Based in Austin, Texas, Info Aperture is a blog by Kate McKerlie.

10 Days of Coffee Drinking in Italy

10 Days of Coffee Drinking in Italy

Dear Data inspired visualization of the what, when, and how of my coffee consumption while vacationing in Italy. Updated this in May 2019: made the changing numbers different colors to reflect the drink I drank most that day.

Italians are serious about their coffee, and rightfully so. I had the opportunity to take my first trip to Italy this year, and as a caffeine enthusiast I was not disappointed. I used the opportunity to try my first Dear Data -esque project inspired by Giorgi Lupi and Stefanie Posavec’s work.

  Italian “coffee” is actually what most Americans know as espresso. You will not find a Café in Italy without the fancy semi-automatic machine. Italians have a rich history with the drink, inventing what we know as “espresso” or made to order fast or “express” and or named because the method requires forcing pressure down on the coffee so that the drink is “expressed” through.

I definitely wanted to avoid being unintentionally rude or an oblivious tourist, so before my trip, I did some research and found many articles describing the “rules” of ordering coffee in Italy. First thing I learned was not to order a “latte.” Latte literally means milk so unless I wanted some warm milk sans the espresso, I need to be more exact, “Caffe latte, por favore.”  Other rules were that I was to stand at the bar and drink my espresso-based drink, even if there is seating available, know that I will be charged extra for table service, and lastly, the most important rule, was that I was to stick to drinking any milk in the morning. The Italians believe milk is to be drank on an empty stomach. A milk and espresso are a major part of what they consider breakfast, maybe accompanied by a “torta della nonna” grandma’s cake or a sweet pastry. Milk is too heavy in the afternoon.

So, How’d I do? According to my notes, I drank 34 coffees in 10 days. But I only followed all the rules 47% of the time. I drank a latte in the afternoon and sat quite a bit, I hope my clumsy Italian and smiles made up for it. I did quite enjoy it when I did follow these “rules.” It was quite nice to stand elbow to elbow with Italians. I learned later that this standing and drinking thing was supposedly modeled off of old American western saloons. And to my defense, I witnessed many Italians drinking their espressos sitting, usually after a meal at a restaurant, which makes sense, an espresso is considered a digestif.  

Onto the visualization, I wanted to show you what I drank (see the key to the left), when I drank it, and how I drank it. In the Dear Data tradition, I did start off with a hand drawn sketch, but after drawing it out, I wanted to see it move, so I brought it over to Illustrator and After Effects. It was also fun to hand draw the coffee drinks in Adobe Sketch. The little “puddle” appearing around the clock moves outward to include the coffees I drank on the specific day, and the general pattern of my coffee drinking. You can see how many I drank each day to left of the clock. At the beginning of my trip I really enjoyed the caffe lattes, but as you can see, I began to really prefer the cappuccinos (the colors of the numbers change depending on the most common drink I drank that day). I guess I got used to the espresso and I often felt the lattes to sit a little heavy in my stomach (These Italians know their stuff).

First draft of my visualization- pre-googling how to spell things ;)

First draft of my visualization- pre-googling how to spell things ;)

This was a fun one, learned some new expressions in After Effects and got to play around with how to show time passing. I also quite enjoyed recording my coffee consumption, I felt more intentional about what I was doing and consuming. My Italian coffee experience has changed me forever. I now own a Moka Pot, and it took me a few weeks to get back to drinking and enjoying the “weak stuff.” Overall, I think this is an excellent way to start to learn how to tell a story with data without the sometimes over-whelming spreadsheet of numbers. There is no need to be acquainted with the data, I am it, the data creator is me! Although it was fun to see patterns, like my almost daily 7am and 9am coffee breaks. I look forward to more of these, and of course, future trips to Italy! Arrivederci!

Where I learned to get the clock to move: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1I3XmL1cNuc

 Where I learned to do number countdowns: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEwiJcpJlWE

 Handy video on drawing shapes and animating them: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wWnVNTyJEFA

 

Made in Adobe Draw, Illustrator, and After Effects.

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