Contributed by Shawn Katz of Montréal-based Fivethousand Fingers.
Collected Coffee is a new high-end subscription-based retailer located in New York City. In order to stand out in the increasingly crowded specialty coffee market, Collected made the bold choice of a curatorial approach that eschews the conventional mantra of consumer choice in favour of a guided exploration of a distinct bean and roast delivered fresh to subscribers’ doorsteps every month.
The company was in its pre-launch phase, and it was about to start entering into partnerships with specialty roasters when we were approached by founder Lynette Lee to create the branding and packaging.
The task here was to capture the novel quality of this monthly coffee subscription service, which prides itself on its diverse selections informed by the finest expertise. We needed to successfully target the sophisticated connoisseurs, while at the same time attracting the curious enthusiasts who are willing (and able) to invest more in their coffee ritual for a higher quality product and more holistic experience.
Behind the branding
We set out to create an intelligent and intriguing brand that would intuitively convey the team’s knowledge and care for the product, as well as their passion for the people who produce and enjoy it. Because of its subscription-based nature, we also considered the product as a fixture in customers’ homes, and sought to create a point of interest that would be kept visible on their counters.
Inspired by print publications, we settled on a design that was essentialist, restrained, and heavily focused on detail, but without being cold or aloof. That’s where the quirkier elements come in, which aim to balance out the other aesthetic components.
Illustrations we considered for the process section of the website
The final product
Each monthly package of coffee comes with a z-folded booklet featuring the backstory of the coffee’s origins, roaster, and process, as well as a recommended brewing method with detailed instructions. To underline the love and care at the heart of the Collected brand, a hand-signed “Thank you” card completes the ensemble, with both the cards and booklets printed on Crane’s Lettra 100% cotton paper, providing them with an extra soft and luxurious touch.
Clearly, this is a serious coffee brand with a strong dose of substance, and it was important to select a content-friendly text typeface that would be clear and readable, especially on screen. We therefore settled on the Calluna typeface, which fit equally well with our aesthetic and functional considerations.
For the coffee bags themselves, the biggest challenge was in achieving a high printing quality for relatively low-quantity recurring orders, and in a production geography that we weren’t previously familiar with. Through research, many tests, and collaboration with the client and printers, we ultimately settled on matte white thermoplastic polymer bags (polyethylene terephthalate and linear low-density polyethylene, to be precise), with the logo hot-stamped in matte blue.
Finally, in order to match the paper of the coffee bag labels to the fine vellum quality of the accompanying print material, we selected Strathmore Bright White Wove, and had them printed in small runs by a local printer, rather than by the usual in-house label printer.
Creating the world of Collected Coffee
In addition to the product, we designed a website that serves as the showcase for the Collected brand and the hub of their cultural and educational mission.
Developed as both a reference for aficionados and a window into the wider world of coffee culture, it houses detailed brew guides, the profiles of all coffee farms and roasters selected to date, and an online magazine containing interviews and features that shine a spotlight on the human stories behind your morning brew.
Where we had the most fun was in our collaboration with the talented photographer Cindy Boyce. Beginning with our initial brand process, we provided art direction and set design to create a world around the product.
We are excited to follow Collected on their adventures across the globe, and we’re delighted to be pursuing our work with them as they continue to refine their brand and offering.