Jeff Newton first fell in love with coffee culture while working at Gold Bar Espresso in Tempe, AZ. Years later, he's a sought after photographer based in Los Angeles whose lens has captured stars like Emma Stone, Tony Hawk, Lindsey Vonn, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Steve Nash, with a client list that includes Nike, Sports Illustrated, Conde Nast, and Popular Science.
But coffee was no passing love for Newton, who married his wife in a cafe called Coffee Talk in Mesa, Arizona. These days, despite a demanding schedule of product campaigns, music videos, and other projects, Newton still heavily frequents the best coffee bars, capturing coffee people and culture for his beautiful coffee photography project called Americano Mondays.
“I needed a creative outlet. Americano Mondays started as the idea of needing to get back to being me and a camera,” explained Newton. “I love coffee culture. I have had the most amazing experiences in coffee shops, life changing conversations and things that would have never happened outside of the coffee scene.” At first Americano Mondays was set up as a section of Newton’s photography blog, but after a few photo shoots he registered the domain and got the Twitter handle, and since then the site has blossomed into a sort of coffee travelogue and cultural history, currently featuring short stories and gorgeous photoshoots of eleven different cafes. Eventually Newton would like to publish a coffee table book of the project.
Newton recently launched a new section to the Americano Mondays site called the AM Live Sessions, featuring intimate performances by different Los Angeles artists in Newton's state-of-the-art studio in the Hollywood Theatre District. The first three musicians were part of a multi-cam shoot with a live audio engineer. Newton hopes to continue the series by setting up AM Live Sessions in coffee bars, documenting music and people interacting with coffee.
Newton’s passion project has yielded some surprising results. When he was asked to shoot an image library for Ticketmaster, he found out the Ticketmaster art director had contacted Newton after coming across Americano Mondays. Newton did the shoot at the UCLA basketball center with 30 extras capturing a style similar to Americano Mondays, but with tickets in their hands instead of cups of coffee.
This year the Big Western Regional Barista Competitions were held in Los Angeles, and Newton swung by to get a dose of the competitive coffee scene. Remembering that day, Newton was all smiles, saying the experience really solidified his love for the coffee community. “There were so many people that I had never met, but we know each other from Instagram. It felt like a real community of people. There was so much openness there.”
Every morning Newton starts his day with some quiet time. He turns off all technology, makes a French press or a Chemex, and savors a precious thirty minutes to read, think about his upcoming work day, and plan which bit of the coffee world he wants to document next. He plans to continue capturing the heart and soul of the coffee community with more coffee bar shoots, coffee stories, and AM Live Sessions on Americano Mondays. And if you see Newton out and about, with or without his camera, he’s always up for a cup.
All photos by Jeff Newton.