Seattles Best Coffee, a subsidiary of Starbucks, has released a new packaging system for their coffee. A system of levels was created to allow customers to define themselves—and their taste preference—with a simple number. This numerical system is apparently the first of it’s kind in the industry and is designed to help customers navigate through the overwhelming selections of a grocery store coffee aisle.
The packaging itself is quite beautiful. In fact, everything I’ve seen since their rebrand is of an extremely high caliber, thanks to the talented people at Creature. Back in May, when I wrote about the new Seattles Best identity, I felt like the only person on the planet who wasn’t comparing it to “the local blood bank.” Honestly, how often do people visit their local blood bank? The Apple logo doesn’t remind me of the grocery store, nor does the Nike logo remind me of a checklist. In time, I’m sure people will equate the big red uvula exposing smile, with a drop of coffee in a happy mouth.
The numbers of the system (1-5) represent the roast level, beginning with 1, “mild, light, crisp” up through 5, “bold, dark, intense.” Neither of which descriptions actually say anything about the flavor of the coffee. I participated in a Live Facebook chat with Seattles Best reps last week to try and get some more specifics. However, the best I could get—after first just repeating what was on the bag—was that “Level 2 will have more acidity and less body.” It’s sad that the complexities of a coffee’s flavor profile have been simplified to improve convenience, not understanding.
The once modest brand, existing mainly in Border’s bookstores, has expanded rapidly after recently securing deals to provide coffee at 300 AMC movie theaters, 20,000 Subway and 7,500 Burger King restaurants. The new market strategy will make the brand visible to a very large audience, very quickly.
The new Seattles Best website is also quite innovative compared with other major coffee companies—actually when compared to major companies in general. It’s very design centric, using refined typography and clean illustration to create a vibrant environment that is a joy to explore. It may be on of my favorite corporate websites of all time. It actually outshines the rest of the brand in some ways.
Clicking on one box will walk you through the process of the new level system, while clicking on another will take you to a stunning interactive photo essay of their “10-Day coffee break,” where 1000 coffees were shared with strangers in Canada. Don’t miss the video of Pete the chainsaw wizard!
While I’m a sucker for a strong brand, the company has to back up their image with a product of equal quality. Since my sample is still in the mail, I won’t comment on the quality of their new blends just yet. However, based on past experience I hope the new look is more than just that—because it would be a beautiful waste.
I’ll leave you with one last promotion that made me smile, the Big Red Fridge. Enjoy.
I first discovered One Village Coffee in late June and posted about their fantastic new packaging, but I hadn’t be able to try their coffee because of my travel schedule. The guys from One Village finally caught up with me and sent a spread of their coffees to sample.
One Village Coffee (OVC) is a Certified B Corporation, which means they’ve been certified to not only consider monetary stakeholders, but also societal stakeholders (eg. communities, environment, and employees). This is a fairly new distinction, but an honorable step to take for any business. The coffee is sourced through direct relationships with farmers and OVC is actively involved with community projects at origin in Nigeria and Honduras. Great company, great design, now let’s get to the coffee!
— Organic Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Light Roast
Aroma: Very herbal while presenting itself with a brisk and cool aura, a burst of sweet mint with chocolate undertones and a hint of cinnamon toast create an invigorating first impression.
Taste: The cup is mellow and full with very little brightness. The herbal minty aromas have transformed into into an earthy basil. Smooth, but with a dry mouthfeel more reminiscent of Indonesians that hint of leather and tobacco. The finish lands with a peppery kick that lingers on the tongue as a surprising, but pleasant conclusion.
Overall, this Ethiopian really shined. Although it’s different than others I’ve had in the past, I enjoyed the unique characteristics of it. I may be a purist, but when I was introduced to single origin coffee, my love for coffee truly began. I appreciate and enjoy the integrity of a bean’s natural flavor more than the attempts to craft a specific taste. It’s like playing with nature. Blends are the GMOs of the coffee world.
— Artist Blend Medium Dark Roast
Aroma: Caramel and deceptively sweet hints of vanilla bean roll out of the cup through a forest of old growth wood ravaged by a california wild fire.
Taste: The sweet but tart characteristics of Lemonhead candies are sadly muted by the smokey taste of an old campfire blanket. The carbon fog lifts towards the finish, ending on a brighter note, reminding you of what could have been.
While I wouldn’t buy the Artist Blend myself, I’m aware that some people really enjoy the smokiness of darker coffees. But the slight glimmering beans and the hollow use of “Bold” as a descriptor on the bag, evokes Starbucks Pike Place. I can tell there are some underlying flavors that would really shine in a lighter roast.
— Nordico Espresso Medium Roast
Aroma: Sweet and seductive, full of brown sugar scents and notes of mixed nuts. All of the goodies you’d put in a bowl of oatmeal, compacted into a 2oz shot.
Taste: Very smooth with a subtle and approachable brightness. The essence of almond and chocolate are most prominent with a touch of apricot. A well-rounded espresso for beginners with a finish that lingers comfortably after the goods are gone.
I’ve been drinking a lot of single origin shots recently, which tend to be very bright and acidic. I enjoy it, but it’s definitely too intense for many people, especially those drinking shots for their first time. OVC’s Nordico Espresso is really smooth and balanced, a nice way to introduce someone to espresso without completely shocking their senses.
One year ago, this website began with a single post that read, “You, me, and a pot of coffee. We will change the world.” Since that inaugural post, there have been 174 more of them, all of which are meant to inspire, educate, and make you smile. The goal here at DCILY, is to help strengthen your relationship with quality coffee, so that it continues to inspire you and fuel the innovative and hard working among us all. As the third most popular beverage in the world, a lot of life happens around coffee and a lot of great ideas have developed over a cup of it—here’s to many more cups (and ideas) to come!
Really cool infographic, designed by David McCandless. The matrix helps compare a variety of drinks based on their calorie and caffeine content. The drinks closer to the top have more calories, while the drinks further to the right contain more caffeine. An iced coffee seems to be the most jolt with the least guilt for those who are counting calories.