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Engaging Communities One Roast at a Time

Infusing local flavour from each community keeps the designs freshly brewed.

Vancouver, BC (Also now in Toronto, ON!)

A Community's Lounge

Providing great coffee is only a small portion of what JJ Bean seeks to contribute in the communities they serve. Like DIALOG, JJ Bean is committed to having a positive impact on their communities by providing interactive and engaging spaces. In the heart of the city or off a small tree-lined street, each JJ Bean inspires warmth and a sense of belonging with the clientele and their neighbourhood. Working together for over a decade has led to a long-time partnership and great understanding of one another.We’ve been designing JJ Bean coffee shops for the past 15 years. Each location has a unique design story drawn from the local community. JJ Bean’s values align with our approach to design. They’re interested in the community they’re serving and actively seek to add value to it. We’ve been designing JJ Bean coffee shops for the past 15 years. Each location has a unique design story drawn from the local community. JJ Bean’s values align with our approach to design. They’re interested in the community they’re serving and actively seek to add value to it.

Cambie Village

An inherited project site, JJ Bean’s Cambie Village location used to be a general store that serviced the quiet residential community of South Vancouver. The old building was well loved, but falling apart, and required rejuvenation through structural upgrades to the walls and facade. These upgrades allowed us to amplify the space with light through large skylights and sliding patio doors that also physically connect with the community, and blur the edges of interior/exterior. Through community engagement we learned about the importance of the general store’s external mural. The wall, crumbling had to be replaced. To pay respect to the past, DIALOG borrowed colours from the pre-existing mural and painted a new ‘gift’ for the community. The ghosted “Cambie General Store” sign retains some of the weathered character and serves as a backdrop to the new JJ Bean sign, paying homage to the site’s history, as a vital meeting place of this residential neighbourhood.


Bidwell, located in Vancouver’s West End, sits at the bottom of a tower that purposefully maintained the exterior façade of what was a ‘Mission Style’ old beauty school, turned night club, then restaurant. When DIALOG arrived to revamp the interior space for a new JJ Bean location, its façade was the only authentic piece left. We maintained the exposed layered brickwork to salvage some integrity from the past. The shape of the windows of the façade cued a response of the vaulted butterfly ceiling. These emphasize both the size and texture of the space. A shiny surface behind the barista counter, wrapping from floor to ceiling, greets people upon entry, introducing customers to the remaining heritage wall that’s now behind them. The shape of this shiny wall scoops in light from the windows and illuminates the room. The earthy walls and refined palette of the travertine stone is balanced by grounding pieces of furniture. DIALOG sourced reclaimed timber to build the tables and detailed table tops with backwards JJ Bean logos so that if one looked up at the reflective ceiling, the logo would be right side up. Nothing like a surprising detail to differentiate a space.


The JJ Bean UBC café is sympathetic to the behavior of university students and their curious and explorative nature. The meandering circulation route is a metaphor for university life. Its non-linear path enables users to discover different moments, opportunities, obstacles and a chance to express their individuality. The JJ Bean environment enables casual conversations, intimate discussions, private moments and group meetings. The project utilizes rough sawn rift cut white oak to counter the hard-concrete shell and demarcate special moments. The ground floor services the patrons and allows a more transient and public engagement, while the wood enclosed stair shroud leads the more adventurous upstairs where a wide variety of seating experiences can be found.

Bay St.

New and old, many of the towers of the area in Toronto’s financial district have, in function, lost the essence and meaning of a lobby-space. Inspired by a time when classic early modern towers treated their lobbies as the first meeting room—where business started in advance of the conference room, JJ Bean’s newest café will offer a relaxed extension of the office. The design activates the Temple Building’s entry-way through a sophisticated palette that is a contemporary reinterpretation of the mid-century institutional lobby lounges. Through moody materials and a transparent double height space, the café blurs the lines between café and lobby. The design positions the bar to face the lobby, creating a backdrop for the lobby itself. It’s simple material palette that’s so obviously influenced by a graceful era of our past, provides a sophisticated background for sophisticated outcomes, thereby supporting the business of the tower.

Project facts

Client: JJ Bean
Locations: 17 Complete
Projects To Date: JJ Bean UBC, Vancouver, BC • JJ Bean Adelaide, Toronto, ON (2016) • JJ Bean Dunsmuir, Vancouver, BC (2016) • JJ Bean Cambie, Vancouver, BC (2015) • JJ Bean Lonsdale, North Vancouver, BC (2014) • JJ Bean Fraser, Vancouver, BC (2014) • JJ Bean Bidwell, Vancouver, BC (2014) • JJ Bean False Creek, Olympic Village, Vancouver, BC (2013) • JJ Bean Railway, Vancouver, BC (2012) • JJ Bean Marine, The Marine Building, Vancouver, BC (2012) • JJ Bean Port Moody, Port Moody, BC (2012) • JJ Bean Alberni, Vancouver, BC (2010) • JJ Bean CBC, Vancouver, BC (2010) • JJ Bean Woodward’s, Vancouver, BC (2009) • JJ Bean Yaletown, Vancouver, BC (2008) • JJ Bean Park & Tilford, North Vancouver, BC (2006) • JJ Bean Main Street, Vancouver, BC (2004) • JJ Bean Granville Island, Vancouver, BC (2004) •