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Beyond Branding - A Look at Our New Packaging

Over the past several months, we have been working on many, many things.

Daniel, our Programs Manager, has been working hard on training and supporting our apprentices and developing our program into a robust, thorough, and empowering step toward a more sustainable future for Seattle’s street-involved and at-risk young adults. Daniel takes it beyond the apprenticeship, partnering with employers, and following up with apprentices after their time with us.

Kaya, our Retail Manager, has been spearheading the opening of our new downtown location at 9th & Stewart, while maintaining our Belltown location. Right away, this new shop has proven to be a much-desired addition to the neighborhood, and we are so thankful to everyone that has made us part of their day.

Sean, our Director of Operations, has had his hands in, well... everything. Sean’s involvement in our day-to-day operations, our future, and the success of everyone involved, is unceasing and integral to Street Bean’s success in our mission.

David, our Wholesale & Production Manager, has been tirelessly creating a coffee program that accurately reflects what we do in our shops by sourcing coffees from small-holder farms, where they receive more sustainable prices for their produce - often 2-4x the abysmal price set by the larger Commodity Exchange, and 2-3.5x the price set by the Fair Trade standards.

We hope that our coffees reflect, in quality and flavor, what we’re about here at Street Bean - providing real tools to those facing real issues here in our city, so that they may gain and maintain forward momentum to achieve the things they are capable of. As such, we also wanted our packaging to reflect this mission. For over half a year, David and Sean, alongside our designer and Social Media Coordinator, James, have been working on a package redesign that succinctly and attractively communicates these values.

Our other goals for this packaging were to a) reduce packaging costs, b) reduce end consumer costs to make specialty coffee more accessible, c) use more eco-friendly materials, d) use higher-quality materials. We are excited to say that we achieved all of these key points. You’ll notice that our bags are now 225g (8 oz) instead of 300g (10.5 oz). This allows us to offer our coffees at a lower cost, and the smaller size helps to ensure that you can enjoy your full bag of coffee before it gets too old. These new bags are also commercially recyclable, unlike the majority of bags on the market that must be thrown away into the garbage. Simply bring or mail back the bag, and we'll send it in to our partner TerraCycle to be responsibly recycled.

We wanted to go into the design of this new bag a bit more, so we sat down with our designer (James) and our Wholesale & Production Manager (David):

SB: What do the design elements mean to you?

J: The Diagonal line in the middle of the Street Bean logo (S) is essentially my favorite keyboard symbol. No pun intended, but I see it as symbolic. Diagonal movement is one of the most beautiful things to look at. During the conceptualization process, our roaster (David Clark) presented the idea of a split colored bag with a line coming up from the corner. I was so on board. So that became the frame work, and it became the pathway of the bag, which then leads to the accented continuous pathway of the left side. Charcoal is also my favorite color, so I'm biased on the element of color in this design.

D: The first design element that came to mind for me when we first started visiting the idea of new packaging, was a split-colored bag. We looked at horizontal, vertical, and diagonal.

Diagonal just felt right. In this direction, it represents – to me – the uphill battle that many of us experience at some point in our lives, as well as the upward momentum that we strive to achieve. The charcoal color that James used feels natural. Grey is a neutral color, fluid in its applications. In this way, every situation in our lives is temporary and fluid, and can be changed.

When you first see the bag, your eye is immediately drawn to the colored label on the front that supplies the vital coffee information - producer’s name, varietals, processing method, origin, etc. This label sits right atop the diagonal line, which leads the eyes around the side of the bag, to the back where you find information about Street Bean’s mission.

On the inside of the bag, you’ll find a vibrant, bold yellow wallpaper. If we can utilize the brightness and boldness we have on the inside, then we can achieve big, bold things.

The material of the bag is familiar to the hand, natural and imperfect. Made of white Kraft paper, colors are not printed as perfect opaque blocks, but rather freckles of the white bag come through. Imperfection is one of the most beautiful concepts to me.

SB: How do these design elements relate to Street Bean and its mission?

J: Movement - that is what Street Bean is all about. The movement forward in life, with coffee as the catalyst.

D: Street Bean can be the bridge between life stages for our apprentices. With the coffee’s colored label slapped right between the opposing white and grey, it shows that we’re using coffee as a tool to build that bridge. That diagonal line illustrates the progress that apprentices experience with us. The yellow inside shows that we’re cultivating the individual’s existing strengths to attain brighter futures. The bag’s material and its imperfect color printing communicates that, because of our imperfections, we are beautiful. And, indeed, we should not attempt to hide these imperfections, but rather harness and embrace them.

SB: What do these elements communicate to the end consumer?

J: As the bag's design naturally causes a rotated view, it leads to our story on the back. Not only do I hope the consumer sees that we take coffee seriously, and that our roaster is doing incredible work, but that our pursuit is coffee and beyond.

D: I marvel at what James was able to do with this bag and the concepts. I think this package clearly communicates that Street Bean is serious about helping the roughly 1,500 young people that spend each night on the streets of Seattle, and that we’re serious about sourcing and roasting delicious coffee.

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