Despite what the recent Samsung commercial would have you think, baristas and so many others in the coffee industry tend to be a highly creative group of individuals. I’m not sure where the correlation stems from exactly, but DCILY was founded on the principle that coffee inspires creativity and each day I’m more convinced of that.
Eileen P. Kenny is one of the latest artist/barista (or is it barista/artist?) who I’ve discovered creating great coffee inspired art. She is a twenty-two year old photographer who’s been making coffee since she was sixteen. Part-way through getting a Masters in Advertising, she decided to leave school to pursue what she already knew she was passionate about and began working with Seven Seeds Coffee (and soon Market Lane).
The project, aptly titled “Birds of Unusual Vitality,” is a collection of portraits & essays about passionate and unique individuals in specialty coffee, beginning with Melbourne’s Angus Gibbs, Jason Scheltus, Talor Browne and Mark Free.
Specialty coffee is an industry filled with fascinating people from every corner of the world and every background you can imagine.
The aim of Birds of Unusual Vitality is to shine a light on these baristas, roasters, farmers, pickers, workers, and everyone involved the process of coffee production, from start to finish. I want the passion for great coffee and the pursuit of quality and sustainability to spread beyond those who work in coffee—I think that getting insight into the people who have that passion is a great place to start.
The project has no expected end date and Kenny’s growing list of desired subjects expands well beyond Melbourne to include such coffee notables as Susie Spindler, Ben Kaminsky and Brent Fortune. Kenny shared her project ambitions with DCILY:
In the long term, I’d also like to go to origin and interview farmers, tracing the coffee’s journey in reverse; essentially, starting at where I am now (making coffee and tasting it), all the way back to those who are harvesting and processing and basing their livelihoods on the quality of their next crop.
This is such a great project that can capture the true diversity of backgrounds within the industry. If there ever were a specialty coffee related project fit for Kickstarter (or IndieGoGo)—turning these photos and stories into a lovely book is one I think would garner a fair bit of support from around the world.
You can view select portraits and read their stories at Birds of Unusual Vitality. Below is an exclusive look at a few of the photos left on the dark room floor. Enjoy.