Traveling the World, One Coffee at a Time

by  Karen Gardiner | Aug 1, 2013
Espresso in Naples, Italy
Espresso in Naples, Italy / encrier/iStock

Gabriele Galimberti just can't seem to sit still – physically or creatively.

The Italian photographer has spent the last few years traveling the world in pursuit of pictures and stories for his ever-increasing collection of photography projects. He has photographed grandmothers from Malawi to Alaska with their best home-cooked meals for his Delicatessen with love project; sets of identical twins in Brazil's Cândido Godói for the blonde twins of Mengele, and, perhaps most famously, children around the world with their most prized possessions for Toy Stories.

A couple of years ago, while working on all of these other projects, he spent 18 months traveling to 58 different countries for a documentary about couchsurfing. One of his sponsors was Illy Coffee, and he has partnered with them again for a similar project called Coffee Surfing.

The concept is simple: anyone can go to the Coffee Surfing website and submit a story about their life and invite the photographer to meet for a cup of coffee. Galimberti picks the best stories and meets the host in their home where they drink a cup of coffee together. Galimberti photographs them and writes up their story to share on the beautifully designed, parallax scrolling website.

"I look for happy stories." He told me by phone while he was in New York City for the project. "And when I meet with the hosts, I try to make my portrait evoke the story."

Some of Galimberti's favorite stories from the many he has collected include that of Catalina in Colombia who spoke of how she cherishes her memories of the sea although she lives hundreds of miles away in Bogotà. "I could say that, on my little island in Bogotà I’m smiling", reads her story, "but when I am by the sea I'm happy". For her portrait, Galimberti photographed her on water and presented the story on a blue background, evoking the ocean.

Even while traveling with Coffee Surfing, (the next stops are San Francisco, Toronto, and Tuscany) Galimberti keeps an eye on his other projects.

"I am couchsurfing on this project," he told us. "When I go to San Francisco, I will stay with one of Couchsurfing's founders as they will be part of the book."

"I like to do it [couchsurf]. It's kind of my lifestyle now. I always travel alone so it's a good way to be in touch with people."

Galimberti's couchsurfing book is due to come out in Summer 2015, and his Delicatessen with love and Toy Stories book will be out next spring. He is still taking photographs for the couchsurfing book.

"Everytime (I travel) I find a story."

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