Tel Aviv artist Ilanit Shamia always leaves her Florentin apartment in order to drink her morning Americano at a local cafe.
Now that morning habit is part of a daily project, “Koret Bacafe” or Reading in the Cafe, a play on words in which cafe means coffeeshop in English but coffee in Hebrew.
Shamia sketches that day’s coffee cup (on her iPad), along with a quote — in English — from whatever she’s reading that morning, posting it on her Koret Bacafe Instagram account.
One Monday morning illustration featured an iridescent white mug from Stefan Austrian Bakery on Tel Aviv’s Tchernikosvky Street, with a quote from Smithsonian Magazine about food tech.
A few days before, it was a to-go cup — not Shamia’s favorite kind of mug — from Way Cup Coffee, with a quote from a National Public Radio piece about an Oklahoma center dedicated to Bob Dylan.
Shamia’s daily coffee habit has developed into a coffee blog of sorts, with some one hundred coffee cups and quotes sketched over the last few months. Like many projects initiated by the Bezalel-trained Shamia, she’s never quite sure where it will go.
“It’s something like a morning meditation,” said Shamia.
Or like morning journaling, just with her coffee and favorite quote of the moment.
Like many artistic projects of the moment, Koret Bacafe began because of COVID-19, when Shamia could finally venture out again to her favorite neighborhood cafes after the lockdowns.
For that first post, she was sitting at a cafe with a cup etched with flowers and that day’s Haaretz newspaper, when she photographed the still life for Instagram, commenting, “Koret Bacafe.”
“I couldn’t quite believe no one else had ever come up with that saying,” said Shamia, who found no hashtags or accounts with the term.
Her friends urged her to do something with the idea, letting the illustrated mugs take her on a daily cafe travelogue of sorts.
Now she spends an hour or two each morning — but never on Fridays, her sacred day off — drawing the coffee cup and quote of the day.
While her cafes are mostly in Tel Aviv, with occasional jaunts to Jerusalem and Haifa, she’s found that posting her morning coffee on Instagram connects her to the global village, as cafes in Hong Kong or Italy follow her and share her drawing, often because of the articles she quotes and tags in her Instagram post.
“It’s about drawing with emotion,” said Shamia, pondering what makes this project feel so familiar to others. “Coffee in the morning is a ceremony that does good. You find your peace at that moment, you catch your vibe of the day. And at the cafe, you’re with people but you’re on your own.”