Memento: Minna Lee

No matter where we travel to, there are things we take with us—or things we bring home to remember a place. That’s the purpose of this series: to learn about the #LojelCollective's favorite items or keepsakes, and the stories behind them.

I've never been one to collect souvenirs; kitschy keychains, shirts, and magnets never seemed all that meaningful to me. But as I began to rack up the stamps in my passport, I started wishing that I had something tangible from my travels—beyond photos—to evoke memories of the cities I was lucky enough to have explored.

Paris, France: The first thing I do when I touch down in my favorite European city is go for coffee—I usually take an overnight flight from NYC and arrive in the early morning. Those Parisians put something special in their beans, I swear, because it is magic every time.

photo by Minna Lee / @livingminnaly

Paris, France: Montemartre has all the charm of Paris and Provence, wrapped into one. Springtime in this neighborhood brings about the gorgeous lilac wisterias that adorn the pastel-colored buildings on every corner.

photo by Minna Lee / @livingminnaly

As an avid coffee drinker, I always look forward to finding the best local coffee shops and roasters wherever I go. If you look at the maps app on my phone, you’re guaranteed to find a sprinkling of pins marking cafés in each destination I’ve been to. After savoring cup after cup, I got the idea to take a bag of coffee beans home with me from each place I visited. Both personal and practical (because I have to buy coffee anyway), bringing home fresh beans infused with international flavors quickly became a tradition.

New York, New York: I love looking at the NYC skyline from above. Nothing says “home,” as much as that view.

photo by Minna Lee / @livingminnaly

New York, New York: There aren’t many scenes that feel as quintessentially New York than horse-drawn carriages in Central Park.

photo by Minna Lee / @livingminnaly

Every time I return home from a trip, it makes me so happy to unzip my luggage and unpack a new bag of coffee beans. I brew pour-over coffee with a Hario V60; my morning ritual of taking a few minutes to indulge my senses is one of my favorite parts of my day—and it’s become that much more special when I’m using the beans that remind me of distant little corners around the world.

Los Angeles, California: I love getting to know the baristas in each city I go to. After chatting with a barista in L.A. about his new adopted puppy, I picked up some Ethiopian beans to take home with me.

photo by Minna Lee / @livingminnaly

Santa Monica, California: Dipping your toes along Santa Monica’s sandy coastline is a must— the sunsets here never get old for me.

photo by Minna Lee / @livingminnaly

Written by: Minna Lee