Coffee Shop Advertising: A Tasteful Studio for a Delicate Art


Figure 1. An advertisement for Starbucks coffee shop chain emphasizing the flavors of Starbucks beverages.

Drinking coffee, whether one may consider it a hobby, daily ritual, or an absolutely necessary source of caffeine consumption, has been constructed and transformed since the beginnings of coffee cultivation in Africa during the 9th century. However, the concept of the coffee house was not introduced until 1555 when Shemsi of Hamascus and Hekem of Aleppo opened Kiva Han in Constantinople. For those who are particularly interested in the historical transformations, an account of the world’s most historic coffee houses may come in handy. The modern coffee shop offers a place of serenity, coziness, and warmth along with unique coffee roasts and flavor blends, which can be seen in the advertisements of the most popular coffee shop chains.


Figure 2. An advertisement for Peet’s Coffee and Tea that emphasizes the business’s value of the coffee beans and how they are handled.

The advertising realm for coffee shops is primarily dominated by the larger chains of coffee shops and it is very difficult to find print advertising for smaller, local businesses. A few of the most popular among these advertisements are promotions for Starbucks,Caribou Coffee, and  Peet’s Coffee and Tea, all of which emphasize the unique ways with which their coffee is carefully crafted, roasted, and blended. The advertisers must take into account the perceptions of their targeted audience, which is a wide range of people. Coffee shops are frequented by students looking for a mellow study space, moms seeking a peaceful escape from the kiddos, and even business professionals needing a place for a meeting or interview. It is important to note that whereas coffee is perceived through multiple senses, the advertisement must convey flavor both flavor and feeling to the viewer through mere imagery. The advertisers attempt to do so with high resolution photos of the actual coffee beans as well as the finished product, complete with a perfectly sculpted whipped topping and smooth caramel drizzle.


Figure 3. An advertisement for Gloria Jean’s coffee shop chain emphasizing the concept of the “escape,” complete with indulgent visual imagery and warm shades of brown.

In addition to the quality of coffee, coffee shop advertising focuses largely on the indulgent factor of drinking these beverages by adding toppings such as these or depicting the simple cup of joe with a mouth-watering slice of cake or other pastry.In many cases the advertisers are tempting the id of one’s unconscious mind by convincing the viewer that he or she deserves to indulge, as a sort of metaphorical escape from the rational side of reality. The visual representations of these food commodities are of utmost importance to the advertisers.

Visual elements of the advertisements include a sans-serif dominated typeface combined with warm colors of chestnut, terra-cotta, rich mocha, and smooth browns that portray a welcoming and at-home feeling. The use of “white space” is intentionally not white, but filled with these colors to encompass and embody the overall atmosphere of the coffee and coffee shop itself. Though these strategies are effective, the portrayal of these unique spaces seem to be lacking. The cozy chairs, intriguing artwork, and overall environment of a coffee shop cannot be completely taken away from the ads that dominate the media representations.


This entry was posted in Blog #2. Researching Print Advertisements. Bookmark the permalink.

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