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The Trail of Love

The enchantment of Christmas is weaving its magic upon us. Regardless of where we are, Santa always finds his way to deliver the gift of love and joy. In the spirit of this festive season, we want to celebrate the trail of love that connects us, bringing forth what we hold most dear.

As we prepare for the upcoming festive activities, we are also sharing the stories about the connections from many of you whom made LOCK CHUCK their second home.

Santa’s trail of love never stops, and neither do we. 


The other day, I came across a post from our friend Evan, a talented artist, recommending an exhibition by Shiota Chiharu in Shenzhen. Seeing the images of the installations immediately struck my memory, bringing me back to four years ago as I recall my journey to Tokyo, specifically for this wonderful exhibition.

Entering a large white box, I found myself surrounded by hundreds of old suitcases hanging in the air by red ropes. “I used to visit flea markets in Berlin and I came across an old suitcase with a very old newspaper from 1947 inside. I was fascinated by it and began collecting more.” Shiota explained on the wall the inspiration of this installation named ‘Accumulation: Searching for the Destination’. “People leave their hometowns with a destination in mind. I left my hometown when I was very young. Living among people of different nationalities, I suddenly forget that I am Japanese. Looking at yourself reflected in a mirror, you realize for the first time that you have black hair and black eyes. The further you drift and the further you mix, the more you arrive at a place that allow you to stare hard at yourself, anew. When I look at a heaping pile of suitcases, all I see is a corresponding number of human lives. Why did the people leave the place they were born, in search of some destinations? Why did they go on this voyage? What were these people’s feeling on the morning of their departure?”


The Japanese embodies the spirit of giving. Last week, we had the pleasure of hosting our dear friend from Japan, Akiko San, whom is currently living in Guangzhou, as a guest speaker for our back-to-school campaign – “To the Uncharted Horizons”. After the conversation-styled workshop, she came to me with gratitude, saying, “Thank you Chuck for inviting me. I love sharing.” 

Recalling our first encounter two years ago, I remember Akiko brought her Chinese course book with her, determined to learn the language on her own. I was impressed by her dedication to embrace and integrate into the local cultures. Understanding the challenges of learning a new language, she initiated language workshops at LOCK CHUCK, starting with only Japanese participants, and now expanding to individuals who came from across the globe, to bring and share understanding to the local cultures with various perspectives. 

“I brought this gift with me to you.” said Akiko San, holding a small bag of biscuits in hand. “Though I know you probably visit Japan more often than I do, I still wanted to share this Japanese biscuit to you. It’s from my home town, Hokkaido.” She turned around the package, and pointed to the manufacturer details. “It’s not exaggerating to say that this biscuit factory changes my life.” 

“Oh? In what way?” I was curious. “When I was a high school student, I was so amazed by Western cultures, and it got me to start learning English by myself and I won the second prize in an English speech competition sponsored by this biscuit factory. And the prize was a two-week trip to Canada, all expenses covered. I fell in love with the country, and I wanted to be more than a visitor. I tried my best and moved to Canada afterwards, living like a local there for ten years. This biscuit carries immense meaning and opportunity, and I wanted to share it with you.”

As I held the biscuit, it felt like a time capsule, preserving Akiko’s trail of voyage, in which love dominates.


New York, a city engrained with the spirit of giving, holds a special place in my heart – it was where I had my first overseas journey after I had quit a stable job in an electrical company and decided to take on a new trail to open LOCK CHUCK COFFEE. The train connecting JFK Airport to Manhattan led me straight to Macy’s. When I reached the ground level, the fairy-tale scenes that flooded my thoughts became a reality. It was Christmas time and snowing! Busy strangers walking by carried the same hope within their smiles. ‘Merry Christmas’ echoed through the air. Bands stood on the sidewalks, hitting drums whilst singing Christmas carols. I raised my eyes to look at the sky, blinded by the festive façade. There, in front of me was a towering neon light spelling ‘BELIEVE’. Icy teardrops suddenly trickled down my cheeks.  

The city witnessed my embarkation to a new journey and has embraced me with great love ever since then. My recent visit to New York has once again proven me this enduring affection. I was visiting Irving Farm, our roaster partner for the past eight years, and I was warmly greeted by our new friend Liz. “Hey Chuck, welcome back! I’ve been following your adventures online, but having you here is just fantastic,” Liz said, introducing their new office to me. 

Over a cup of coffee, Liz told me that she is from Colorado and has been in the coffee industry for many years. She joined Irving Farm before covid. The allure of New York City, has convinced her to make this city her home. “We both have New York dreams,” said I, “New York has a great influence on me and we pay tribute to its spirit in our design and daily operations. Can you believe that we’ve been working together for 8 years? Isn’t this collaboration magical?” With a shared vision, I shared our proposal of 10th-anniversary collaboration with Irving Farm. “We are preparing for something special – a pop-up right here in the heart of New York to celebrate this meaningful connection.”

After the meeting with Irving Farm, I started to re-explore the city. And that day, my mission was to explore poster shops in pursuit of unique additions to our cafe’s collection. Wandering the city without a specific place in mind, I came across a quaint poster shop, curated by an owner who had dedicated 43 years to this remarkable collection.

As I was browsing, another group of customers joined the shop. One of the ladies asked me about my selection, and I shared with her that I had found two amazing works to bring back to our coffee shop in Guangzhou, China. “Wait, is that for LOCK CHUCK COFFEE?” Surprised and thrilled, I responded: “You’ve been there? When?” “In 2015,” the lady replied with a smile. “That’s the very first year we opened!” I couldn’t hide my amazement and my voice was trembling, “What a coincidence!” She chuckled, “I was with my family and we spent one month in Guangzhou. I was very small but I remember visiting the coffee shop twice! Wow, it is such a small world!” 


The spirit of giving runs deep in the Finns, originated the hometown of Santa. Architect Professor Teemu, dropped me a message with an exciting news:“Chuck, I am coming back.” Teemu and I have formed a rapport since his first visit in Guangzhou, where he was invited as a visiting professor from a nearby campus. 

For three years, Professor Teemu couldn’t come back due to border closures. In his last visit, he designed a Christmas installation for LOCK CHUCK, marking a shared journey between us.

“I am so happy for you. Look at this, you are the pioneer of the street, you made it alive!” said Professor Teemu. As we were catching up, I excitedly shared the news about our next project. “We are lucky, and after all these years, we are charting new trails to chase our dreams – working our best to set foot in our favourite city, Tokyo.” “Well, I can’t help you on everything. But at least in my realm, I will do all I can do. I have already come up with the design idea for your new shop.” Teemu’s offer couldn’t have been more perfect. 

“That can’t be better. We have benefited from the culture integration and the meaningful connections we’ve made, and before the setting up a physical new shop in Tokyo, we plan to do a world tour, to our favourite cities to celebrate these meaning connections.” said I. Teemu grinned: “Do you know that the Finnish design circle is quite small? I will help you build the bridges with some Finnish brands, and you can collaborate for your pop-up in Helsinki.”“Then I hope I can make it in Christmas time, and we celebrate this with Santa.”.

Reflecting on Shiota’s questions, the answers began to become clearer. Why do we start the journey to the uncharted horizons? What are we exactly looking for? We are drawn to the diverse cultures and dedicated to make and celebrate these meaningful human and cultural connections. The trails we tread are full of love. 

In this Christmas season, we again cheer for the spirit of giving and collaborate with our beloved young artist Nicole to encapsulate the essence of this festive season. Nicole creates a Christmas vision that tells a hearty story: Watermelong embarks on a journey to find Santa. Along the way, he looks for guidance from different people for directions, giving them gifts that he brought along, leaving none behind until he reaches Santa. Just when he gets upset and feels hopeless, magic unfolds.

Watermelong’s journey is a trail of love. And we welcome you to join his journey starting from LOCK CHUCK. 

In a city that never snows, we keep the festive spirit with love. The real Christmas trees and hand made wreaths are spreading the festive spice in the air. Not only are we launching our seasonal menu, but also hosting a series of festive events, including wreath workshop, cooking workshop and the most anticipated annual Christmas party.

Now, take up the trail of love.

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