to check out Ris­ing Sun Cof­fee ( ), the only cafe that of­fers magic shows in Tai­wan.

Opened last Septem­ber, the cafe serves as a plat­form for ma­gi­cians who want to prac­tice their skills, said its 25-year-old owner Prada Peng ( ), who is a ma­gi­cian him­self.

Ran­dom magic shows are pro­vided on week­ends, while larg­er­scale magic par­ties are held ev­ery month. The magic party has var­i­ous themes and changes with sea­son. For ex­am­ple, a Christ­mas party was held last De­cem­ber, and a Chi­nese New Year party in Fe­bru­ary.

At­ten­dants will be able to en­joy a 1.5-2 hour magic show for a NT$350 en­trance fee that also in­cludes a drink and a dessert. Magic stunts are car­ried out through dif­fer­ent forms, in­clud­ing in­ter­ac­tion with the au­di­ence.

Given its lim­ited fi­nan­cial re­ward, en­gag­ing in arts and cul­tural per­for­mance is rel­a­tively dif­fi­cult in Tai­wan. Un­will­ing to give up his love for magic, Peng opened a cof­fee shop that gives him­self as well as fel­low ma­gi­cians a venue to prac­tice their trade.

At Ris­ing Sun Cof­fee, ma­gi­cians are free to in­no­vate and cre­ate their own magic shows, and not be con­strained by re­quire­ments that may be im­posed in other busi­ness set­tings. There is “more room for arts per­for­mance” at the cafe, Peng stressed.

Part­ner­ship with Name Brands

Peng’s team ( Sunny Magic) started out by mak­ing stage props and pro­vid­ing cus­tom- de­signed ser­vices for ma­gi­cians. Their ex­per­tise helped the team in­vent new magic tricks.

Peng has pock­eted the Award for Ex­cel­lence in Ma­nip­u­la­tion at the 2010 RIC In­ter­na­tional Magic Con­ven­tion, and won third place in the pro­fes­sional di­vi­sion of the 2010 Qing­shui Ma.

His team has also gained some trac­tion. They re­cently per­formed at Taipei Film Fes­ti­val’s open­ing cer­e­mony, and has part­nered with cos­metic name brands such as SKII, Kiehl’s and Shu Ue­mura.

“If you have never used a prod­uct, and when I ex­plain to you its func­tion­al­ity or ben­e­fits, you may be amazed by the prod­uct’s power,” Peng said, adding that it is sim­i­lar to magic.

What Peng’s team has been do­ing is help­ing busi­nesses pack­age new prod­ucts ac­com­pa­nied with magic shows to in­crease prod­uct ap­peal and high­light their mag­i­cal pow­ers.

Push for Spe­cialty

Cof­fee Drink­ing

How­ever, tak­ing Ris­ing Sun Cof­fee merely as lever­age to make a foray into the magic in­dus­try would be an un­der­state­ment. The main mo­tive for open­ing the cof­fee shop is to pro­mote “spe­cialty cof­fee,” ac­cord­ing to Peng.

The cof­fee bean is in fact a type of fruit, and like berries or le­mons, has a tinge of acid­ity with its unique fla­vor. Ris­ing Sun uses light or medium roast pro­cesses to pre­serve the cof­fee’s orig­i­nal fla­vor.

The dif­fer­ent types of roast­ing pro­cesses vary in the amount of time it takes or tem­per­a­ture ap­plied to roast cof­fee beans.

The dark roast process -- the third ma­jor roast­ing method -- can over­burn cof­fee beans to ren­der a bit­ter taste, de­priv­ing them of their orig­i­nal fla­vor and fra­grance, or “pri­mal aroma as picked from the tree,” Peng said.

Deep roast­ing may car­bonize cof­fee beans and pro­duce harm­ful tar too, ac­cord­ing to Peng. Light and medium roasted cof­fees, iden­ti­fied by their rel­a­tively light color, are there­fore more healthy too.

Only qual­ity cof­fee beans can with­stand the test of light and medium roast pro­cesses, since af­ter be­ing treated with these pro­cesses, bad or rot­ten beans will be easily no­ticed in the drink, Peng noted.

If treated by the deep roast­ing process, how­ever, all the cof­fee beans will con­tain the uni­ver­sal bit­ter fla­vor. Sug­ars and milk will need to be added to en­hance fla­vor, and then “you would not be able to taste the real fla­vor of cof­fee,” Peng said.

In­sis­tence on Qual­ity Cof­fee

“We are con­fi­dent of our cof­fee’s qual­ity, and thus use the light and medium roast pro­cesses. There is a sweet af­ter­taste and a high de­gree of fra­grance in it. This is sim­i­lar to wine tast­ing.”

Deep roasted or com­mer­cial beans are cul­ti­vated via mass pro­duc­tion. The end prod­uct’s longer preser­va­tion time and lower prices are its two main ad­van­tages.

By adopt­ing al­ter­nate ap­proaches, Ris­ing Sun uses cof­fee beans of a higher cost. That’s why Peng does not con­tract any­one to per­form the roast­ing. In fact, his fam­ily has been in the cof­fee-bean roast­ing busi­ness for years and even sold cof­fee beans to oth­ers.

In or­der to ex­tract the aroma out of cof­fee, there is a unique roast­ing method for each type of cof­fee bean, Peng ex­plained, adding that this is a very tech­ni­cal task.

By in­te­grat­ing his pas­sion in magic and a high-de­gree of knowhow in the cof­fee busi­ness, Peng sep­a­rated him­self from oth­ers and is now trav­el­ing with con­fi­dence and keen­ness on the road of entrepreneurship.

John Liu

(Top) Prada Peng ( ), right, poses for a photo with his girl­friend at Ris­ing Sun Cof­fee ( ) in Taipei in July. The cof­fee shop of­fers light and medium roasted cof­fee that is said to pre­serve cof­fee’s orig­i­nal fla­vor. (Above) A poster that ad­ver­tises a magic show party is shown in the pic­ture. In ad­di­tion to week­end magic shows, a larger-scale magic party is held at the Ris­ing Sun Cof­fee ev­ery month. The show’s theme can be sea­sonal, such as a Christ­mas or a Chi­nese New Year party.

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