Today, coffee consumers are interested in knowing more about the coffee they buy than ever before. They want to know where it comes from, who grew it, how it’s processed, and when it was roasted. For specialty coffee roasters, this means the more information they can provide, the more likely they are to increase sales and boost customer loyalty.
One of the most effective ways of doing this is through packaging design. Clever packaging design that both attracts attention and reveals information about the coffee’s origin can be a successful way of drawing in customers and making them feel more connected with the brand. As most consumers aren’t able to travel to coffee-growing regions themselves, portraying a coffee’s story can also help foster a greater appreciation for the work that goes into its production.
To find out more about bringing consumers closer to origin through packaging design, I spoke with the Head of Quality Control at Bella Vista Coffee, World Cup Taster finalist, and MTPak Coffee Ambassador, Dulce Barrera.
See also: What Is Single Origin Coffee?
Portraying Origin On Coffee Packaging
As demand for specialty coffee has grown in recent years, it has given rise to greater interest in the origin of coffee and the people behind it. Supply chain transparency, in which companies share full details of a coffee’s journey, is becoming increasingly important for consumers, while knowledge of the work that goes into a cup of coffee is also valued.
However, for the average coffee consumer, visiting a coffee-producing country to connect more closely with the coffee they buy is often out of the question. Not only does it require considerable planning, it can also be expensive and time-consuming. Furthermore, coffee farmers have busy schedules and may not appreciate hordes of curious visitors appearing on their doorsteps.
Coffee packaging that brings customers closer to origin without the need to fly overseas can have benefits for both specialty coffee roasters and end-consumers.
For specialty roasters, it can contribute towards creating a strong brand identity and conveying a positive message to consumers. By showcasing origin on packaging, it demonstrates an appreciation for the work that goes into producing coffee, as well as the people behind it. It also shows sensitivity to the demands of consumers, enhancing the perception of a well-rounded, transparent company, rather than one focused solely on profit.
For consumers, it can help them understand more about the coffee they buy and encourage them to seek out even more information. They may feel more connected to the product, and, as such, take greater interest in other aspects of the coffee, such as how it was processed.
Dulce Barrera is in charge of Quality Control at Bella Vista Coffee in Guatemala. She’s participated in three World Cup Taster Championships, finishing fourth in 2019. In the same year, she was crowned Guatemala Cup Taster Champion, her third in a row.
She tells me that presenting origin on packaging in a clear, visually appealing way can help consumers understand more about the coffee they buy.
“If they have all this information presented to them in an easy way, consumers will be encouraged to start fine tuning their palate and defining their tastes,” she explains. “This could include everything from country and region, to processing methods and varieties.”
As well as inspiring interest in different aspects of coffee, it can also foster an emotional attachment between consumer and product. Over the course of their lives, consumers interact with tens of thousands of brands, yet they will only form an emotional attachment with a few of them.
Depicting your coffee’s origin on the packaging will improve the chance of a consumer developing an emotional bond with your product by transporting them to the heart of coffee-growing regions.
Originality: Standing Out From Competitors
According to Entrepreneur, originality is one of the most important factors for brands that want to stand out. By finding an original angle, it allows brands to set themselves apart from their competitors and create products that resonate with consumers. It also helps them find a voice that is wholly their own, making their products immediately recognisable on the shelf.
Atlas Coffee Club is a coffee subscription business that uses the origin of their coffees to create a distinctive brand image. They dedicate the entire front-facing panel of their coffee bags to showcasing origin, drawing inspiration from the textiles and landscapes of each coffee-growing region.
“Each coffee bag was created to connect the coffee consumer to the country,” says co-founder Jordan Rosenacker in an interview for Sprudge. “We want our customers to feel more connected to the countries producing the coffee. We essentially try to operate as coffee tour guides, connecting coffee lovers and coffee newcomers to each country. We want to celebrate the various cultures and regions from around the world without distractions like logos and branded messages.”
The result is a striking packaging design that not only captures the essence of the coffee-producing countries, but also attracts attention when placed next to other coffee brands on the shelf.
“Every coffee packaging design carries some form of message,” says Dulce. “Packaging can be very nice to look at and that can attract the end-consumer. If they like it, they may even keep it, or put it out on display for guests to see.”
How Can Roasters Portray Origin On Their Coffee Packaging
Specialty coffee roasters have a number of options when it comes to depicting origin on their coffee packaging, from colourful illustrations to quirky typeface.
Dulce explains that you can be as creative as you like when it comes to designing your coffee bags, so long as it captures the essence of the country or region you’re portraying.
“Using colours found in the country’s flag, depicting landscapes, or featuring national symbols are all good options,” she says. “You could also include something that represents a specific coffee, such as the cherry, the plant, or different moments in its life cycle.”
Switzerland-based roasters Utopia Coffee include landscapes, climate, geography, and other cultural representations of different origins in the design of their coffee bags, using a simple palette of pastel tones. This helps to create a familiar brand identity, despite the differences in design.
Biji Coffee Company, meanwhile, have taken a bold yet highly successful approach to marketing the origin of their coffees using illustrations of farmers on bright red backgrounds. Underneath the image of each farmer is their name, adding further opportunity to form an emotional connection with consumers.
“The main part of the project is a dialogue with a customer,” says a Biji spokesperson in an article for The Dieline. “Each bag depicts a picturesque portrait of a man or woman who has grown the coffee with their own hands.”
In addition to design, specialty coffee roasters can also include QR codes that allow customers to find out more information at a time that suits them. QR codes are square barcodes that can be scanned with smartphones to direct the users to landing pages, apps, and social media accounts.
QR codes have been used by roasters for a number of years as a way of improving traceability in the coffee supply chain. For example, 1850 Coffee includes QR codes on their coffee bags that direct customers to Thank My Farmer, a website where consumers can connect with the people who produce their coffee, learn about initiatives, and make donations.
Coffee packaging is often the first contact a consumer has with a product. For that reason it needs to not only protect the coffee inside, but also stand out from the competition and connect with those who buy it.
As the market for specialty coffee grows, using coffee packaging to depict origin is a highly effective way of both attracting attention and creating an emotional tie with consumers. It fosters an appreciation for all the work that goes into producing a bag of coffee, while encouraging customers to broaden their knowledge of the journey from seed to cup.
At MTPak Coffee, we offer a range of sustainable coffee packaging for specialty roasters. Whether using kraft paper, PLA, or LDPE, all our coffee pouches can be customised to portray the origin of your coffee, while preserving its freshness and ensuring it arrives at the consumer in the best possible condition.