The Art of Drinking Coffee

The Whole Bean

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We are a world obsessed with the social side of coffee. We arrange to meet friends at coffee shops, we make plans at coffee shops, we even host meetings at coffee shops. They are our go-to ports in a storm, and our sanctuaries when we’re craving caffeine and company. But what about those of us who drink it alone?

People across the globe have taken to the social side of coffee, but what about those of us who drink it alone? I’m not talking about those who stand in line every morning at seven a.m. waiting for their cup to grab and go. I’m talking about the old man in a cap who sits in the corner reading his paper, the woman perched at the window seat while watching the world go by, and the man settled outside either basking in the sunshine or peering at passersby rushing around in the rain. These are the solitary coffee drinkers, alone with their thoughts, alone with their observations, and alone with their cups of coffee. There are also solitary drinkers, alone with their observations, for whom coffee inspires creativity. Coffee can also be about savoring the moment.

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A cup sketch by Mariya Suzuki. At top of page, a cup by Adrian Hogan. (Photos: courtesy of Mariya Suzuki.)

One group of artists in Japan is doing just that. Not only are they savoring their coffee, but they’re marking each paper cup they drink with a piece of artwork, too.

Japanese illustrator Mariya Suzuki started sketching on coffee cups when she was a student living in Long Beach, California. She remembers, “They were blank, so naturally they inspired me to draw on them.”

When Mariya grabs a cup of coffee, she doesn’t run off in the direction of her next destination while sipping on the go, she doesn’t even chat with friends in between sips, she stops and takes a look at the world around her, until she finds something inspirational. “My subjects can be the interior of the coffee shop, people talking and eating, or the scenery (outside) the cafe. Many times I take the coffee to go and walk around to find a nice view to draw,” says Mariya.

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Cup art by Adrian Hogan.

For her recent weeklong exhibition at the Salad Bowl gallery in Tokyo, titled Coffee People, Mariya asked fellow illustrator Adrian Hogan to swap his blank paper for coffee cups.

Adrian says, “Drawing helps one focus on the world around us, be open to fresh inspiration and present in the moment. The coffee break is an excuse to sit down and draw and appreciate the scene in front of me and enjoy the moment.”

Art by Mariya Suzuki.
Art by Mariya Suzuki.

Mariya says, “For me, it’s more like a diary than trying to decorate the cups. I write about my day on the bottom of each cup.”

So next time you’re given your usual cup of coffee, take some time and take heed of what you’re drinking. This hurried modern world doesn’t often afford moments of serenity, you don’t have to spend it drawing on your cup, but if it makes your coffee taste better, then why not?

Laura Gabrielle Feasey is a freelancer based in London. She blogs at ismithwords.com