When I first got into specialty coffee, I saved every retail bag I purchased. My goal back in those halcyon days was to eventually catalog them all, taking down notes about origin, flavor, my general enjoyment of the coffee, etc. I was gonna crack this whole fancy coffee nut through diligent study. Well, I never did catalog them, but that didn’t stop me from continuing to save every bag, which I convinced myself I would turn into an art project. That art project also never happened. What did happen about a year ago, though, is that I finally gave in and threw away over 400 coffee bags.
Even with my admission of lacking the gumption and requisite artistic skill to save those bags from their ultimate fate, it would have been nice if there was a way for SOMEONE to find a use for them. To combat this with their own bags, Wilmington, Delaware’s Brandywine Coffee Roasters has created a brand new rewards program. Called the Brandywine Upcycled Rewards Program (BURP), the coffee company is offering discounts on future orders for returned bags, which will then be given to local artists to use in their work.
The program is simple: the more bags you return, the better the reward you receive. Send in five bags and receive a free six-ounce bag of BURP-exclusive coffee. 10 bags earns you the same coffee plus a BURP sticker and pin. 20 bag earns you the coffee as well as 10% off your next coffee order.
BURP is also available to Brandywine customers outside Delaware. Per the coffee company’s website, to receive your rewards, “send your mailing address, number of bags to upcycle, and past order number to firstname.lastname@example.org to get your free return shipping label, and let the upcycling rewards roll in!”
The collected bags will then be given to artists “who used upcycled materials to make magic.” The first two artists selected are Todd Purse—Brandywine’s Creative Director who also designed the company’s bags, featured here—and Clara Logue, who will be making collages on wooden canvases and coffee bag pouches, respectively. Those items will then be sold in Brandywine’s web store, and the artists are taking direct commissions for their upcycled works as well.
In the future, Brandywine states they will be switching to a new version of the Biotre bags from Pacific Bags. In the meantime, Burp provides a creative solution to curbing the number of bags that make it to a landfill. For more information about the Brandywine Upcycle Rewards Program or to buy or commission a custom upcycled work, visit Brandywine’s official website.
Top image via Brandywine Coffee Roasters