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Animal Crossing: New Horizons is one of the hottest video games in the world right now, reaching zeitgeist-level status of obsessive fandom over the last year. There's several reasons for this—the pandemic made everyone game more— with Nintendo reporting over 32 million copies of ACNH sold since its debut. It's a runaway success, but I don't think it's just because we've all been stuck inside.

The crafting and customization mechanics of ACNH are just so much fun, allowing players to create almost anything they can dream up, proving just how amazing the human imagination can be. Cafes are undoubtedly one of the more popular builds among the Animal Crossing community—so popular, in fact, that last year we brought you a story about Animal Crossing cafe designs created by five players around the world. In the months since you've likely seen many more designs circulating on just about every major social media platform.

Many people have asked over the years if Sprudge ever plans to open up its own cafe IRL. The answer is “maybe someday”—but for now, I was inspired with the assignment of designing Sprudge's very own digital cafe for the world of Animal Crossing, writing up a useful step-by-step guide along the way so you can make your own, too. Building a cafe in ACNH is easy and fun. Let's play!

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Scout Locations

To start your cafe build, you first need to find a worthy spot. Clearing the ground of trees and weeds will open up space, giving you a general area you can work with. This plot of land can be as big or small as you prefer or if you want to work within a closed space, renovating your island home into a coffee shop is perfectly fine too.

Go in with a vision or a general theme you would like to achieve with your cafe. I wanted a functional indoor/outdoor design with plenty of seating and bar space that incorporated all my favorite coffee shop features and combined them into one. But if you want to make a beachside cafe or one that looks like a neon park run by flamingoes (this may have been my first idea), the sky and your bell bag are the only limits.

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Outline The Space

Once you’re happy with the locale, outlining a designated spot will determine how much you can jam-pack inside.

Placing pathways is one way to outline the space. Accessible to players after K.K. Slider performs his first concert on your island, the Island Designer App has pre-made wood, brick, and stone paths you can mix to create flooring and walkways, as well as terraforming, allowing you to take your design to the next level, quite literally.

But you can also craft fencing if you haven’t reached this point. Hedges, trees, bushes, and flowers are a creative way to outline your cafe. I chose to use hedges along the east and west flanks to reduce the number of DIY panels I needed to craft for walls.

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Furnish Your Cafe

Now comes the exciting (and tedious) part. Creating counter space to craft drinks and seating for customers is a great place to start when furnishing your cafe. DIYs are a pretty important part of gameplay, increasing the number of items available to you. Furniture can be both crafted and purchased. The manner of obtaining chairs and tables comes down to the style you’re aiming to achieve. DIY Iron garden benches and natural garden sets fit the cafe-style well. But if you’re going for something fancier, you’ll need to purchase from the shops or the Nook Shopping catalogs inside the residence services building.

I used a mix of DIY items such as the stalls and panels and purchased unique items such as the rattan set, all the kitchen items, and lecture hall desks to make a mock coffee bar spanning the length of the cafe.

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Customize Items

The beauty of Animal Crossing is the sheer amount of items players can create and purchase from the shops to customize their island.

By visiting Nook’s Cranny, you can find essential items—though the selections are random and change daily. Nook Shopping offers specialty goods, seasonal and holiday items, as well as a catalog to reorder previously purchased items.

Aside from purchasing wares, you can add customized designs to DIY recipes and some purchased items. Here’s where you can brand your Animal Crossing cafe to your liking. Using the Custom Designs App, you can create pixel art to customize items and clothing. If design isn’t your thing, you can also download images and transfer them to your game with this nifty pattern creator (memes seem to be a top downloaded design).

Naturally, we adorned whatever we could with the Sprudge logo, Sprudge t-shirts, and our spokesbeans, Buzzy and Spesh.

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Curate Your Coffee Selection

What’s a cafe without coffee, tea, and pastries? To avoid a bland cafe, fill your counter space with your favorite coffee-related items and equipment. Surprisingly, there’s a healthy selection of coffee shop wares, including a cafe uniform from Able Sisters. Espresso machines, coffee cups, blenders, infused water dispensers, and tea sets are some of the available cafe items you can purchase and create. Pour-overs haven’t hit the market yet, but there’s the iconic Moka pot, which settles in nicely on my coffee bar. For food options, exclusive dishes occasionally make an appearance during various holidays, or you may be lucky enough to get mom’s homemade cake in the mail to display.

With any new big island revitalization project, patience is a virtue. Depending on how many materials you have stocked in your inventory, DIY recipes, and bells, will determine the length of the project. That said, you can still create a fun cafe just by crafting a couple of sets of chairs and tables and purchasing individual items such as a tea set or coffee cup from Nook’s Cranny, then upgrading as you gain access to more items.

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We hope this guide inspires you to build your new hangout spot in Animal Crossing because every island deserves a cafe. And truly, nothing is quite as fulfilling as when your villagers discover your new masterpiece and take a seat; just be quick to take a photo before they move onto the next thing.

Brianna Fox-Priest is a freelance journalist in Oklahoma City covering coffee and video games, and the co-host of Bits & Pixels. Read more Brianna Fox-Priest on Sprudge.