Ready, set, go:
The Portland-based coffee roaster Nossa Familia Coffee has recently launched a new bag design for their full line of coffee products. The new illustrations on the bag were created by graphic designer Phoebe Low, using Wacom Intuos Pro.
But what does it take to redesign a coffee bag?
The story behind the process is special in its own right: Established in 2004, Nossa Familia has put much effort into truly being a sustainable, family-oriented and democratic company, ordering coffee beans mostly from small family businesses and letting their staff have a say in most company decisions. In that vein, Nossa recently received a “B Corporation” certification by the nonprofit “B Lab” – the organization certifies for-profit companies that meet certain standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.
Its sustainable philosophy led the staff to also decide on a new, more environmentally friendly material for their bags: a biodegradable material called Biotre, which is made from wood pulp, with polyethylene lining. All of the material is compostable.
Show your sustainability
The new bags now also needed an updated design…however, Nossa had just recently already rebranded their product with Portland agency Caffelli – they had given it a sleek and modern new logo and a color palette, switching from dark black and browns.
The logo was changed from a rustic brown lettering to a bright white and red, with clean lines and icons of bean, leaf, and flame – signifying the steps of the coffee process.
The marketing team hoped to update the bag in the redesign process to communicate even more about the family story behind the coffee, a brewing recipe, and information about their new sustainability efforts and B Corp Certification.
Adding character to the bag
Phoebe has been with Nossa Familia for several years and knows the company inside out. The former Studio Art & Art History student from Vermont first started working at Nossa Familia in Portland, Oregon, as a barista. At one point she was asked to hand-paint signage for the espresso bar.
Next thing she knew, Phoebe was designing sandwich boards, working on some digital design and photography for Nossa. “And then – boom – I somehow managed to be a full-time in-house designer! It’s been a fun and exciting journey.”
Phoebe often creates or works on her drawings with Intuos Pro. “When I first got my tablet, I created simple illustrations of brewing devices”, she says. “From there, the illustrations just started to bleed into many different types of projects.” Today, the graphic designer runs social media outlets for the company, creates signs, menus, email campaigns, printed ads – and then, of course, she makes the new packaging design come to life.
A new brand identity in images
The first things for Phoebe to focus on were the coffee bag sticker labels. She kept them simple and clean: “The package has several fonts and seven colors. I didn’t want to overcomplicate things by adding even more design elements.”
Her next task was necessary due to a change of the bag itself: The old retail bags were folded, not sealed, whereas the new bags can be heat-sealed, in response to new food safety regulations. The challenge was to let the customers know – in a playful way – that they now had to cut open the bag instead of simply unfolding it.
Simple, yet unique design elements
Phoebe incorporated further, personal drawings to give the bag its new unique character: “We wanted to keep additional design elements fairly simple, so they would work seamlessly with our branding”, she explains. “I added color to the drawings very sparingly, and I’m in love with the off-registered look, as it feels humble, gives a human presence and a little personality.”
Finally, a modern coffee bag came to life that everyone on the team is proud of and that communicates the company story, using mostly color, fonts, and imagery.
The Nossa team put a lot of work into the new design, Phoebe feels, especially when considering it is “such a small and unassuming bag”. But it was well worth the effort, the graphic designer says: “There’s a lot of pressure to get the brand’s identity across without saying it in too many words. But who wants a bag totally covered in text?”
Some trivia about Nossa Familia Coffee
The company is a Portland, Oregon-based coffee roaster whose goal is to deliver exceptional specialty coffee through deeply-rooted relationships. It was founded on the notion of family (‘Nossa Familia’ means ‘our family’ in Portuguese) by Augusto Carneiro, who began the company importing beans from his family’s Brazilian coffee farms.
In 2004, Augusto first started having coffee FedEx-ed from his grandfather. Since then, the company has started sourcing coffee also from countries such as Guatemala, Nicaragua, Kenya or Rwanda. However, they still source mainly from family farmers and smallholder cooperatives.