Summit Coffee out of North Carolina celebrated twenty years of coffee-making in 2018. In the last two decades, Summit has evolved from a single cafe to a multi-cafe roasting company. To kick off the new year, Summit has refreshed its look with a whole new look. It was a true family effort within the company and two years in the making. The colors pop on the Quad Seal Box Bottom bag and we especially dig the topographical touches. We reached out to owner Brian Helfrich to learn more.

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Tell us a bit about how Summit got started.

Summit Coffee opened in 1998, as a cafe in downtown Davidson, North Carolina, and we stayed as such until 2013. Since then, we’ve opened a roasting business (in 2015) and two more cafes, in Davidson (2013) and Asheville (2017).

I have owned and operated Summit since 2011, though it’s been in the family since 2003 when my brother acquired it.

You’re starting off 2019 with a brand new design! How long has it been in development?

The packaging rebrand started in 2017, when we were building our Asheville cafe and fell in love with the white/antique green color scheme. Previously, Summit’s brand colors had been orange and dark green. So over the past 15 months, we’ve updated our three cafes to fit the brand refresh, and now the retail bags are our final “here we are, here’s our brand.” We have actively been working on this bag design since summer 2018.

Who designed the package?

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This was an exercise in collaboration the whole way. My wife, Tyler, who designed our Asheville cafe and serves as Summit’s Artistic Director, compiled my scattered vision for these bags and put it into a visual that makes sense. Then, Tyler teamed with Brooke Basinger, a local graphic designer who also happens to be the partner of Summit’s COO, Andrew Kelleher. Together, Tyler and Brooke pushed this design forward from idea to drafts to final product.

Once we had a workable draft, we partnered with Savor Bags on the actual production—and their team was immensely helpful the entire way.

What coffee information is shared on the package?

We chose a different color for each of our coffees—the label is affixed over the top of the bag, and the color of the coffee matches the taste profile. We have a single-farmer washed Ethiopian coffee from producer Tadese Mamao that drinks so much like pink lemonade, the label is pink. We also find that customers who are visually attracted to certain colors are inclined to find that the coffee inside matches their taste preference.

A goal of ours is to make amazing coffee more approachable—so we did away with variety, altitude, tasting notes on the front of the bag. We chose, rather, to represent each coffee with a single statement. We want the consumer to have an accurate idea of what they’re buying.

All of our bags also include some brand copy—our mission statement, our story, and our “Find Your Summit” brand ethos—and brewing recommendations.

Tell us about some of the stylistic and aesthetic choices you’ve made in the new design.

We wanted the bags to both represent our brand evolution, and also to pop. We studied a lot of coffee bags, and sought a design and bag that stood out for its colors, shape and aesthetic. The bag we fell in love with, from a size standpoint, was one we saw from Presta coffee. We also wanted to feature something geometric and artistic—and in alignment with our brand, we created a topographical map that covers most of the bag. We’re actually using the same design to do printed to-go cups for our cafes.

Where is the bag manufactured?

We partnered with Savor Brands, which is doing awesome work out of Hawaii.

Is the package recyclable/compostable?

Our partner at Savor Brands has set up a cool relationship with TerraCycle, a global leader in recycling hard-to-recycle waste. Savor offers complimentary recycling on our coffee packaging, where 100% of the collected bags are recycled and made into new materials.

Where is it currently available?

The bags are available in our cafes, online, with many of our wholesale partners, and in markets and grocery stores around the Southeast (Whole Foods, Fresh Market, lots of markets in the Charlotte and Asheville areas)

Company: Summit Coffee Co.
Location: North Carolina
Country: United States
Design Debut: January 2019
Designer: Tyler Helfrich and Brooke Basinger

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

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