Creativity and Coffee

The tradition of creative thinking in coffeehouses began in the 1500’s, when the coffeehouse first debuted in the Middle East. Almost immediately, they became hang outs for intellectual and creative types. Over the next century or so, coffeehouses expanded into Europe and America and now, of course (and thank goodness), they’re everywhere!

Next time you’re in a coffeehouse, just look around. It’s hard not to witness a creative process. It is the art on the walls, a student studying, a musician playing music and the barista crafting your perfect espresso. All you have to do is simply be there to experience it.

So why do coffeehouses invoke creativity? Steven Johnson, author of Where Good Ideas Come From, speculates in his Ted Talk that coffeehouses may have replaced pubs (Alcohol was safer to drink than unclean water.). Johnson says, “If you switched from a depressant to a stimulant in your life, you would have better ideas.” He also believes the both the physical layout and the noise level of a coffeehouse boost brain power. And, he’s not alone. The New York Times Well Blog agrees.

Coffee itself is now art.

Coffee Painting by Karen Eland

Mona Latte coffee painting by Karen Eland

It seems natural that coffee itself is now art. Baristas across the globe compete in latte art competitions. Even outside of the coffeehouse, coffee inspires artists like Karen Eland and Red Hong Yi who are using coffee, instead of paint, to create art.

At Jim’s, we consider roasting coffee an art form. Each coffee we create has its own flavor notes that we have carefully perfected. To draw attention to this, we incorporated original illustrations by New England artist Hallie Mitchell onto our labels. She loves coffee as much as us and it plays a part in her creative process. Each day, Hallie takes her morning cup and her dog Teddy to the Presumpscot River where she pulls her inspiration from wildlife and nature.

For our project, Hallie explored the delicate flavor notes and places of origin of all of our coffees. Then, using different strokes and marks, she produced the cohesive body of work that you see on our packaging. The artist says, “I tried to make effective illustrations that would represent the flavor of the coffee in a more transcending abstract way, giving the coffee consumer a sense of place with every sip.”

ethEach illustration has a story.

Of all in the series, the illustration for our Ethiopian Sidamo Nura Korate (left) is a favorite of Hallie’s. “After researching Ethiopian textiles, patterns and cultural symbols, I felt stuck,” Hallie shared. “For ideas, I turned to my friend Red who was born in Ethiopia. He sent me a picture of a rug that his mother had given him, and that was all I needed! I found inspiration in the pattern on the Ethiopian rug! I feel like I had the strongest connection to this coffee’s place of origin which helped create a very interesting illustration.”

A loyal customer recently took a bag of our Ethiopian on a road trip as she couldn’t imagine her family’s vacation without it. While in the car, her teenage son James sketched an image of the coffee bag featuring Hallie’s illustration.

The fine tradition of coffee and creativity continues.

Sketch-by-James-Gimler

Sketch by James Gimler, 11th grade High School Student