10 Minutes With Jenn Callender

We chat with Jenn Callender, the nurse-turned-content creator for La Marzocco Cafe’s Instagram account.


Photos courtesy of Joshua Littlefield

Jenn Callender creates content for @lamarzoccocafe, the Instagram profile for the Seattle café and showroom by the makers of their namesake espresso machines. The expansive café is located in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood and shared with KEXP, a listener-supported radio station. I’ve interviewed Jenn before for “Like Is A Battlefield: The Importance of Instagram to Your Brand,” out now in the June + July 2019 issue of Barista Magazine. Jenn chatted with me about her role with La Marzocco, what makes a great Instagram post, and how she started bringing snake plants into the café.

Note: This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Mark Van Streefkerk: Tell me about your official title and role with La Marzocco.

Jenn Callender: I’ve been doing freelance marketing and photography for the café since March of 2016, about a month before the café opened.

My overall responsibility is to tell about La Marzocco, to gather and share information and stories about our monthly rotating roasters-in-residence, to get the word out about what’s happening at the café, and what we’re excited about. I do that by taking photographs, writing content for the café’s Instagram and Facebook, blog posts for the website, café newsletters, some radio spots, and all café event promotion. I work closely with both the café and the marketing team at La Marzocco USA.

I also have a lifelong love affair with plants and flowers. I brought in all the plants when the café opened and I keep them green. There’s not a lot of natural light so the plants I use are pothos, ZZ plants, and snake plants. Those are all really good for low light and don’t need to be watered super-regularly.

Jenn brings low-light plants to the La Marzocco Cafe to bring some life to the space.

What was your relationship with coffee before you started working with La Marzocco? 

Before my 13th birthday I saw a commercial of someone drinking an espresso, and I just thought that was so cool and I wanted to have my birthday party at a café. As a 13-year-old, I had a birthday party at this café in a tiny town in British Columbia where I grew up. I ordered an espresso and it was awful! I kinda thought there was something wrong with it. But I remember the joy of just sitting there at the café with my friends, talking and laughing.

In 2008 (my husband) purchased one of the very first La Marzocco GS3 home espresso machines, which we’ve had sitting on various kitchen counters ever since. It’s safe to say we’ve connected with many, many friends old and new over the years because of that espresso machine and because of coffee.

Did you ever think you’d be working with La Marzocco?

No! My background is in healthcare management. I’m a nurse. Working in coffee was never on my radar. I am very grateful the opportunity presented itself when it did. It’s allowed me to connect with incredible people in the coffee industry. 

Do you still work in the healthcare field?

I’m volunteering once a week at a homeless shelter for women, children, and families who are experiencing homelessness; it’s called Mary’s Place and it’s a wonderful organization. 

How do you approach Instagram and social media?

My approach is to create categories of content for La Marzocco social media accounts that help share the mission of the café. One category would be about La Marzocco’s rich history, another about our roasters in residence or their events. I build out the content calendar with fixed dates first, posts about specific events, holidays, or resident launch days. I fill in the rest with posts that are more flexible, like specific menu items, our team, and our residents. 

What makes a La Marzocco post also a Jenn Callender post?

Any post that communicates what it is we want our guests and our audience to know—but again going back to the joy that I felt sitting in that cafe with my friends at age 13: I really want others to know they can come to the La Marzocco Cafe and feel that same excitement and connection over really good coffee in a space that really is welcoming to anybody. 

I think it’s important to offer gratitude whenever possible to our café team, to our roasters in residence, to our guests, whoever it might be. Aesthetically, I like to take photos that use natural light, that are clean and bright photos. I love to use pops of color included in there whenever I can as well.

What kind of camera do you use?

I use a very basic Nikon D5300. It’s an intro DSLR camera. I have a couple different lenses for it, but it does really well for what I need. I use Lightroom to do some editing afterwards.

Jenn uses a simple Nikon D5300 to get the cafe’s shots, which include a range of simple, natural light-driven images.

What are some pro Instagram tips you can share with us?
(Jenn laughs) I’m not sure I would consider myself a pro, but I can tell you what works for me. First of all, have a plan. Create different areas of content that you know you want to talk about. I try to plan posts about a month out. I start by filling in set dates, event dates, holidays, things like that. Plan those out. Leave some space for flexibility. Within that plan, stay consistent with your overall tone and aesthetic. I usually average four to five posts per week.

If the person in charge of your social media has never done it before, (it’s important) for them to take a basic photography or design course. There are so many that are offered for free or for very little charge online, websites like Skillshare. For café managers or owners, understand it’s not really a small job if you want it done well. You need to designate one or maybe two people to do it and to factor in enough time for them to do it in addition to their other responsibilities, or consider making it a part-time or even full-time position based on needs and budget. There’s a whole lot of work that goes into creating content, posting, and doing that well, but be sure to take time to then engage with people who connect with you and respond to questions and comments as much as possible. It not only shows appreciation that they’re there, but that you value what they say and think.

Jenn plans the calendar a month out for La Marzocco Cafe’s Instagram.
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Mark Van Streefkerk
is Barista Magazine’s social media content developer and a frequent contributor. He is also a freelance writer, social media manager, and novelist based out of Seattle. If Mark isn’t writing, he’s probably biking to his favorite vegan restaurant. Find out more on his website.