As a writer in my mid-twenties, I’ve spent many days in coffee shops. As a result, I’ve grown quite fond of coffee and overpriced scones. On top of this fact, I am a man. Based on this criteria, I should have what it takes to be featured on the wildly popular Instagram account @menandcoffee. I mean, me, a man, takes a picture holding a mug that presumably carries coffee. There, I’m in.
Except not quite. After browsing the account’s gallery of images, I found that this wasn’t the case. All of the men featured on Men & Coffee are modern Adonises. They embody everything it means to be an attractive male in today’s society.
They’ve got muscles, man buns, and tattoos—the absolute hottie trifecta. So after this revelation, I took another more studied look at the account, taking inventory of what a Men & Coffee man must possess in order to make the cut. Here, based on the images featured, is the criteria:
A Men & Coffee model:
• Must be male
• Must be holding a coffee mug, cup, maker, or other vessel that is presumably carrying coffee, either hot or iced
• Must be incredibly good-looking (at least a nine on the looks scale)
• Must be in great shape (there are some slender guys featured, but these instances are rare. There are NO overweight men)
• Must own—or know somebody who owns—a professional camera; very few images appear to be shot with a smartphone
• Must look like he’s lived in Brooklyn at some point in his life (i.e. he should have: a beard, tattoos, plaid clothing, a trust fund, etc.)
• Must edit his images to look aged, utilizing increased exposure and heavy fade
Here are some examples of previous Men & Coffee men:
While I do have some of these attributes working to my advantage (I’m male, I own a coffee mug, I have a beard, tattoos, and own plaid clothing), I’m otherwise very average.
That means, to be featured on Men & Coffee, which boasts over 298k followers and is adored by everybody who is romantically or sexually interested in men, I would have to be strategic and really work at making myself worthy of Men & Coffee, as sad as that sounds. So that’s what I was going to do.
I made it my girlfriend’s duty to take photos of me for the account. She went to art school, so I figured she was an ideal candidate for photography. Also, she was free, which was the ultimate deciding factor. Since it was Fall, the setting we decided on was a popular hiking trail in my hometown, which took about two hours. We then headed home and selected the images we felt best represented a Men & Coffee man. These were the results:
Men & Coffee tends to favor guys with tattoos, so I rolled up my sleeves a bit to present mine.
Nothing says I like coffee on a brisk Fall day more than a beanie, denim jacket, and a park bench.
Picture three was chosen to play off the “You don’t feature enough gingers in your account,” angle. I disposed of the beanie, thus revealing my fiery locks, and stared off into the scenery, which happened to be an empty parking lot.
My favourite of the bunch.
I didn’t want to have too many images of the mug because it didn’t seem like the right fit considering the woodsy setting, but this picture was by far the best of all the mug shots—lol, mug shots.
I sent these five images to Men & Coffee through their ‘Submit A Photo’ feature on their website, and I posted picture four on my Instagram account with #menandcoffee tagged.
Within minutes, I’d witness my image get overthrown by dozens of other pictures with the same tag. This was a war of vanity in which only beautiful would emerge victorious.
And beautiful I was not. About a week and a half after I had posted my image, I’d come to terms with the fact that I wasn’t a Men & Coffee man.
Though I hate to say it, I was more affected by the account not including me than I thought. Somehow, a social media account made me feel like Frankenstein’s monster. “Don’t worry about it, babe. The only guys who make it are models, and that kind of look doesn’t appeal to me,” my girlfriend told me over coffee, of all things.
I knew she was only saying this to make me feel better, but her observation carried weight. With that, I took another look at the account to see what professions these good-looking gents actually held.
As she suggested, the majority of men were models, personal trainers, and professional athletes. I then decided I’d speak with a few of these beautiful men.
One, Adam Cam (@adamcam10), is a personal trainer who is so beautiful that he was actually contacted by Tooby for his picture, and the other, Daniel Zigler (@Danzbeard), is a fitness ambassador, who tagged his photos three times before he was featured.
Both men have beautiful bodies borne by pure dedication and admit they do in fact love coffee and that there was coffee in their mugs when photographed. Cam attests the key to getting featured is to “take a good quality picture, and do something different—try to stand out from the crowd.” While Zigler adds, “Having your shirt off seems to help.”
“I wouldn’t say ‘most’ of the men are male models but there are definitely a big chunk of them,” Alex Tooby, the 25-year-old creator of Men & Coffee, told me after I’d unsuccessfully submitted my images. “A lot of the men who approach me to be featured are in that industry because Instagram has proven itself as a great platform for exposure.
“There are a fair share of ‘average Joes’ on the feed who are baristas, carpenters, and doctors,” she attests, but these cases are a rarity. Despite Tooby’s testimony, you’ll see there’s most certainly a Men & Coffee “type”: fit, bearded, and white.
At its inception, Tooby informs me that the account was originally geared toward baristas and the trending coffee culture. But once her account went viral courtesy of various media outlets, her direction shifted toward beautiful men.
As such, Men & Coffee has grown from an honest perspective of the craft of coffee making, to an account that showcases hottest of hot, and has become a launching pad for other “hot guy” accounts like: @hotmeninbeds, @menandwine, @cutboyswithcats, and @hotdudeswithdogs—all of which collectively boast millions of followers.
This evolution is understandable. Tooby, and those like her, created an account that was about to receive a ridiculous amount of traffic and media attention.
Through trial and error, Tooby discovered her account would see more likes, comments, and followers when she’d feature wildly attractive men in tighty whities opposed to baristas honing their craft. And with more traffic, Tooby can better profit more from the account’s new premise. So naturally, that’s where she went with it.
Social media, like all media platforms before it, is a machine driven by the beautiful—in this app’s case, driven by beautiful people who’ve managed to accumulate enough of a following to be considered “Instagram famous.” The best part is that this fame seems achievable—a seal of affirmation through ‘likes,’ which are the precious jewels we strive for when posting an image.
I’m sure some people will assume I’m bitter with the account, but the idea of men’s growing insecurities about their appearance has only just recently been addressed. But I did know what I was getting into when I submitted my images. I chose to do this to see if I could be a part of this elite legion of men, and I wasn’t.
I get that I’m an average-looking guy. I go to the gym, but destroy a pizza for dinner—this is not the means of building a six pack. Perhaps if I opted for quinoa salad instead, I could have posed topless with my briefs pulled so low that I revealed some suggestive butt cleavage as I held a mug. Perhaps then I would have gotten chosen. But I didn’t, and the guys who have did.
The better question here is, why the hell was getting featured such a big deal for me? If I’m being honest I wanted validity from a source that wasn’t my girlfriend, a friend, or a family member to tell me I was a good-looking guy. Since social media is exactly that—social—Men & Coffee seemed the easiest way to find out, since all I’d have to do is take a picture with a cup of coffee and hashtag it.
Seeing as the account is so popular, I looked to Tooby as the ultimately authority to determine this answer—the account is arguably one of the most trusted, and its legions of followers are proof. Even though I didn’t receive the result I was hoping for, I found my answer.
I bought into the superficiality that accounts like Men & Coffee perpetuate, and was let down for it. I found that I am to be a mere spectator of such revered content, not worthy of adoration. The validity I already received from those close to me would have to suffice—and I guess it does.
When I look at my gorgeous girlfriend and my parents who are still very much in love, it should be enough. Likes and comments shouldn’t determine mine or anybody’s worth. Social media is just the latest form of media to establish a hierarchy like all previous media have done before it, and pledge allegiance to the beautiful, with the average feeding into it with likes, follows, and comments.
Maybe it’s time to become a tea drinker.