We’d like to formally introduce you to a new member of the familia: our new bags!
Starting today, our full line of coffee will be delivered in newly-redesigned bags made of biodegradable material called Biotrē. From the front, our new bags look very similar to the previous, but every other panel of the bags continue to tell the Nossa story from different angles. Each side represents a step of the supply chain we are involved in, and the things that matter most to us: family-traded & relationship-driven coffee, our sustainable roasting operation, and expert brewing & service.
These bags are the product of a long, in-house redesign project. We wanted to make a bag that fills us with pride, that shows our B Corp Certification, that uses more sustainable materials, that is sealable in order to protect food safety and freshness, and that better communicates who we are and what matters most to us.
The Evolution of Nossa Familia Coffee's Packaging
Nossa Familia has gone through many phases as a company, from our founder Augusto Carneiro’s small start in the beginning, to where we are today. It has also gone through many aesthetic and design changes when it comes to logo and packaging. The original packaging aesthetic was dark black and browns, with rustic lettering, artistic woodblock design features and black-and-white family photos. A few years ago, we went through a pretty dramatic re-branding, and worked with local creative agency Caffelli to create a new logo, color palate, and bags. We switched from dark black and browns to a bright white and red, with a clean, block-lettered logo. It was a big change for both our internal team and wholesale and retail customers. In that process, our packaging shifted drastically and was nearly unrecognizable from its previous form.
As primarily a wholesale coffee company, supplying coffee to restaurants, cafes, and grocery stores, we have many different styles and sizes of coffee bags in our line. We sell in 12oz, 2lb, and 5lb increments, and we ship coffee around the country and self-distribute around Portland. We are also a Certified B Corporation, which means that as a company we have decided to focus on the Triple Bottom Line - People, Planet, Profit. These factors have a great influence on our packaging - because we have to deliver and excellent product, keep it fresh, put it in a beautiful package that ships well and also communicates the story of our company.
About our Packaging Redesign Process
We decided to update our packaging a bit over a year ago. After the rebranding in 2014, the outcome of the process was a glossy white paper bag with red sides and our logo on the front, with space for the labels of our different coffee roasts. It was a simple and elegant design, and bold when compared to our previous bag design. It was a huge change, and we we immediately saw an uptick in sales. We think the new bags really popped off the shelves better than the previous ones, and made people want to pick it up and learn more. After a couple years, we realized we needed to communicate even more who we are as a company - our history, values, what makes us tick, and a few key changes we've gone through - through the text and images on the bag. We also started to get more questions about "how do I brew this coffee?," and wanted to include more information about our brewing recipes and ratios.
In 2016, we went through the rigorous B Corp Certification process, became certified, and needed to put this new and very important fact about our company somewhere on our packaging. There are new food safety guidelines coming out that necessitated having a sealed bag at the grocery store, and the paper bags are not able to be sealed. All of these factors came together and compelled us to begin the bag redesign process with these points in mind. However, having just gone through a dramatic rebranding in the past three years, we didn’t want to shock our customers again with an extremely different bag. So we decided to work within the parameters of keeping the front of the bag essentially the same - so it’s still recognizable as ours on the grocery store shelf - and make other changes around the sides to convey our message.
Each panel of the bag incorporates artistic elements and hand drawings by our own Graphic Designer, Phoebe Low. These drawings carry the theme of the human touch throughout the package, letting you know that this isn't a faceless or nameless bag of coffee - there are real people behind it, and it has gone through many hands and processes to get to the point of sitting on a grocery store shelf or the package waiting on your doorstep. The bag tells the story of our sustainability journey and B Corp Certification, the history and values of the company, and gives some tips on how to brew.
Sustainability in our Coffee Packaging
One of our company's core tenets is to make decisions, take actions, and create products in a way that minimizes the negative impact on the environment. We strive to do so even when it's more difficult, more expensive, and more time-consuming, because it's the right thing to do. Unfortunately, the coffee industry is inherently very wasteful - from single-use paper to-go cups, to thick and non-recyclable coffee bag material, to barista competitions where dairy products are used to make beautiful lattes and then poured down the drain. Our work is to not take all of these things as necessary facts, but to think of ways we can question them and improve on them. This led us down the road of thinking very long and hard about our packaging.
We found a great partner in Pacific Bag, Inc., a Pacific Northwest-based company that has been working on more sustainable packaging options, including a material called Biotre. It is made from renewable materials and is compostable in a home setting. We recognize that Biotre - and 'compostable' or 'biodegradable' materials in general - are far from perfect. Often these products can lead to greenwashing and putting a false facade on otherwise wasteful practices. In the end, we chose a product made from renewable wood pulp with a polyethylene lining. We decided to support a company that is pouring their corporate energy and resources into creative more sustainable packaging. We wanted to do our part in choosing a greener disposable option, but actively encourage our customers whenever possible to recycle and reuse materials, such as bringing their own cup for coffee drinks or a reusable container we can fill with coffee beans. We're happy to be including features in our new cafes that will make this part easier: particularly a bulk bin section at our new SE 3rd & Clay cafe in Portland.
We hope you’ll pick up a bag of coffee soon online, at our retail shops, or at a grocery store, and let us know what you think!