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Foodies say, add dataviz spice please

This Buzzfeed article proves that foodies love their food served with dataviz (tip: Chris P.). Menus are an undertapped resource when it comes to data visualization.

There are several examples worth discussing.


Venn diagrams are not easy to read, people.

Plus they are hard to construct well... note the asymmetric areas.

Here is one without circles:


Then, I pared it down to its essence:



This beer map is pretty great:


Some of its virtues:

  • The spacious layout utilizing two dimensions, instead of a one-dimensional list of dense text
  • Ordering using two dimensions relevant to the decision problem (assuming those two dimensions are the most important for their clients)
  • Unconventional, attention-grabbing
  • More equitable: different readers will read the chart in different orders. I'll hypothesize that they will end up with a more even distribution of drink orders than with a list in which everyone reads top to bottom

Potential problems:

  • Not enough space to explain the drinks. Don't the clients want to know what's in them?
  • I wonder how they measured the degree of "classic"-ness.


This next menu contains an error:


When the drink comes in one size, only one price is listed. If it comes in two sizes, two prices should be listed.

Is the cafe owner shading Americans as not good at math?


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I'm not clever enough to see the error :(


I don’t see the error either.

“If it comes in two sizes, two prices should be listed.” — What does this mean? I’d there a drink on the menu that comes in two sizes but has only one price listed? How do you know it comes in two sizes at this bar? If they list one price, it probably means they only make it in one size.

“Is the cafe owner shading Americans as not good at math?” — I don’t get this either. The americano is an espresso with warm water added. It costs a bit more than an espresso because it costs more time and effort to make than an espresso. In Europe, the primary cost of beverages like this is the labor. — Tip is included!

Adam Schwartz

I assumed it was the Americano, which is listed at 2.50 either way. I suppose it could be accurate, if a larger sized Americano was simply one with more water in it. :)


Yeah, the Americano isn't a shot at Americans' math - it's a shot at their coffee.


Yes, you guys got it. The Americano is listed with two prices but they are the same price. Shouldn't it be listed with a single price like the espresso?


Kaiser - I don't believe there's any error. I interpret it as them saying you can get two sizes, but it's the same price because they're just adding water.

If that's the case, and they only listed one priced, it wouldn't be apparent that you can order two sizes.

Obviously I can't know if that's true, but seems quite plausible.


jlb: you found a setting in which the data can be explained :) But our priors are different. We'd have to order a large Americano to verify!
From a dataviz perspective, I'd still argue it lacks clarity.

Ian Watkins

It's a cocktail map, not a beer map. I was quite disappointed to click on the image and not see stouts, lagers, IPAs, etc. :-)

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