I drink a lot of coffee, or at least I did. That was until I spent the month of February tracking my coffee consumption in excruciating detail.
This past quarter, I was enrolled in HCDE 511 – Visual Communication, taught by Sean Bolan, a visual designer and design thinker who had us visualize complex data for our final project, with the deliverable being something similar to an infographic. Learning about this in January, I decided that a dataset I would be interested in visualizing was my own coffee consumption, since I often joke that coffee is my blood. I decided to keep track of each cup of coffee I drank, noting the time, quantity, type of drink, type of coffee, variety of coffee bean, location it was purchased at, cost and an image of the cup. This data was tracked in a blog I set up, aptly named “Is This Too Much Coffee.”
Given that I wanted to come up with as organic of results as possible, I tried not to adjust my habits at all – making sure not to bias the data. After 28 days, I moved all the information into Excel and started thinking about various ways to show how much coffee I drink. This process was done via sketches in class and rough infographics, with peer feedback given throughout the process. My final results were quite shocking and extremely valuable to me as a consumer of coffee.
A clip from the introduction page, noting the total amount of money spent and cups of coffee consumed.
The final result includes six different visualizations, ranging from hourly consumption data to a visual break up of the types of coffee beverages I had organized by size. While the final deliverable was definitely informative in the aspect of coffee consumption, I also created the entire project in InDesign, learning a number of print design principles along the way. Working with personal data definitely helped motivate me to create interesting graphics to not only help me understand what my habits looked like, but to allow others entry in to the discussion.
Part of the map of where I consumed coffee most frequently in the Seattle area.
As I said in the beginning, my habits have changed significantly since doing this project, with my typical consumption down to 1-2 cups of coffee per day, and only about 2 cups of coffee not home-brewed each week. It’s saving me money, probably better for my health, and a much more sustainable solution moving forward. Thanks for checking this out and I would love to hear any feedback you have about the project.
To view the final product, click here.