Our longtime friends and partners at Equator Coffees & Teas are based in the North Bay city of San Rafael, California. Their signature vivid red packaging launched in 2012, and since that time the brand has been on a tear, from opening their first retail cafe in a Marin County surf shop, to winning awards for their rare Dwarf Geisha coffee, to launching a flagship shop on Market Street in the heart of San Francisco. Nice growth for a nice package—let’s learn more.
As told to Sprudge by Laura Scott and Ted Stachura.
When did the coffee package design debut?
Although there was a small print run earlier, the official rollout of the branding, including new bags was July 2012.
Who designed the package?
Studio Scott, a boutique design studio in San Francisco.
Any design highlights you want to share?
Our red is Pantone 199 C. Overall design is clean with quiet strength. The logo-mark is custom. We use Gotham as our typeface—its classic, open letterforms echoing the horizontal nature of the Equator line.
Please describe the look in your own words!
The Equator coffee packaging uses the visual of the equator line to reinforce Equator’s name. The Equator name repeats along the center of the bag—the equator line—and the design takes advantage of the 360-degree bag experience to further reference longitudes. (When the bag is unfolded, the location of Equator’s roastery in San Rafael, CA is revealed: 37º 57’ N.) Equator red is the dominant color, conveying the hot temperatures found along the equator where most of the world’s best coffees are sourced.
Our symbol of the roaming tiger finds its way into the equator line, linking the Equator name band together. Tigers live in the equatorial region and, like the coffee plant, prefer the tropical climate. They symbolize passion, strength, courage, elegance, and speed. We love our tiger!
What coffee information do you share on the package? What’s the motivation behind that?
Regarding the labels themselves, in an effort to keep them clean (legible) and concise, we include limited information:
- Coffee name (if single origin this includes country of origin, farm/region/co-op identifier, sometimes processing or variety identifier if relevant and certification note if relevant)
- Brief flavor description.
- Region for single-origin coffees or origin countries for blends.
- Certification mark (Organic and/or Fair Trade) if relevant.
- Physical address included for organic regulation compliance.
- The roast date is labeled separately on the bottom of the bag.
We currently share Equator’s philosophy and practices on the retail packaging, sharing Equator’s passion for bringing its coffee story to life: its dedication to building relationships with coffee growers and its advocacy for a sustainable coffee supply chain from farm to community to cup. We proudly showcase our B Corp certification logo on the bag as well as a QR code that takes people directly to our website. We apply a seal closure tab which has handy brewing instructions for coffee aficionados and newbies.
The motivation behind sharing this information is because it is a story worth sharing. Helen Russell and Brooke McDonnell, the founders of Equator, live this story every single day and we are proud to have such actionable values be the “fuel” for the company and the choices it makes.
Where is the bag manufactured?
Our bags are manufactured by Pacific Bags.
Is the bag biodegradable, recyclable, and/or compostable?
Technology for biodegradable packaging material has improved significantly and we are moving forward with the design process for our next run of bags. Remaining issues are the valve and tin tie but the quality of the biodegradable material itself is far superior to what it was 3-4 years ago.
It is not recyclable at the moment as quality, recyclable bags were not available when we went to production. There are now environmentally friendly options available that don’t compromise the quality and taste of the coffee (beans or grounds), and our next bag order will be happily moving to these new eco bags.
Location: San Rafael, California
Design Date: July 2012
Designer: Studio Scott
Manufacturer: Pacific Bags