In the era of COVID-19, the meaning of “home” has been redefined. We eat, study, work, and even exercise at home. Much of this was done, in what seems like an age ago, outside. From our changed circumstances we are starting to put more importance on our new indoor lifestyle. In other words, we are finding better ways to spend time at home. Brewing our own coffee and interior designing are becoming ever more popular and reflect how much COVID-19 has changed our lives.
Due to extended social distancing and further restrictions on gathering, people have started to find their own ways to enjoy tea time. According to Starbucks Coffee Korea, there has been a 33 percent rise in the sale of coffee beans compared to last year. Last December, when cafés had to comply with “take-out only” restrictions, sales of coffee beans rose by 29 percent point than the previous year.
Kim Ye-sun, a sophomore from the Division of International Studies, said that the pandemic was exactly why she not only began brewing her own coffee, but also started to bake her own desserts to accompany it. This little routine motivates her to study easier and get through the passing of so much time inside.
“I usually mix instant coffee with hot water and then pour heated milk,” she said. “I pretty much taught myself how to make coffee by practicing it over and over. I picked up different skills like latte art by watching some YouTube videos of baristas.”
Kim mentioned that by becoming her own barista she is able to enjoy the leisurely routine of making coffee. She taught herself how to control the delicate caffeine concentration and also enhanced it by making her own desserts and presented them together just as a café would.
“The whole process of creating a home café is truly enjoyable,” she said. “But the taste is often not as sophisticated or of high-quality as the ones sold at cafés. For example, I can’t make professional milk latte art like the baristas because I don’t have the equipment.”
She mentioned that anyone can create an at-home café without using expensive professional coffee equipment. Using an electric whisk from Daiso to create milk foam and a simple milk steamer to make the milk bubble are some of the ways Kim has been recreating her past lifestyle.
Not only is brewing coffee at home gaining popularity, but interior design is also taking off with social media posts and hashtags leading the way. #homestagram is one of the newest hashtags to see how people are re- decorating their lives and creating more ‘stay-at-home’ friendly interiors. This is being boosted by television programs such as “The House Detox,” which helps celebrities reorganize their house to fit and suit their lifestyles.
Architect Chung Ye-rang shared her ideas on the recent trend of home furnishing receiving public attention.
“It is a good thing that diverse contents related to housing and interiors are increasing since there are not much opportunities for people to observe others’ homes in Korea,” Chung said. “I wish that people encounter different homes directly and indirectly, and take time to think about one’s daily life and the life one dream of while asking oneself questions about which kind of house they prefer to live in.”
Chung stated that the meaning of “house” for the young generation has changed over the years but still remains as a sign of exploitation, speculation, and desire. She emphasized that the value of house comes from the “extent of comfort”, rather than the “extent of space”. By pointing out that people need to escape from the old customs, norms, and forms of the past, Chung highlighted the importance of being able to respond to the rapidly changing lifestyles and the functions of home nowadays.
How much more the COVID-19 pandemic will shape our lives remains an open question, but for now behaviors and habits we never gave a second thought before are almost normal now.