Coffee shops around the world are starting to look the same

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If you’re in cities like Mumbai, São Paulo, Seoul, Paris, London, Kuala Lumpur, Lagos—anywhere, really—you might notice something: coffee shops are starting to look the same.

Distinctive design elements—Edison bulbs, reclaimed wood, potted plants, exposed brick—are popping up in coffee shops everywhere. It isn’t just the design of these spaces that are becoming increasingly uniform. The expectation of enjoying beautiful, artfully-decorated, high quality coffee has spread to places as far-flung as Auckland, New Zealand and Atyrau, Kazakhstan. (To understand this, just follow #latteart on Instagram.)

While it’s debatable where this look originated, it has come to be associated with one place: Brooklyn, New York.

Design reporter Kyle Chayka noticed this trend as he traveled the world for work. “Each city had its own version of this generic cafe,” says Chayka. He believes this look, the “Brooklyn” look, might be the first truly global aesthetic. The story of why this look went global leads back to Starbucks, the rise of Silicon Valley, and even the 2008 financial crisis, as Quartz explains in the video above.

Quartz News is a weekly video series bringing you in-depth reporting from around the world. Each episode investigates one story, breaking down the often unseen economic and technological forces shaping our future.

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