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Post Revisit: A Snapshot of Specialty Coffee Packaging

Its always good practice (and fun!) to take a look back and reread what we’ve written about during the life of our little blog. We recently revisited a post from August 2013 titled “A Snapshot of Specialty Coffee Packaging” (click here to read.)

The post focused on coffee packaging — where we’ve been, where we are presently, and where we predicted we were going. While it was good to revisit the whole post, we’d like to focus on that last bit — the part where we predicted where we felt the specialty coffee packaging was moving towards. Below is the actual snippet from our post:

“We believe the future of specialty coffee packaging will move away from the simple, clean, industrial look for a more expressive style that really shows the personality of the brand. We think customers don’t need to see another kraft bag to denote quality and an expressive bag will also do a better job telling the story, something that is resonating more and more with shoppers nowadays .”

The reason we revisited this post is because we’re seeing a lot of examples of the very thing we were predicting (which is very exciting) which means we might know a little bit about what we do!

Two great examples of what we predicted coming to life are Starbucks special Tribute Blend packaging and Brewklyn Grind Coffee Roasters rebrand and packaging. Both hit home the thought we put forth about “moving away from clean, simple industrial look” and move towards “a more expressive style.” We even had conversations about how cool coffee packaging would be with fine art prints on the label- something Brewklyn pulled of nicely. 

Image via The Dieline

Image via The Dieline

Starbucks Tribute Blend

As you can see in the Starbucks packaging they are getting really conceptual with this design. Take a look at that bag. It’s just designs and elements with this beautiful painterly circle as the focal point. The asymmetrical design is very eye catching and grabs your attention on shelf. There’s no denying the contents are something special and unique. 

Starbucks is no stranger to expressive packaging and is one of the few specialty coffee companies whose packaging moved away from the kraft coffee bag look long ago — but the Tribute Blend feels new and fresh. We feel like it really embodies the vision we laid out back in August.

Image via The Dieline

Image via The Dieline

Brewklyn Grind Coffee Roasters

Brewklyn Grind has really embraced expressive fine art for their new packaging and redesign. What’s really neat about Brewklyn Grind is they are collaborating with local Brooklyn artists to help create the art for their packaging. It’s not just some random digital design they’re using. We find this to truly embody “artisan” and take it to a whole new level. Why not make each bag a little work of art? Those who appreciate fine coffee are usually the same people who appreciate fine art. 


So there you have it. We’re very interested to see how this trend will play out in the coffee packaging landscape over the next year or so. Who knows- we might have to revisit this post!

#buttermilkinboston – Day 3

#buttermilkinboston is a daily recap of our experiences at the HOW Live Design Conference in Boston. Follow the hashtag on our Twitter and Instagram accounts to keep up with all the excitement. Click here to read our Day 1 Recap and here for Day 2.

The conference is flying by. We are a little sad as we come to realize we will only be here for one more day. Today was another great day full of inspiration, meeting awesome new people and seeing a few of our trusty favorites. We started the morning off with an absolutely incredible session by Trina Bentley from Make and Matter. We’ve been adoring fans of Trina’s work for the past year or so when we first discovered her blog. This session was at the top of our “not to miss” list! We were front row as she shared her experiences in designing her own personal design aesthetic. She walked us through her processes and showed us some techniques. I can probably speak for the whole audience when I say that her candidness and willingness to share was appreciated and helpful.  Her talent is such an inspiration, it’s hard to believe she’s a one-woman operation.

Trina had some great quotes she shared but our favorite was:

“Dreams don’t work unless you do”

package design by Trina Bentley

package design by Trina Bentley

Right after Trina’s session was Dan Pink’s general session. This was another major heavy hitter that we were really looking forward to. Pink discussed the fact that, whether we like it or not, we are all in “sales.” Just accept that. And he discussed ways to navigate this new found role we’re in. He redefined the age old adage “A = Always, B = Be, C = Closing” to “A = Attunement, B = Buoyancy, C = Clarity.” We learned that “ambiverts” are the best sellers out there and the good news is most of us are exactly that. He also brought up a very interesting study that said to add a tiny, insignificant negative with all the positives and folks gravitate to that more than just a list of positives, Very interesting stuff. Oh and Alex won Dan Pinks book so when we get back in town its going straight onto the bookshelf.

Our dinner spot tonight was a cozy little bohemian jazz club called The Beehive. It was perfect. Our drinks were well crafted, the food was phenomenal and the atmosphere was lively. There was a live jazz band playing on a stage in the midst of dining tables, eclectic chandeliers and rustic tapestries. Everywhere you turned, there was art to be enjoyed. Our dining companion tonight was Tim Cox, Director of Creative Strategy at Publix. It’s become an annual tradition of ours to catch up with him during the HOW conference and the conversation was a pleasure as always!

The check holder at The Beehive. Amazing!

The check holder at The Beehive. Amazing!

We have one more day at the conference and it looks to be another packed day of great sessions. 

We’ll be posting one more day of recaps- keep an eye out for our Day 4 post tomorrow.

#buttermilkinboston – Day 2

#buttermilkinboston is a daily recap of our experiences at the HOW Live Design Conference in Boston. Follow the hashtag on our Twitter and Instagram accounts to keep up with all the excitement. Click here to read our Day 1 Recap.

We’re putting day 2 behind us and it was a blast and a blur! What an amazing day. We presented our session at The Dieline Conference, got interviewed by Package Design Magazine, and attended some great sessions at HOW Design Live.

We started the day off at an amazing little coffee shop called The Thinking Cup. We just found it wandering down Newbury St. on the way to the Hynes. We were able to grab a great breakfast that filled us up and sustained us for our presentation at 10:15. Highly recommended if you find yourself needing a good cup of coffee and a tasty breakfast pastry while in Boston. 

Our breakfast from The Thinking Cup

Our breakfast from The Thinking Cup

Then it was off to present our session “Oops I became a Package Designer” at The Dieline Conference. We were the opening session so our stomachs were in knots until we took the stage. Based on the packed house til the end of our talk and the lively Q and A we really felt like we resonated with the audience. It was great to hear from everyone and check out the lively discussion afterwards on Twitter and Instagram. But we sure are glad we’ve got that behind us so we can focus on the rest of the conference.

The crowd! Such a great group of folks!

The crowd! Such a great group of folks!

One of the most well received slides we presented was our “Discovery Brief”. Basically this is a form we created to use at the beginning of a project. We customized it for our projects to help keep us on track with asking the right questions and to really experience the product before we start designing (we insist on tasting everything before we design for it). We shared the file with The Dieline, so feel free to download a copy of it here and customize it for your own use!

Our Discovery Brief

Our Discovery Brief

After our interview with Package Design Magazine we headed back to the conference to attend Peleg Top‘s session about Marketing Strategies for Attracting Your Ideal Clients. This great session got us thinking about how best to market ourselves to the right audience. Peleg Top shared his calendar which his firm sent out every month for 14 years as a promo piece as an example of creating something that keeps you in the forefront of your current and potential clients minds. Definitely got us thinking about our upcoming promo piece and how to make it into a series we send out every couple months instead of a one off piece. 

The next and last session of the day we attended was from John Nunziato of Little Big Brands about 35 points to think about when starting a design firm. Some points resonated with us more than others but it was still neat to get some insight into the history of LBB and know that he was at one point working out of a tiny room in his house- something we know all about! Some of the other standouts from his presentation were:

  • Institute a “No Asshole” rule. There’s too many beautiful people and things in the world to worry about these types of people.
  • Respect yourself! Don’t do spec work!
  • If its not a show, its not a go! 

Listening to John’s talk got us daydreaming about what and where Buttermilk will go in the near future. Very exciting stuff.

John Nunziato presenting.

John Nunziato presenting.

We wrapped up day 2 with an AMAZING meal at Island Creek Oyster Bar (first destination we can check off from this wish list) We had the pleasure of dining with our friends from Theory House and My Private Brand — it’s always such a great time geeking out with other fellow creatives!

Insane raw platter from Island Creek Oyster Bar!

Insane raw platter from Island Creek Oyster Bar!

So that closes our Day 2 recap. We’ve got a couple more days of insight and inspiration and can’t wait to see what else we learn.

Keep an eye out for our Day 3 recap tomorrow!