This week on Coffee Design, we're featuring Junto Coffee out of Taylors, South Carolina. Alex Medina founded the company in 2019 and for Junto's packaging worked with designer SG Kivett to create a coffee bag influenced by the “clean minimal aesthetic” of European roasters. We spoke with Alex Medina to learn more.
Tell us a bit about Junto Coffee!
We're a cafe and roastery founded by myself, Alex Medina, in February of 2019 with the goal of bringing together people of vastly different origins and creeds. Hence the name Junto, which means “together” in Spanish and also, “joined together for a common purpose” in English. Another reason for choosing a name that's bilingual is because of my parents, who are both Colombian and speak little to no English, so I wanted a name that they could actually pronounce as well as the multitude of Spanish-speaking producers that we work with. Speaking of producers, we love to work with many different producers to try to represent and showcase all the hard work of the farmers. I worked a couple of years at a coffee importer, where I learned the importance of working with many different importers and exporters and to connect more closely with smaller farms that may not have the exposure of some of the bigger more well-known farms.
Who designed your packaging and branding?
So our initial packaging and branding was created by SG Kivett, a friend and local graphic designer now turned vegetable and flower farmer. After a year or so we transitioned to our current packaging and branding with the help of our friend Wellington Payne of Shed Labs. A long tenant of the Taylors Mill that we currently occupy. Our final bag design was heavily influenced by the clean minimal aesthetic commonly found on more European roaster's bags. We also took design elements from our first bag iteration into our final design, as we also wanted to have playful but subtle shapes found throughout.
Your coffee packaging, your merch, social media—even chocolate has a unique style—tell us about the look and feel.
So the way we approach our packaging is the same way we approach our social media and some of our merch. Simple and minimal but also playful. One of our talented barista, Tara Ashton, has her own branding company so she handles most of our product shots and social media photos. With her help and input we've been able to hone our aesthetic and image we like to portray on social media. For our other merch and design, we've worked with a number of different designers and artist because we love supporting not only our local artist that live in the Upstate but also folx from other parts of the US. We've worked with EF.IT Designs for our paper cups and chocolate bar label, Defender Creative Studio for our hoodie design, and lastly, Adam Du Shole for a new t-shirt design we'll be releasing soon.
Tell us more about the Black Label Series coffees.
For our Black Label Series, we wanted to give the sense of rarity and uniqueness for the coffees that we choose. Be it a more experimental processing technique or some really unique variety, we wanted the coffee's features as Black Label to be special to not only to the customers but also the farmer that made it, because we know how sometimes this experimental processing can be a huge risk if it doesn't turn out well.
What coffees are you excited about here in the summer of 2021?
We have a fun experimental coffee that just arrived at our roastery that was one of our first experimental coffees that we ever offered back in early 2020. It's a unique process called Frozen Cherry, which involves freezing the coffee cherries in industrial freezers normally used for fruit export to halt fermentation after the coffee has fermented for 400 hours and helps prevent any over-fermentation. This also helps produce some unique qualities in the coffee that folks will have to try for themselves. We also have a few other coffees that we're looking forward to getting so everyone will have to be on the lookout for those.
How should we spend a perfect day in Taylors, SC?
We just recently had an arcade bar, Pinky's Revenge, open up inside the Taylors Mill where we are located and that's basically where we're spending most of our time lately. Other than that the Taylors Mill is home to 13 Stripes Brewery, a rage room, an ax-throwing place, multiple artist studios, and plenty of picturesque areas for the perfect photo. That to us is the perfect way to spend a day in Taylors that's all within walking distance.
Photos by Tara Ashton courtesy Junto Coffee.