Sightglass Coffee has been serving up coffee in San Francisco since 2009. Now with locations in both San Francisco and Los Angeles, Sightglass Coffee has grown from its humble beginnings as a mobile cart to a California powerhouse found in cafes, sold at grocery stores, and served in restaurants across the US and Korea.

When asked about the last year, Director of Education Grant MacHamer told us the company has “managed to stay positive, release some incredible coffees, and continue to engage with and be there for our customers and communities. Our continued goal in all of this has been to be a resource to our communities with great coffee and a place to reconnect in a way where everyone feels safe and cared for.”

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Their coffee bags are a 2020 Sprudgie Award finalist for Best Coffee Design/Packaging. The company worked with the design agency Everything Type Company, describing their partnership as “hands-on and collaborative.” We spoke to the team about their process to learn more.

Sightglass Bag 02
Owl’s Howl Espresso Blend coffee bag

Who designed the coffee bags?

We designed our bags alongside our collaborators over at the Everything Type Company (ETC). Jerad and Justin, our founders, are longtime friends with Kyle at ETC. They’ve worked together from the start and have helped us build and define our visual identity across a variety of areas including our website, packaging, and even some in-store features. It’s a unique partnership for us in that it is very hands-on and collaborative.

Sightglass Bag 01
Organic Blueboon Blend coffee bag

Tell us about the material, the colors, and what the colors represent.

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We used Biotrē 2.0 for the packaging, which we’ve been very happy with. We started off with tried-and-true kraft paper bags, and a few iterations in between, but are the happiest with the look and structure of these bags. The colors are simple and clean and meant to visually help the customer sort the coffees, whether they’re on a grocery store shelf or in our own cafe. For the choice of colors, we started with a specific deep brown from our logo and built a complementary palette of warm and inviting tones around it. We use charcoal grey for espresso blends, a deep blue for drip blends, and our classic brown for all of our single origin coffees. We also have a set of off-white bags that we use for special occasions, like the release of our first seasonal blend, Winter Solstice.

Sightglass Seasonal Offering
Winter Solstice blend coffee bag

Of all the bags I’ve had hit my desk none have been so uniformly compact—how do you achieve such perfect coffee packaging?

You are far too kind! The current version of our packaging took nearly a year to fine-tune, and with good reason. We spent a lot of time trying out different sizes and shapes, filling them, handling them, and getting feedback from our fulfillment team—the folks that would be interacting with them the most. This slow and holistic approach to design allowed us to look at the bags from every angle and left us with a tall, slim bag that feels solid but not stuffed, fits perfectly in your hands, and looks equally great on a shelf. Additionally, all of our bags are still packed by hand, and we put a lot of training into the packing process. It’s a small detail but it speaks to the many choices that we make along the entire chain. Carelessness is contagious and if a roaster drops a batch too soon or a barista lets a shot run too long, these little moments add up, and the customers notice. We believe that bag rolling is a subtle indication of the attention paid to each coffee that leaves our warehouse and heads out into the world.

Instant Coffee Sightglass Coffee
Blueboon Blend and Ethiopia Shakisso instant coffee boxes

Where is Sightglass Coffee currently available?

Besides our cafes in LA and SF, we’re lucky to have partnered with neighborhood cafes, grocery stores and incredible restaurants across the US (even a few in Korea!)

Sightglass Cascara
Coffee Cascara Shrub in bottle

When everything is open again and we’re free to move around the world how would you recommend we spend a perfect day in SF?

We dream of this day regularly. Start the day at the Ferry Building Farmers Market and buy something delightfully unfamiliar like miner’s lettuce or a eureka pink lemon. Around lunch, head up to North Beach and grab an Italian sandwich and a chinotto at Molinari Deli and climb the seemingly endless stairs up to Coit Tower for lunch with a view. Make your way up Market Street to the Mission District and grab a little mezcal cocktail at ABV or head straight to Dolores Park to catch some sun or a midday nap. Once adequately refreshed, head west and revive yourself with a macchiato from our Divisadero St cafe, and as you sip stroll the charming little side streets packed with quirky, unique, and intricately decorated Victorian homes, before heading for Golden Gate Park. You could spend years exploring this park, so just stop for whatever strikes your fancy. Make your way down to Ocean Beach and splash your feet in the water, while watching surfers do what we can only dream of. As the sun is starting to dip, head up to Outerlands for one of the corner tables or a seat at the bar. You won’t have to worry about missing a majestic sunset, because much of the restaurant (and staff) will have slowly trickled outside to enjoy it. Just follow them, you won’t be sorry you did.

Thank you!

Visit Sightglass Coffee’s official website for current offerings and cafe hours.

Zachary Carlsen is a co-founder and editor at Sprudge Media Network. Read more Zachary Carlsen on Sprudge. 

Photos courtesy Sightglass Coffee.

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