Lydia’s Lens Brews Coffee Culture and Common Grounds
Lydia Jackson of Alton is characterized for her bubbly and inclusive personality. Working at Germania Brew Haus on Broadway for the past nine months has allowed her to not only cultivate a deep connection with the area, but also her passion for coffee.
Jackson released her blog yesterday, Lydia’s Lens, which is a place for viewers to learn about coffee and the deeper connections coffee shops create with those who visit. The focus of the blog is Jackson’s exploration, connection and explanation of the mysterious coffee culture.
“The thing with coffee culture is everyone is included,” Jackson explained. “They [customers] are paying for the experience, not the liquid. I want it to not just be coffee, and not just culture, but coffee culture. I want to create a community through it.”
Jackson has a great grasp of herself and how coffee fits into that equation. From moving to Ecuador for several months, majoring in business and Spanish, being a photographer and eventually coming back home, Jackson has an expansive background of understanding people on a deep, personal level and recognizing the importance of coffee culture for many people.
There is no doubt some may question what exactly coffee culture is. Jackson has a hard time separating coffee from culture; they live harmoniously together for her.
Lauren Leady: What inspired/inspires you to create this blog and talk about coffee?
Lydia Jackson: There are multiple stories. I’m from Michigan and as a kid I would go visit my great grandma and we would do coffee parties. That’s when coffee became part of my life. I associate [coffee] with gatherings. I didn’t care about the coffee, but that I was with my sister, grandma and cousins. And, from about 2014 to the beginning of 2017, I was in a dark place — really lonely and unhappy. Then, I decided to move to Ecuador; that’s where my coffee shop idea came from. Also, I kept looking for joy outside of me and then realized joy would come from within me. With that, I discovered I found joy within coffee shops. I was creating a community that was fulfilling. Inspiration for my blog came from when I was posting all these pictures. People started commenting, “You should have a blog.” I was already having these thoughts, but because it was voiced, I realized there were people interested.
LL: As a barista and a coffee drinker, do you experiment or do you have a staple drink?
LJ: I do experiment — usually my experimenting adds in chocolate. I’m just naturally just drawn to that. For barista specials here [Germania Brew Haus] and customer tastings, all mine include chocolate. Whenever I go to coffee shops, I like to ask the house special, barista favorites or a popular drink that’s not on here [the menu]. They know coffee from their place better than anybody could. I like different aspects from different coffees, though. If it were to be a latte, it would be mocha. I like softer and deep tones, like chocolate and berry flavors.
LL: What do you look for when writing and taking photos for your blog?
LJ: Because I’m a barista I like to show baristas as humans. Also, I look for interactions with baristas and customers. I do like latte art pictures. I mean who doesn’t like latte art? I like to take pictures from a unique perspective. I like to take pictures of what hits me when I come in. I don’t want it to be what I saw, what I drank, but I want it to be you seeing it with me. If you were going a coffee shop with me, this is what we would see and taste together. This is what we would see together. Because coffee culture to me is when everyone is included. Inclusion is really important. I was not included because I was homeschooled in high school. In middle school, I made a friend group that we called the group of misfit toys. But, being homeschooled, I wasn’t included as much as I was prior. Now, people talk about me and how I include people. I don’t want my life to be more important than others’.
LL: Being a barista is definitely hard work, especially with how people act before they’ve had their morning coffee. How do you handle that, along with creating a coffee culture as a barista?
LJ: Most people love coffee in this industry, and from that love they are producing love to the customers. There is a barista-customer connection. It’s a whole new level of trust. You have to trust the barista because not everyone knows a lot about coffee — like asking the barista, “Can you be my translator?” There is a lot of pressure because you’re shaping that person’s view of coffee for the rest of their life. Me, personally, [while] working I try to remember everybody’s name. I go home and picture faces and memorize names. I do know a lot of people now and for somebody to know and be known is the best thing really. You can’t be a successful barista if you don’t have a serving heart.
LL: What do you hope people get and take away from your blog?
LJ: I want to reaffirm to people I’m not doing this to get followers. I’m interested in my own life, but there are actually people out there interested in what I do too — this reaffirming that people care about me too. It’s about me finding more about coffee culture and them reaffirming inclusiveness and family. We have become so separate and now we’ve become so aware of our separation. What do we do with this? Do we stare at this problem or do something about it? Do we keep always focusing on our differences? The new take is focus on common grounds.
Jackson has traveling plans far into the future including a coffee crawl in Kansas City. Additionally, she will travel to Colorado for a coffee festival, which is a huge conference just for coffee. The fest will have different classes for coffee and business startups as well. Jackson has plenty planned for the future with endless adventures and flavors to taste.
Keep up with her caffeinated adventures and follow her blog lydiaslens.net.
Written by Editorial Director Lauren Leady