Intelligentsia Coffee: Wes Taylor
Wes Taylor is a photographer from Wicker Park in Chicago. He moved there last year after graduating from university in the suburbs, and now shoots commercial work & portraiture. We spent the day with him at the Wicker Park Intelligentsia, then in his studio to make more coffee.
When was the first time you had specialty coffee?
I was with my friends Kyle and Ashley. We were downtown, and we went to Intelligentsia after taking the train to Millennium Station. My first experience with good coffee was mostly about the people I was with, as opposed to just the coffee. It was about the experience of drinking coffee together.
What’s your morning routine?
It depends on the day. The main thing I do every day is wake up by 8:30 usually. That’s something I didn’t do when I was in college. If I didn’t have anything that day, I’d sleep in. So waking up at the same time has been the most important choice I’ve made for the past several months. Even if I don’t have anything big to do, or if I stay in my room for a little while, having that consistency is good. That’s the only consistent part of my mornings; if I have a shoot up here or a brunch, or editing, it can look different.
What’s your ideal day in Chicago?
Waking up and making coffee and going to brunch for starters. The level and type of rest I need depends on how the rest of the days around it have been; if I haven’t been with anyone for a bit, the ideal is being with people, meeting new people and learning about them. If I’ve already been doing that a lot, my ideal day is not having any responsibility and focusing on a task, whether it’s cleaning the house, reading, editing or shooting.
What are some of your favorite places to do brunch and get food?
I mentioned before that I love consistency; I tend to go to the same places. I know there are a lot of places to get food, but I love having a few that are my place. Longman & Eagle is my go-to, and I love Lula Cafe. The Winchester is also really nice.
If you could be anywhere else, where would it be and why?
Europe. Not totally sure where specifically; I haven’t spent an extended amount of time anywhere, but I like the energy in the cities I have visited, and the sense of history. Context is really important to me, and I enjoy knowing how rich and old things are there. The traditions and buildings - I like fitting into that aesthetic. I think I would enjoy that more than an urban city context.
What are some experiences there you’ve had so far?
I went to Austria last summer with friends for our own Sound of Music tour. That level of history was cool - seeing these places that were in this film 60 years ago. These classic spots were still there, but to consider the history they had preceding the film was something to think about. I mean it feels to me that’s where a lot of coffee and cafe culture started, so I enjoyed being there and getting that sense.
What’s it like being a creative in Chicago?
I think if nothing else, I’m comfortable here. I’ve spent a good amount of time here, even before I moved up. It feels like home, so I feel confident in my ability to create here. Especially here, in my actual home. You can learn the energy of a city with the more time you spend in it; in other cities, sometimes it’s less easy for me to figure out how to fit in and create there. I do enjoy that - the concept of figuring out a city. But in Chicago, I know how the city feels, and how I want to feel in the city.
How would you describe Chicago’s energy?
It’s a good mix of rest and work. When I go to New York, I end up leaving overwhelmed because it’s so intense. I love going to Portland or other cities that are calm, but I’m not always as productive there as I’d like to be. So in Chicago, I like having found a balance between the two.