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The Instagram Influence: Social Media's Role in the Growth of the Specialty Coffee Industry

If you're sat in a specialty coffee shop, it's pretty likely that at some point you'll spot someone rearranging their mugs, cakes and avocados on toasts to make their layout as aesthetically pleasing as possible. Why? Well it won't fit the theme of their Instagram feed, of course.

This blog post is all about the influence that Instagram has had on the growth of the specialty coffee industry (and vice versa). These two are partners in crime: I honestly believe you couldn't have had one without the other, and each of their growth has definitely complimented the other.

Instagram began its journey back in 2010, where it soon became a fan favourite for selfie lovers, travellers, and well - anyone who wanted to brag about their life in carefully chosen (and filtered!) photography.

What was quite the coincidence was also the growth in new-wave specialty coffee, with many of the what are now iconic businesses of London emerging around this time too. It's easy to say that both industries were definitely targeting the same kind of people.

But why exactly is that? Well, both Instagram and coffee shops appealed to similar consumers, who look for fulfilment through what we call 'immediate gratification'. Without going into too much depth, this basically relates directly to the concept of granting yourself with small rewards which are available quickly, instead of delaying actions for larger recompense.

This relates well to what many see as the primary reason as to why these specialty coffee shops have done so well in the recent years. In what has been quite a miserable decade with economic, political and social turmoils, people have found buying themselves a decent cup of coffee as a small but frequent gift to make themselves feel better.

Combine with this Instagram and its ability to show off your life in small snippets, therefore doesn't need much explanation as to why they both compliment each other well. People soon realised they not only could begin to treat themselves to a small cup of coffee to reward themselves, they could also take a photo of it and show it off to the world!

Hence, the trend began.

As Instagram's popularity continued to rise, so did the number of coffee shops. For what was quite a long time, independent coffee shops really didn't need to engage in huge marketing efforts as they could simply rely on their customers to upload photos and tag accordingly for others to find.

The only thing coffee shops had to increasingly become good at were 'prettifying' their shops to make the shops more 'Instagram friendly', as the term soon became known.

Coffee shops had to invest into making their coffee shops appealing to photograph, focusing on presentation such as latte art and interiors more than ever before. This hasn't stopped, and simply looking at someone like (formerly) TAP coffee and Farm Girl, with their blogger friendly furnishings, shows that the need to develop eye-catching interiors remains prevalent.

This takes me to my last point, bringing emphasis to the last couple of years in the instagrammable culture. Coffee shops big and small have had to promote their shops on social media in a way they had never thought they would have had to do before: marketing through their own social media channels.

What has become a huge industry has obviously been met with equally huge levels of competitiveness. Coffee shops open and close quickly, with only the best of the best surviving. With amazing coffee shops on each corner, it now takes a lot more than simply offering a great cup of coffee to attract customers. With high streets as saturated as they are, a built up area can easily see a good 2-3 independent coffee shops on a single street, emphasising the importance of social media presence for the brand to grow and maintain customer orders.

Instagram has played a huge role in the development of specialty coffee, just as much as the coffee scene has contributed to the tech giant! Arguably, neither would be as storm as they are without the other, and I'm not just saying that for effect in this post: I truly believe that. With the instagrammable coffee culture continuing to grow, with some even dedicating their whole profiles to all things coffee (hello there), it begs the question as to where this will go

Will coffee shops continue to compete for the Instagram spotlight, or will revolts occur where photo taking of coffee is banned (much like the situation with laptops on tables a couple of years ago)? Bit extreme to think, I know, but there are plenty of coffee shops out there who pride themselves on their controversial ideas.

Well, I guess only time will tell where this will lead to.

Hope you liked the blog post, folks. Tell me what you thought, as always.

Until next time, lovelies!

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