This small scale project offers a comparison of coffee shops in neighbourhoods in Milan (Italy) and Liverpool (UK) by the photographers Matteo Ceschi and John Meehan.
Milanese bar/caffè (plural i bar, i caffè) are not so different from the other classic caffè in Italy: meeting places where people spend a short or a long time chatting, playing cards, drinking coffee and wine (all bars in Italy have licenses for spirits). In particular, elderly and working class men, shopkeepers and artisans of the neighbourhood visit, while the women are mostly artists and free-lance professionals. And, sure, photographers.
I took shots in the central Genova/Ticinese neighbourhood, where I live. So, I goof around the ‘hood and I meet people and friends. Just the time to drink an espresso and take a picture. Ponkj Bar – where I took the shot of the gorgeous man with the bowler hat – is the historical local, the meeting point for all the hoodies and occasional strangers looking for a coffee or good and cheap wine. Regulars sometimes leave copies of their home keys with barman Paolo (the one with a beard). The decor comes from the past – 1970s Italian past: Che Guevara picture on the wall; a Volkswagen van parked outside; old sugar bowl on the counter, though now theoretically “outlawed” for hygienic reasons, Fabrizio De André music in the background.
Cafes in Liverpool are many and varied. Each tries hard to be hip and stylish to attract affluent Liverpudlians. As a student city Liverpool is geared for younger people. The cafes in and around the city centre are often full of students, graduated freelancers, and other professional people poring over their laptops or peering at their smartphones. There is an energy and vibrancy to the cafe scene.
The limited number of cafe’s in which I took the photographs featured here include the very popular Leaf Cafe on Bold Street (town centre) and 92 Degrees Coffee on Hardman Street (university district). Leaf is a large cafe where people meet friends and business contacts. It is one of the few cafe’s with an alcohol licence. By contrast 92 Degree’s Coffee is a cathedral to that beverage. They roast their own beans and are totally focussed on quality coffee.
Bar’s and cafe’s in Liverpool centre often have short lives and so it is rare to find one with a long history and older staff who have spent years working in them. Staff are generally students or young entrepreneurs. The emphasis is on creating a positive atmosphere with cool (indie) tunes and good service.”