Beans Cafe proves to be a hidden gem on campus

When our class was assigned this project, I wasn’t too sure about what I wanted to focus on. I picked Beans Cafe because I like coffee and small, unique businesses, and I didn’t know too much about the café and wanted to learn more about it. My roommate was always raving about how amazing the coffee was and that she doesn’t go anywhere else for her lattes and I didn’t start going there until fall of this year– something I definitely regret now!

I wanted to show the audience, both those who are familiar and new to Beans, how special Beans truly is and learn more about the people that work there and who are patrons there. One thing that sets Beans apart from other local and campus coffee shops is the fact that it’s student run, which has a huge influence on menu items, events Beans throws, and the overall atmosphere of the café.

A lot of my pictures are on various aesthetics and philosophy of Beans: the local food, the customers, the comfy furniture, and the open space and lighting of the cafe. The café itself is in a smaller, more intimate area, making it hard to photograph the space with a lot of variety in my images. Reilly, the assistant manager, allowed me to go back behind the counter with her and photograph some equipment and how she makes coffee using the espresso machine, which was a lot of fun. One of the drawbacks, however, was that I went right when she was opening so it wasn’t very busy and I had to take pictures of most of the furniture and the room in general. The lighting was best when I went in the morning because there was lots of natural light. When I went in the late afternoon and evening, it was harder to photograph because the lighting was dimmer and it was hard to find a good place to stand to take pictures because it was so crowded (making it somewhat awkward to photograph people).

The people, both the employees and customers, make up the Beans atmosphere and culture. When I wasn’t in class or at work, I was in and out of Beans trying to capture the tight-knit community there. Because they are student run cafe, maintaining a close community is important to their philosophy and something I tried to capture. I also thought it was cool learning about Beans through the different people who either work or go there for coffee, and how their stories are shaped differently from one another. I thought it was interesting though, that they were struggling with marketing because they have such a loyal customer base–and even have loyalty cards and plans on expanding.

One issue I struggled with was making my video long enough and finding enough pictures with variety for what my interviewees were describing, because they tended to list a lot of things and speak fast. I would also try next time to take pictures of the groups of people studying, even if it was a little awkward for the both of us. The baristas I interviewed also mentioned that Beans has expanded to the Korbel school and are hoping to eventually expand to Sturm, so I could’ve photographed the Beans in Korbel. It would’ve also been nicer to interview more baristas and random customers, so that’s something I’ll have to try in the future (perhaps with the video project).

 

One Response to Beans Cafe proves to be a hidden gem on campus

  • Morgan Murphy
    Morgan Murphy says:

    Lucy! I loved your photographs. I know beans is a small venue but you did quite a good job coming up with enough pictures to fill the presentation. You did a wonderful job of matching what people were saying to the pictures that you could get. You had a ton of interviews which was cool. It was nice to hear from so many people about Beans. Ill have to go back and give it a second chance! All in all this presentation was really good!

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