For many people, drinking their morning coffee is a ritual needed to kick start the day. Coffee was popularized across Europe in the 17th century, which quickly launched Brazil into becoming the worlds largest bean producer . Today, the average US citizen consumes 7.5lb of beans annually . Recently, coffee has experienced a craft revolution that has popularized micro-roasteries, local coffee shops, espresso drinks, and unique brewing equipment . This trend has manifested a very interesting and recognizable aesthetic that although difficult to describe, can be easily understood by looking at some images of how coffee is portrayed in images.
Naturally, I first turned to a google image search of the word “latte”. This yielded the classic image of a large cup, framed closely, sitting on hard wood, and topped with an intricate heart or leaf design. This image is a great example of how coffee is portrayed in commercials and on social media, which provoke our associations of being comfortable, relaxed, invited, and warm.
These associations are strengthened by the accompanied atmosphere of a local coffee shop. In addition to actually getting coffee, consumers go to a coffee shop for the experience, community, ambiance, and sometimes for a productive place to get some work done. The interior design and decor of a coffee shop tends to combine elements of industrial and modern, often having exposed brick, hard wood floors, casual lighting, and shiny stainless espresso machines. This aesthetic seems to be aimed at a young, educated, and affluent demographic. I think that one could argue that there is a large overlap with the intellectual and hipster aesthetic.
Even businesses like Starbucks (quality aside), which is aiming for a much broader demographic, is emulating the aesthetic that is more genuinely created by a local place. The above image shows a bar-like counter, which is inviting and community oriented. We typically think of fast establishments like this as being grungy and worn-out (think Dunkin Donuts or McDonalds), however, Starbuck locations are always well maintained, have a similar modern/faux-industrial vibe.
The aesthetic of coffee is also apparent in the fusion of simple and functional design shared by popular brewing equipment. The style heavy utilizes glass, stainless steel, and a variety of solid bold colors. There is a certain minimalist look that incorporates organic shapes and modern lines. This design style shares many similarities with Scandanavian design. Although the above Chemex pour over primarily functions as a coffee maker, is also a piece of artwork in its own right. The body is made from a single piece of borosilicate glass, with an integrated spout. The paper filters unnecessarily extend up in a pleasing arch that almost give the process a science experiment-like feel. The center is wrapped in a beautiful conformal wood koozie, and tied together with a leather lace and matching wood bead.
The french press also has a glass body, and incorporates a simple folded stainless sheet metal housing. This housing connects the handle and gives the glass structure feet. The french press shares a a certain minimalist modern quality with the Chemex that makes them beautiful, as well as functional.
I wanted to end with a humorous and oddly fitting video :