Getting creative with caffeine

We are in the midst of what’s been dubbed the “third wave” of coffee culture. After the second wave, where mass proliferation led to the growth of the mainstream coffee industry, this latest generation moves beyond the early Starbucks model, where ‘single-origin’ was about as artisan as a roast got. These days, it’s about specific suppliers, unique bean characteristics, and cleanly differentiated tasting notes.

More specialised methods of brewing and making coffee have also become the norm, with cold-brew, pour-over and vacuum coffee now available from any number of cafes. Our taste for the classic espresso plus milk range of offerings has also become more nuanced, with the nation buying around 200 million flat whites in 2018, according to this BBC report.

As the third wave sees this more considered approach to coffee spread, the marketplace has become more crowded – coffee shops are even, according to another BBC news piece, predicted to outnumber pubs by 2030. Standing out in this landscape is harder than ever, but here are some of the London roasters setting an example of how to get it right.

It’s all about quality

Whether you’re just starting out or looking to grow your independent coffee business, chances are you’re excited about a quality product – so why wouldn’t you want your branding to convey that? Take the logo for ICON client Allpress, for example – their typeface is a subtle nod to the iconic branding of Ialian brand La Marzocco, who make some of the world’s best espresso machines. By encouraging this subconscious association between their brand and Italy’s celebrated coffee culture, Allpress are broadcasting quality before you even enter the store.

Think about packaging

Carefully crafting the package your customers receive your coffee in is almost as vital as working on the product itself. Think about how your design will feature in your packaging, and about creative ways in which you can include it, but never forget that function needs to be perfected before you think about form. Square Mile Coffee Roasters sell their beans and blends in a triple-ply, foil-lined bag which they also collect and recycle from their wholesalers.

This design ensures that the beans stay as fresh as possible, but also means that they can make the packaging black. This black design is in line with their clean branding, while helping make the bags stand out against the usual brown packaging. (For more on this, check our piece on the importance of product packaging.)

Leave room for customisation

A number of coffee roasters offer their customers the ability to create their own custom blend of beans, and having a brand identity that can easily be adapted makes this kind of product feel even more special. Caravan Coffee’s typographic focus allows them to easily create custom labels or packaging for things like Christmas presents or seasonal specials, all while keeping in line with the rest of their offerings. (For more on how to choose the perfect typeface, head here for our guide.)


Stand out from the competition

Creating a visual identity for a coffee brand that doesn’t blend in with the rest of the new young roasters out there can be hard, but thinking about what makes your vision unique will help you stand out. Cold brew experts Kuka Coffee went for a design that takes a coffee filter and breaks it down into an eye-catching graphic that is extremely simple but also instantly recognisable. Their ethos is all about brewing ‘clean caffeine’ and their unfussy logo and branding have an equally clean feel.

Monetise the lifestyle

If customers trust you for the best bean around, they will also trust you when it comes to the hardware needed to make their own coffee at home. Selling branded filter cones, aeropress, thermos and moka pots etc. means you will be part of people’s coffee journey even when they are at home or in the office. Thinking about how your branding will look beyond just cups, signs and uniforms means you will be easily able to expand and diversify when the business is ready.

Want to create merch for your coffee business? ICON Printing offer fast turnaround printing on a range of garments, counting clients in the coffee trade such as Allpress, Kuka and North Star, as well as clients ranging from WeWork to Boiler Room and the Tate. Get a quote in 2 minutes online.