Curiosity Matters

An Exploration of Branding, Design and Cultural Trends

Trend Series: Caffeine Culture

This is the first of what I hope will be a regular series where I explore trends that I've captured mostly through my iPhone.

As you may know from following my Instagram feed and reading my blog, I have a love / hate relationship with caffeine. Mostly love, of course. Starbucks was one of the first companies to develop a brand around coffee, modeling their in store experience after sophisticated European cafés. But with the saturation of Starbucks, the last few years have seen a distinct 180 shift from the Starbucks aesthetic. Perhaps due to the sea of chain restaurants, plastic, disposable and mass produced everything, we're desperately seeking more permanence. Growing coffee companies like Stumptown and Kaffe 1668 use the dim lighting of incandescent bare light bulbs, candles and mason jars to hark back to a time where the General Store dominated, long before mass production and globalization. But with the added conveniences of wifi and elegance of a Dwell-worthy spread. Patrons are reminded of the craftsmanship, personal touch and ritual that goes into caffeine consumption through porcelain cups and latté art. Baristas have become artists, identifying themselves by wearing the uniform of newsboy caps, vests and the occasional bright red lipstick to remind customers that they are part of the creative class.

In New York, the four dollar cup of coffee has held its ground despite our stagnant economy. Perhaps we use this perfectly poured cup of coffee to escape the realities of our fast moving world, filled with constant email pings and chatter of always being busy? Ironically this escapism is often ruined by the compulsion to document and share our coffee experiences through social media channels like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

In the last few years, it seems that Brooklynites are nearly obsessed with this pre World War II lifestyle. Can you spot some examples?