Kathleen Hsu
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In the Fall 2016 semester through Berkeley Innovation, I worked on a project for HEXA Tea, a tea cafe chain looking to open up in Berkeley and other locations in the Bay Area.


In the Fall 2016 semester through Berkeley Innovation, I worked on a project for HEXA Tea, a tea cafe chain looking to open up in Berkeley and other locations in the Bay Area. I collaborated with Mimi Largier, Vanessa Ng, Lian Song, and Josephine Zschiesche on this project.


The Problem

How might we define a unique HEXA customer experience while taking into consideration the company’s traditional and natural values?

Our client wanted us to help them design a modern cafe that would act as a third space for college students and young professionals. We were tasked to create a modifiable and scalable floor plan for their first location in Berkeley, that could also be easily replicated across other future locations in the Bay Area.



We conducted 12 interviews with college students and young professionals in Berkeley to understand their daily routine, as well as the tea and coffee shops they frequent.

Based on the insights from our interviews, we created three primary customer personas:

  • Joanna — “The Tea Lover” who values quality tea tasting and options

  • Daniel — “The Hurried Student” who wants speed and convenience

  • Natasha — “The Instagrammer” who visits cafes based on their aesthetics



We also made observations at various cafes in Berkeley to gain a better understanding of how people interacted in different spaces. At each cafe, we visually mapped the layout of the store and flow of customers. We also documented the menu selection, the ordering process, and customer interactions.



In order to better understand what type of atmosphere and physical layout would appeal to customers, we sent out a Google Form survey with pictures of contrasting cafe settings

For instance, one of the questions asked participants to choose between three cafes with differing lighting:


From the 81 responses we received, the main insight was that people preferred a mix of traditional and modern design, with a bright and productive atmosphere.

Below is a summary of our survey results.


Final Deliverables

With all the insights that we gathered from research, we worked on creating our final deliverables. They included the development and design of the menus, as well as a physical space design plan.


Drink Menu

In our initial interviews, we found that most people prioritized quality and preferred a menu with limited options. However, when we sent out surveys with our proposed drink menu of four varieties of tea, the majority of people thought that there was an insufficient amount of options. Many people wanted the addition of fruit, floral, and herbal teas. Therefore, we created another menu that would be separate from HEXA’s "specialty menu" to accommodate for people who were seeking other varieties of tea.


Food Menu

While the majority of people in our initial interviews wanted to see pastries traditionally offered at cafes on the food menu, our client wanted to offer a range of snacks from different parts of the world, that would cater to a diverse range of customers.


With convenient breakfast options lacking in Berkeley, we focused on multicultural foods that customers could easily grab and go. We sent out a Google Form survey with a list of foods to see what people preferred. After narrowing down the options based on the 78 responses, we conducted user testing with the menu on the right. We received positive feedback about the offerings, and many enjoyed the unique and selection of snacks.

Below is the finalized food menu and a poster to print out for the cafe that mapped where the foods originated from.


Physical Space Design

Based on our user research, we identified the following interior design elements to include in our physical space design plan:

  • A contrasting ambience with modular zones to separate spaces where people can study vs. have conversations

  • Mix of modern and traditional elements

  • Bright and natural lighting

  • Ordering counter in the back

  • Menu with graphics on the wall

  • Work friendly environment with lots of seating, large tables, and power outlets

To create the final iteration of our physical space design, each of us imagined a customer flow and interior design layout that focused on one aspect of HEXA’s three primary goals

  • Personalization

  • Efficient and streamlined process

  • Tea education and communicating the HEXA brand

Afterwards, we collaborated on the final physical space design by combining the best ideas from our divergent designs.



Going into this project, I was intimidated by the ambiguity and scope of the problem we defined. However, I realized that having an open-ended problem statement allowed us to be more open-minded when conducting user research and coming up with ideas.

As my first non-UI/UX design project, there was a bigger focus on user research compared to the design projects I had worked on in the past. I developed my ability to write meaningful research questions and utilize various design research methods. I also learned that brainstorming sessions are most effective when everyone in a team comes in with their own ideas and designs to discuss. This way, everyone has the opportunity to contribute ideas and are less likely to anchor onto the same ones at the beginning of the brainstorm.