Coffee Cup Design Series explores the specialty coffee brands with unique designs that stand out and fire the imagination. This week, we spoke to Bean Shot Coffee about their innovative approach to conveying flavour notes.
When Nick Law agreed to move to the UK with his wife, it was under one condition: that he could launch his own specialty coffee business.
Coming from Australia, he had quickly realised that Britain’s coffee shops, at the time, lagged well behind those back home. So, with the aim of introducing Australia’s commitment to quality and aesthetics to UK coffee consumers, he started Bean Shot Artisan Coffee in Bruton, Somerset.
Around six months after launching, Nick brought Graham Cox onboard to help the business grow. Within a few years, they had not only carved out a niche for themselves in the South West, but sparked a revolution of specialty coffee brands.
“By and large, we have had a really good reception,” Graham says. “We were the first specialty coffee place to arrive and there are now about 15 other coffee spots in Bruton.
“Since coming in and finding our niche, we’re now seeing other places focusing on latte art and going down educational routes. We’re creating this ripple effect.”
Although Bean Shot started out as wholesalers, this gradually morphed into selling bags and cups of coffee out the back of the roastery. Before long, they had set their sights on a café of their own.
“We were very much just a destination for coffee,” Graham tells me. “We did a small selection of cakes, but there was no food.
“That grew to a point and was great for us getting our name and branding out there. We then started looking for other sites and stumbled upon this place in a town called Sherborne in Dorset. We really liked it and everything added up – so we went for it.”
Branding for a specialty coffee business can be difficult to nail first time round. Very few leave an initial design unchanged, particularly as the nature of the brand develops.
When Bean Shot rebranded, they went from what Graham describes as a “rustic style” to something they felt more accurately conveyed their values.
“We liked the black and white aspect of the old logo,” he says, “but it looked amateurish. The whole point of the rebrand was to turn Bean Shot into something sophisticated, upmarket, and synonymous with the high-quality coffee we were producing.”
Graham, Nick, and their design team put their heads together to brainstorm how they could encapsulate the business and its aims. It was during this time that they struck on an idea.
“With the discussion we had with our branding consultant and graphic designer, they said ‘You’re all about the flavour’ and it was almost like this lightbulb moment.
“Instead of reading through descriptors, we thought it would be better to create pictorial flavour notes.
“For example, fruity coffees are depicted with bumps that almost look like a raspberry, and the citrus one has some sharp lines that look like segments of a lemon or a lime.”
The result is a droplet – representing the first drop of coffee that falls from a pour-over – containing various pictorial flavour notes. These come together to form an image reminiscent of earth, sun, and water.
“With the main logo, we incorporated a few of the flavour notes to represent the sun, the earth, and the growing of the coffee. It ties into this one big circle of crop to cup.”
Making coffee accessible
As well as carrying coffee, Bean Shot’s takeaway cups have become something of a status symbol over the years.
While many specialty brands opt for generic cups, Nick and Graham recognised the value of a strong cup design from the outset.
“Our target demographic is those on social media,” Graham says. “So posting a photo of the cup with the logo on it and people doing selfies with it provides a springboard for us to continually promote ourselves.
“With the quality we produce and our reputation, carrying one of our cups around is seen as a bit of a status symbol to say, ‘I’ve just bought the best coffee in town’.”
This approach has spilled into their own merchandise in the form of t-shirts which, in addition to the logo, scream “Bloody Good Coffee” in bold white lettering.
However, as well as a marketing tool, Bean Shot have deployed their logo in other ingenious ways.
For example, on their bags, they change the droplets depending on the coffee’s specific flavour notes. The bigger the droplet, the more prominent the note.
Each one also has a colour to guide customers who want to make repeat purchases.
“If you ask a customer, ‘Did you have a Yirgacheffe Rocko Mountain or an Ethiopian Kata Maduga?’’ nobody will remember.
“But if you can say, ‘Was the last bag you had pink?’ or you ask them to tell you the colour of their last coffee bag, then it’s accessible to all customers. By introducing loads of jargon you’re just not doing that.”
All these elements come together to create a distinctive bag that makes you want not only to grab from the shelf but to keep long after the coffee is finished.
And while it doesn’t carry a lot of information about the coffee itself, customers can find out all the details they need online.
“We wanted to make the labels as sleek and trimmed down as possible so that at some point we might be able to go with the droplets alone,” Graham explains. “Having said that, all the information is on the website or customers can ask us questions in store.”
It’s this combination of accessibility, innovative design, and commitment to quality that has helped Bean Shot rise through the ranks of specialty coffee. And, by standing firmly by this approach, I’ve no doubt they will continue to do so.
Did you enjoy this edition of The Coffee Bag Design Series? Next week, we’ll be speaking to Tijuana-based roasters Caffe Sospeso.
Photo credits: Bean Shot Coffee