“What's smaller than a micro-roasters?” asks Others Coffee co-founder Brian Raupp. And while the answer to that is probably simple—it's a nano-roastery—for Raupp and Ashley May of Others, the question is more philosophical in nature and belies a deeper resonance. We cover companies large and small here on Sprudge, and revel in those differences, but this is about as small of an operation as it gets, a humble two-person owner-founder-partner sort of situation, run by a duo who happened to also be life partners (engaged to be married, in fact) roasting inside of a hybrid music venue cafe situation.
They're both from the Baltimore area and bonded over a shared love of coffee. The name of their company, they told Baltimore Magazine, is a reference to how many hands touch an individual cup of coffee, and the drink's implied interdependence on others to make the journey from seed to cup. “In the best scenario, it’s always handled by people who really have good intentions, love, and want for inclusion in coffee culture,” May told the mag. “That’s us at Others.”
We just had to know more, so we sat down digitally with Others to learn about their design, upcoming coffee releases, and much more. Read on.
Tell us about Others Coffee! When did y'all get started? Where are you based? How big is your team?
What's smaller than a micro-roastery? Whatever that is, that's what we are lol. Others Coffee is a two-person team that consists of myself (Brian) and my fiance, Ashley. We opened our digital doors to the e-commerce world on National Coffee Day, 9/29/2020. We are currently roasting inside of a renown local music venue called Songbyrd Music House & Record Cafe in Washington D.C.
Your current offering is from the Gasharu Coffee Company in Rwanda—and it has ties to Baltimore. Tell us about it!
We first purchased the coffee from Keffa Coffee—a green importer based in Baltimore—after sample roasting and cupping. We loved the notes and decided to make it our second offering after our introductory Yirgacheffe. One of the things we love about Keffa is that they frequently have very in-depth information about their sourcing. So, while reading about Gasharu via Keffa, we found that the brother of Gasharu's owner works in public health at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. The discovery, to us, was one of those “wow, what a small world” moments.
We love the product and package design. Who designed it?
Thank you so much! The design process is really a collaborative effort between the two of us. I, Brian, do a majority of the design work using Adobe Illustrator while Ashley provides constructive criticism and feedback.
Tell us a bit about the design choices—the box, the logo, the colors.
We decided on a box for our packaging because we feel strongly that coffee bags are kind of boring. No offense, bags are vastly more economical and make a lot of sense in so many ways but they don't always do much to elevate the coffee itself. To us, coffee, and the experience we have with it, is so much more than just opening the bag and tasting the coffee. The experience begins earlier, when you first see the box, when you first pick it up and spin it around in your hands.
Think about how Apple revolutionized packaging with their products. They told their customers how much they cared for their laptops and phones not by saying it verbally but with the attention and detail they put into designing the boxes those products came in. That's how we approach our boxes. Our boxes say “hey, if you like the way this looks, imagine the way it tastes.”
The logo is my favorite part of the box to be honest because it was one of those “aha” moments. Ashley, on top of being a badass coffee gal, is also an illustrator and painter. One night, I was looking at one of her pieces that had been hanging on the wall for the better part of a year and it was this girl with mismatched eyes—one eye flipped up and one eye flipped down and that's when it hit me, that was it. I opened up Illustrator and within minutes I designed what has become our logo.
The colors for our boxes are derived from a random photo that we found on Pinterest and fell in love with. There was something about the two colors that caught our eye so when I was designing the logo I incorporated the colors in. Now that we've put this out there, we should offer some type of prize or something to the person that can find the photo that we sourced the colors from.
Your coffee is available online—any plans to take it offline?
Absolutely! We already have our coffee in three retail stores in D.C. We love the ease and accessibility of e-commerce but we'd really like to develop a physical presence. Our goal, hopefully sooner than later, is to have our own cafe/roastery location in the city.
Do you have any new coffee offerings lined up?
This is BREAKING NEWS! Our next coffee will be from Peru. The accompanying box will be a small departure from our previous designs as we usher in a new initiative that focuses on increasing our sustainability as a company.
Zachary Carlsen is a co-founder and editor at Sprudge Media Network. Read more Zachary Carlsen on Sprudge.
Explore six years of Coffee Design archives at our exclusive Coffee Design hub.