Cafe Amico

Executive Summary


Applied Ethnography




August 2022- December 2022


Field: Café Amico
Research Question: Why does Café Amico have such a strong community of returning customers?
Cohering metaphor: Café Amico is an artery in the heart of a community.


Figjam, Google docs, MS Teams


Gathering/ Scheduling interview participants for our field work
Conducting a thorough analysis of our field notes
Spending enough time in the field
Travel time to the field


Kai Laborde
Nicole Brazier
Andrea  Diaz
Kristen Sitro


Ethnography is the study of culture (Ladner, 15). "Ethno" meaning folk or culture, and "grapho," meaning writing.


Applied ethnography is the study of culture with a focus on application towards a private sector. This means gaining a new perspective through immersing oneself in another culture. Café Amico is a small café located in Suwannee Town Center.

While visiting Café Amico I noticed that the café never fails to be filled to the brim every morning. Since then I wondered, what keeps people coming back to local businesses? This is the question we had in mind when deciding to research the Suwanee, Georgia neighborhood café, Café Amico.

Our plan to answer this question involved us working as a team to gather information through fieldwork. Fieldwork involved us doing 10+ hours of observing the café, writing field notes, and interviewing customers.

Once that was done, we created a cohering metaphor to explain our ideas. A cohering metaphor is explaining one thing in terms of another. What makes a cohering metaphor so effective is that it is an effective way to “summarize complex ideas and nuanced findings of qualitative research” (Ladner, 146).


To do this assignment, my team used an applied ethnographic approach. The goal of this approach is to immerse ourselves into the field and "become one " with the people we are observing, studying and analyzing.​Since this project was done for a class, we were working on a shorter time frame than what is normal in the field, we only researched for about two months with a group of four ethnographers.


Initially, the project started as a research pitch assignment for my Ethnography class. Everyone in the class had to create a presentation pitching a location to potentially do research on, mine being the Atlanta Beltline. Once everyone presented each of their pitches, we had to vote for our favorites.​

Since everyone in my group had a mutual interest in language and community, we picked Café Amico, which was initially pitched by Nicole. We managed to gain consent to research Café Amico from the gatekeeper, easily due to Nicole knowing these people beforehand. Because Nicole was familiar with them, it only took a few days to get permission. Gatekeepers are individuals, groups, or organizations who have control or influence over a researcher's access to participants.

One of these gatekeepers was Johanna, one of the owners of the café. Additionally, Nicole was able to schedule an interview with her.


Individually, our team was able to observe the field for ten hours. Altogether we did 40+ hours worth of fieldwork. There were times where we did fieldwork as a group, but for the times where everyone couldn't be present, we would go to the cafe by ourselves. Going by myself did help me focus more on what was going on around me, however other than that there weren't any challenges that kept me from getting my fieldwork completed


One of the core components of our ethnographic research was our individual observations. We took a record of all of the details and interactions we witnessed within Café Amico through observation field notes and jottings. Each of us spent a total of ten hours observing the inside of the café. Most of the time, everyone was not present at the same time since our schedules conflicted. I took a total of three visits to the café in total.​

Through observations, I noticed that there we several constants pertaining to the café. Workers consistently gave the same great service and food to each customer. Furthermore, the café was extremely busy during the mornings, to the point where all tables would be filled. The experiences we went through during the observation stage answered our research question of Why does Café Amico have such a strong community of returning customers?


Along with our observation, our team did several interviews. In total our team gathered a total of four participants, three were regular customers and the fourth was one of the owners, Johanna.





The interviews were done in-person and moderated by our team leader, Nicole Brazier. Before the interviews started, we came up with several interview questions that related to our research question. Each interview lasted between 30-45 minutes. Each of them were very insightful as we got to learn each participants daily lives, how they discovered the café, and their favorite aspects of the café.

Our first interview was with a cyclist from Argentina named Rodolfo. Rodolfo is a person Nicole knew previously so scheduling a interview with him wasn't difficult.​

Arturo was the second person we interviewed. Arturo is also a biker who came to Café Amico after biking with his friends. He has been a regular customer for the past two years​.

Our third interview was with Johanna, one of the owners of Café Amico. Johanna was also the gatekeeper for the field.​Peter was our final interview. Peter is a bartender who enjoys coming to Café Amico after the gym to meet up with his friends.


After doing all of our fieldwork and interviews, we had pages of information containing jottings, observations, and field notes. Our team then met up several more times outside of the café to highlight any important information that related to our research question, whether they held any significance and figuring out any reoccurring patterns The reduced data then was processed using a conceptually ordered matrix.

The matrix is a table that allowed us to categorize our jottings. In the end, we ended up with two ordered matrices, one based on observation-related jottings and the other based on interview-related jottings. Furthermore, they were categorized in the form of questions, which were the following:

Research Report

To sum up our research process, our team got together and compiled a report. The purpose of the report was to portray an in- depth analysis of all our collective research, what we learned, our findings, and overall fieldwork.


Learning to experience what it's like to be an ethnographer was a very enlightening experience. There were some challenges throughout the process, however. The distance to the field site was a major constraint for me and scheduling interviews was hard due to everyone's competing schedules. Despite these hurdles, I was able to get all of my work done and had a great time doing so.

I am grateful to have had such an amazing team to work with. Because of their presence, I learned how to effectively research with other people and how to be an effective ethnographer. If there was one thing I would have done differently if given more time, I would have interviewed more people and done far more jottings than I managed to do.

View Report