According to Brash Coffee owner Matt Ludwikowski, coffee producers are the new rock stars. So what do you do to celebrate rock stars? You plaster their faces on t-shirts, of course!
Ludwikowski admits it’s a little crazy—so crazy, he's picked up the nickname “Pajaro Loco” (“Crazy Bird”) from some of the coffee farmers Brash buys from. His wild hair may also have something to do with it. “I love that I can develop relationships with farmers all over the world, and really connect with them on a human level,” Ludwikowski tells me. “We can be friends. And they can care about whether or not their coffee’s being served here.”
Each farmer-featured shirt at Brash highlights a quality about the farmer. For Henry Gaibor, a retired medical doctor now farming coffee in Ecuador, his t-shirt bares the phrase “The Scientist”. Producer Ruben Magana's shirt dubs him “The Philosopher”, based on “the more philosophical approach” he takes towards farming, according to Ludwikowski.
Brash's t-shirts were designed by Atlanta graphic designers Alvin Diec and Travis Ekmark, of The Office of Brothers. This is merch with a goal: these shirts take the names and terms from the coffee world—which can sound foreign and confusing to many consumers—and relate them to a face and a person.
“If you were a customer, and you became a big fan of Henry’s coffee, maybe you want to rep Henry when you’re walking around town or something,” Diec tells me. According to Ludwikowski, the farmers think having their faces on t-shirts is pretty rad, too. He says he wants people to know that at the end of the line, there’s a person who had the dream to make coffee—someone who took risks and worked really hard to do it.
You can purchase Brash's t-shirts on their website.
Yee Won Liew is a freelance journalist based in Chattanooga, Tennessee. This is Yee Won Liew's first feature for Sprudge.