This month, Portland Roasting Coffee has completely overhauled its packaging and website. But before we get into the design—let's address perhaps the biggest news here—Portland Roasting Coffee is now Portland Coffee Roasters. Changing a name two decades in is a bold step even if the change is rather subtle. We asked graphic designer Taylor Engel to tell us more about the decision to change those three words around.
“When Mark Stell started the company over 20 years ago, he wanted to use the name Portland Coffee Roasters, but it was already being used by another company,” explains Engel. “The name Portland Roasting Coffee is what we ended up using, but people always seemed to have trouble remembering our name correctly. When we began the refresh, we found that the name was now available, so we went for it. Portland Coffee Roasters rolls off the tongue easier and more accurately reflects who we want to talk about—the people we partner with to bring you your coffee.”
Tell us about Portland Coffee Roasters in 2019 – how many locations are there?
We have five cafes in total. Our flagship cafe is located 815 SE Oak St. on the corner of SE Sandy and Oak, right across the street from our roastery in Portland. We have a cafe at Pioneer Place, a downtown Portland shopping mall at 700 SW 5th Ave, where we’re located on the lower level at Roots Food District. And we have three locations at the Portland Airport (PDX): one in the North Lobby pre-security, one at the end of Terminal C, and one right past the North Concourse security between Terminal D and E.
What date the new coffee packaging debut?
Most of our new packaging is available online now and will begin rolling out in local grocery stores by mid-November. Once we have our local grocery partners covered, we will begin rolling out to regional and national grocers.
Who designed the package?
The packaging was designed in house by Amie LeeKing and our marketing department. The illustrations we feature on the packaging were a combined effort between our in-house Designer/Illustrator Taylor Engel and local artist Klay Arsenault.
Tell us about the big changes made in the design.
The new Portland Coffee Roasters logo has shifted from a thin and delicate serif font to a bold, playful handmade-looking font. “Portland” is featured in all capitals, front and center, celebrating the company’s history and local culture. The new packaging also features a warm, gold background with inviting illustrations that symbolize the global community the company serves. Hand-drawn doodles depict the people who create the coffee experience, from the coffee grower who carefully tends to the plants, to the roaster who meticulously roasts each batch, to the barista who expertly brews every cup.
What's the motivation behind the change?
Our decision to update our name from Portland Roasting Coffee to Portland Coffee Roasters was to put the emphasis back on the people we partner with to bring you your coffee. Our original packaging featuring coffee seedlings that never really stood out, and in thinking about our refresh, we felt it focused too much on the coffee and less on the people. We updated our packaging to be bright and youthful while telling the story of who we are and what we stand for.
Why are aesthetics in coffee packaging so important?
Portland Coffee Roasters continues to be committed to building and strengthening sustainable coffee communities with everyone involved in the coffee chain. The doodle concept illustrates the global coffee community and also represents who we are as a company. Doodles are fun and approachable; they are a genuine expression of human nature and creativity. The doodle theme of our new packaging meshes perfectly with the culture and personality of Portland Coffee Roasters––understated, accessible and unpretentious.
Is the package recyclable or compostable?
Our new bags are not currently recyclable or compostable. We did extensive research on many different materials with resources from the Sustainability Office of Portland. To our surprise, many of those better sounding materials may work really well in service of one ecological domain (for instance, landfill capacity), but that upside comes with a steep downside in another domain (such as greenhouse gas emissions). We also learned the hard way that compostability and actually being composted are not the same thing. Considering the real-world lifecycle of packaging is a high priority for us, where we can be confident that we’re striking the right balance. We believe our current bag is the best available in terms of material, weight, and the ability to consistently deliver the freshest coffee to our customers. One approach we are discussing with our bag manufacturer is the possibility of a bag that is 100% recyclable via the How2Recycle program. This product is still in the testing phase but it’s one approach we are excited about.
Where is PCR currently available?
You can get our coffee at portlandcoffeeroasters.com, as well as at local Portland, Oregon-area Fred Meyers, New Seasons, and Zupan's. We are also available at QFC, Safeway (PNW), Jewel Osco, The Fresh Market, Dierbergs, Stater Brothers, Schnucks, and Amazon.com.
What's next for PCR in 2020?
We are excited to begin updating the look of our retail cafe spaces in 2020.
Location: Portland, Oregon
Design Debut: November 2019
Designer: Tayler Engel, Klay Arsenault, Amie LeeKing
Zachary Carlsen is a co-founder and editor at Sprudge Media Network. Read more Zachary Carlsen on Sprudge.