Coffee culture has recently exploded with the term ‘third-wave coffee’ being coined in 2002, and Instagram is no doubt a fueling nudge to keep growing. I recently spoke with a handful of exceptional coffee lovers, photographers and Instagram users about their love for coffee in New York City.
“Instagram has been, hands down the biggest platform for coffee lovers. It has given people access to get to know coffee shops around the world, making it a point to visit them while on holidays. So when you visit any coffee shop in New York, or any other great one around the world, you could literally map them in your head and think about the moments you've enjoyed coffee there.” This is Diala Canelo, whom I met one afternoon for brunch in Dublin. She’s a flight attendant from Canada who was on her weekend layover and introduced me to The Fumbally here in town. The woman behind @dialaskitchen flies all over the world and on her stops, looks for the best coffee and brunch while away from home.
The amazing thing about the bond between Instagram and coffee is that it allows an outlet for creativity in the lives of accountants, lawyers, nurses and other professions that don’t necessarily allow for inventive and expressive thought bubbles throughout the work day.
“Coffee is such a ritual for so many, and I think that’s probably why it brings people together so easily. It’s both a comfort and a commonality. Not to mention, it’s liquid productivity,” says Melissa Male behind @melissamale.
“I work in a hospital where everything is a science or a regulation. I love seeing everyone else’s inspiring photos and fresh perspectives,” she says. “You get the ability to show people how you view the world, and in turn you get a glimpse into life as others experience it.”
Instagram has allowed coffee and photography lovers to virtually travel the world, view and experience coffee on the other side of the planet. “Social media in general is this crazy virtual peephole into the lives of others,” says Male, who explores Manhattan and Brooklyn most weekends for new spots to spend an afternoon.
“I spent 3 years living in Mexico City when I started my account, mostly as a way to portray everything I loved about the city. Its architecture, markets, and vibrant food scene. While there, I spent 2 years attending Le Cordon Bleu for bread and pastry, and that's how my love for food photography grew. So in a way, Instagram made me discover my true passion” said Canelo.
In an article written for a coffee magazine, an author wrote that Instagram was the worst thing to happen to coffee. By this, summed up, she meant that coffee drinkers go to the shops for the picture, not experiencing the drink itself, snapping as the drink slowly turns cold. But what about the other side of the argument?
“Instagram has most definitely changed the coffee game, especially in NYC. There's no better way to find a cute coffee shop in your area than through Instagram. I think that once a cafe has become popular on Instagram, they're really set in terms of getting customers,” said Minnie Kim behind @Eatingwithminnie. Minnie is an avid foodie and traveler who in real time searches and does marketing for Asian cuisine in Manhattan. “Honestly, Instagram has become such a big part of my life [in how] I meet people. I've met so many wonderful creative individuals whom I probably would never have crossed paths with if it hadn't been for this social media platform.” And while these ‘grammer’s might take their time to appreciate the art of the interior and latte art, there is always a level of understanding of the brew and beans themselves. “The best coffee I've ever had hands down has to be when I was visiting Costa Rica.
I probably drank around nine to ten cups a day. No, I wasn't in some trendy coffee shop in Williamsburg, but there was a certain richness and distinct flavor to each cup that I haven't been able to find anywhere else, [but] I totally understand where that statement is coming from,” Kim continues, “When people find a coffee shop on Instagram, they are attracted to it not for its roasting or tasting of the coffee, but rather, the ambiance of the shop overall. Many people come in just to get that perfect afternoon coffee shot to post on Instagram, but when you think about it, very rarely do people mention how the coffee actually tastes in their captions. For me, caffeine doesn't really help with keeping me awake, I drink coffee because I genuinely enjoy its flavor. Also, I think that coffee, especially in NYC, has become such a a big part of the social sphere.”
Bouncing to and from, experiencing one coffee shop or another is a universal activity that is now synonymous with the artwork of the people. A creative outlet in an every day activity. A place and a way to share beauty in the art of coffee with eyes in addition to mouth, to experience architectural symmetry and aesthetic comfort. To mix the feeling of calm with the jolt of caffeine to your veins.
Each shop, similar if not identical in purpose, breathes life in its unique approach and characteristics. These spots that can be shared virtually and then physically in every country. Someone everywhere drinks coffee, which brings a sense of unity, making the world a bit smaller through the reflective black screens of our phones. Following a hashtag is a Hansel and Gretel trail thousands of locations, and with the drop of a pin, is an implicit mark for others, perhaps unknown to you, to find.