Entrepreneur

The Story Behind This Matcha Brand You’ve Spotted In Some Of KL’s Most Popular Cafés

Since day one, Niko Neko Matcha has been introducing matcha to the public with one main goal—to ensure that matcha becomes part of a modern person’s lifestyle.

To further that goal, in October last year, Niko Neko Matcha launched its first concept store, Niko Neko / The Concept Store which is located along Lorong Maarof in Bangsar.

“Most of our first-time customers looked surprised when they walk in because they had a little tricky time in finding our store,” said Syun, co-founder of Niko Neko Matcha.

“They also didn’t expect the space to be as what they saw when they first got in.”

Having conversations over matcha

Syun’s intention is to let the customers physically “feel” a full package of Niko Neko Matcha experience at the concept store.

That includes finding this hidden store, entering into their space, taking your order and sipping on matcha drinks while listening to their music played in-store

Niko Neko Matcha started off as a mainly web-based business, fulfilling online orders and servicing café clients.

Their transition from an online store to a physical concept store helped them to understand the customers’ needs and what to improve in order to constantly provide a better experience to them. 

The ‘Paper Dome’ in the store is made with more than 1,300 pieces of hand-folded paper, arranged to create a dome shape hanging structure / Image Credit: Niko Neko Matcha

“Being able to see our customers face-to-face and communicate with them gives us a different view on their needs and, more importantly, befriend with them,” he said.

The concept store’s “minimalistic” ambience is a mirror representation of Niko Neko Matcha’s brand. Every single design and arrangement of the store revolves around its brand image.

Syun and his team tweaked the order process and menu so they could easily educate every customer while they make orders at the counter. They explain to the customers about the types of their tea selection, its taste and special offerings.

Image Credit: Niko Neko Matcha

Once the customers step into the concept store, they will have a whole new matcha experience, and the team hopes that the customers take their new-found knowledge about matcha with them as they leave.

Win-win collaborations

Niko Neko Matcha is currently serving more than 500 cafés nationwide and worldwide.

You might have noticed that many popular cafés such as Tokyo Restaurant, Yellow Brick Road, Bean Brothers, Jaslyn Cakes, and VCR Cafe use Niko Neko Matcha powder for desserts and drinks.

Their matcha products are sold online and at selected stockists including Ben’s Independent Grocer and Snackfood.

To the team, collaborations and partnerships with different bakers and brands help to create truly one-of-a-kind experiences. Also, it is important to work with the right people who can appreciate what Niko Neko Matcha do.

“It is always about creating something fresh and new together in which we couldn’t have done alone,” Syun added. “It is very crucial for the partnership to bring benefits to both by leveraging on each other’s specialities.”

They actively promote their café partners on social media so that they could leverage their followers and make sure they gain more awareness and publicity.

Niko Neko Matcha offers private workshops and knowledge sharing sessions with their café partners to improve their knowledge about matcha and Japanese tea better.

The team’s favourite ongoing collaboration is with The Tokyo Restaurant. The result is the matcha version of The Tokyo Restaurant’s signature dessert, 6th Avenue Burnt Cheesecake, using Niko Neko Matcha’s YURI pure matcha powder.

L-R: A latte made of Niko Neko Matcha’s powder; The Tokyo Restaurant’s matcha burnt cheesecake / Image Credit: Niko Neko Matcha

This collaboration is definitely a win for Niko Neko Matcha’s brand—The Tokyo Restaurant’s burnt cheesecake has become the byword for burnt cheesecakes in KL.

Re-introducing Malaysians to matcha and Japanese tea

Creating awareness about the quality of matcha among the public has always been Niko Neko Matcha’s main goal, and obstacle.

Not many people know about the quality difference of various matcha powders. The assumption is that matcha powders should taste very bitter and strong but it is actually not.

“High-quality matcha tastes very delicate and smooth, high in umami taste (broth/soupy and creamy) and not bitter at all, or has less bitterness,” Syun highlighted.

The team recently launched tea bag ranges which offer various health benefits.

Image Credit: Niko Neko Matcha

This tea bag range should make tea even more accessible and easy to brew at home. The product has potential for purposes of scaling and consumer-friendly usage, which hints at their grander ambitions for expansion.

“Offering our artisan tea bags would be great for those who prefer convenience in brewing as compared to matcha which requires more steps in preparation,” Syun said.

And that is also in line with Niko Neko Matcha’s plans to expand the concept store across Malaysia and overseas when the right time comes.

  • Niko Neko: The Concept Store is located at Lorong Maarof in Bangsar. You can find out more about Niko Neko Matcha on Facebook and Instagram. You can purchase their products online here.

Feature Image Credit: Niko Neko Matcha

 

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