How to Look at Coffee

How to Look at Coffee

For many individuals, mornings are synonymous with a cup of freshly made coffee. Coffee is a fundamental aspect of a person’s morning routine, as it helps to get the day started, and continues to mobilize us throughout the day. Coffee is a popular drink amongst most of the population, in part due to its intoxicating nature, but also due to the various selections and options that the beverage offers. This includes the drinks’ size and temperature, the quantity and type of milk, cream, sugar, and flavouring used, even the type of coffee itself, such as an espresso, cappuccino, and latte – each part of a coffee is customizable to an individual person’s taste and preference.

Image of iced coffees on a patio table
Alessia Canestraro, “Iced Coffee.” Woodbridge, Ontario. July 7, 2021.  Digital Photograph. ©Alessia Canestraro

Within this image, we can see three cups of coffee, an iced matcha latte, an iced coffee with milk, and an iced caramel macchiato, each varying in its taste, ingredients, preparation, and appearance. Since iced coffees are visually appealing, each of these drinks are served in clear glass cups, in order for their beautiful presentations to be visible. For example, the clear glass allows for the aesthetic layering of milk and espresso within the iced caramel macchiato to be seen and appreciated. The coffees are set upon a wooden table, as these cold beverages were enjoyed with friends on a café patio during the summertime. All of these elements, such as the ambience of the setting and the overall presentation of the drinks, contribute to the experience of consuming and enjoying a coffee.

However, coffee is more than just a beverage, as it holds social and cultural significance. Whether you enjoy coffee or not, one cannot deny the important role coffee plays within society and our daily lives. Coffee is imbued with various historical contexts and social and cultural meanings. For example, Italy is widely considered to be the birthplace of “coffee culture” (Kovick, “The History of Coffee Culture”). The first Italian coffee houses appeared in Venice at the end of the 17th century, which soon became “synonymous with comfortable atmosphere, conversation, and good food, this adding romance and sophistication to the coffee experience” (Kovick).

These Italian coffee houses have set the precedent for today’s coffee shops and cafés, and the role that coffee plays within modern social life (Kovick). For some, cafés and coffee shops are simply places to buy their daily coffee, however, for others, these locations are places to meet with friends and family (like I have within my image), to have date nights, to work on your laptop, or to just sit and enjoy the atmosphere with a good coffee. Coffee has become a focal point for entertaining and socializing, as there is nothing quite like getting together with friends and family and catching up over a cup of coffee. Coffee brings people together through the welcoming environment that it creates and is associated with. As a result, something as seemingly mundane and ordinary as a coffee, and going out for a coffee, has a lot more meaning than one might assume. Evidently, drinking coffee is an important social activity within our modern society.

© Copyright 2022 Alessia Canestraro, Ryerson University.

Works Cited

Canestraro, Alessia. “Iced Coffee.” 7 July, 2021. Digital photograph. Private collection.

Kovick, Margaret. “The History of Coffee Culture in Italy.” Wanted in Rome, 1 Oct. 2020, Accessed 8 Feb. 2022.

Disclaimer: Images in this online exhibit are either in the public domain or being used under fair dealing for the purpose of research and are provided solely for the purposes of research, private study, or education.