Caffe Luxxe has been serving up coffee in Los Angeles, California since 2006. Inspired by Italian coffee culture, the team aimed to create timeless and classic branding. We caught up with co-founder Gary Chao digitally to talk about their product and brand design—and the company’s adorable mascot Ollie.
Before we talk about packaging and design, can we first talk about your beautiful dog. Tell us about the Samoyed we see and admire on Caffe Luxxe’s Instagram.
Thank you for noticing Ollie! He is our Caffe Luxxe mascot, and he often travels with me to and from the caffes and roastery. He loves hanging out front to greet our coffee friends while I’m inside working. I’ve always loved the Samoyed breed because of their friendly and floofy nature, and in fact, Ollie’s uncle was named Sammy, who was our original mascot from the beginning when we opened our first caffe over 15 years ago.
We also have a photo of Ollie at all of our caffes on our bars. This is simply to help break the ice and spark a conversation with new customers who may be visiting for the first time: “What’s up with the dog picture, is it real?” and also a friendly reminder to people that oftentimes it’s the simple things in life that can put a smile on your face. He is as much of a Caffe Luxxe family member as are our baristi.
By the way, you can also follow Ollie on Instagram at @olliecaffeluxxe if you somehow don’t get enough of him on our regular channel.
Tell us about your packaging—when did it debut?
We introduced our packaging when we started roasting coffee at the very beginning. It actually hasn’t changed much, as our philosophy was to always stay classic and timeless in everything that we do.
We wanted to accomplish a few objectives:
- Create a color palette that represents the Italian caffe lifestyle that we admire
- Create a color code to help customers begin to identify regionality for our single origin offers
So with respect to our color palette, utilizing our Italian inspiration, we chose similar colors of traditional Italian pottery and ceramics as our family of hues and saturations; all lead by our signature brand color we call “Italian sunshine yellow.” Espresso and Italy are very fond memories for Mark (my best friend and business partner) and I, traveling from caffe to caffe in city after city throughout Italy. One of my personal favorite spots in the entire world is Positano on the Amalfi Coast. There is a magical energy there with the sun shimmering on the sea, and the yellow we chose to be one of our lead brand colors reminds me of the color of the sun in Positano which makes me really happy every time I see it. So we wanted to share this happy color with as many people as possible.
Who designed it?
We worked with one of our baristas back in the day named Martina D’Alessandro who also happens to be a graphic designer and illustrator. Since she lived and breathed our caffe lifestyle as a barista, who better to understand and help us design our coffee bags with her direct emotional connection to Caffe Luxxe?
Tell us about the colors chosen for the bags and the different coffee offerings.
When we began exploring coffee packaging, we believed that color would help customers identify the various coffee regions and choose a coffee quickly when they came to buy more coffee. However, we soon realized that there wasn’t a unified industry color code to represent countries of origin, so we made one up for ourselves which we have been consistently supporting from the beginning. It seems to be working, as we sometimes get phone calls at the roastery asking for a certain coffee and the first descriptor from the customer is the color of the label, “It’s the one with the orange label!” Thus, our soft bluish-sage green color represents the lush forests of Latin America, the pastel reddish brick color represents the grounded earthiness of Africa and the original home of coffee, and the dark brownish-orange color represents the tropical warmth for our coffees from South East Asia (Primarily Indonesia).
Where is your coffee available?
They are available at our seven caffes, and at our restaurant, cafe, hotel, and office partners. For the only retail channel we’re in, we’re at a place called Erewhon which is a local Los Angeles-based market that aligns with our business philosophy for sustainability by focusing on healthy foods balanced with a purpose for the environment.
What’s next for Caffe Luxxe?
We’re super interested in innovation, but we only want to create products that have a genuine connection to what we do with our coffee as a core foundation. So recently we introduced a coffee kombucha which is made in small batches exclusively by us in our own facility. Although kombucha is traditionally made with tea, we were curious if we could create it with our coffee and what it would taste like. After numerous taste tests and practicing the science and craft of kombucha, we finally arrived at a recipe that we loved which is trademarked as the Original Coffee Kombucha since there’s nothing else in the market like it. It’s the combination of healthy probiotics with energizing Caffe Luxxe coffee, all produced with only 3 natural ingredients; our coffee flavor is able to shine through in a balanced manner vs. tea-based kombucha which, in our opinion, only tastes like the added flavors and not the tea.
Check out all of the Caffe Luxxe offerings at their official website.