Water Avenue Coffee in Portland, Oregon, launched their subtly redesigned new look bags in March of 2016. This dovetails with a season of precipitous growth at Water Ave, as they’re colloquially known, including an expansion to a new spacious roasting facility in late 2015, the debut of a classy new breakfast menu from chef Ryan Kennedy, and now these updated bags. Let’s learn more about the design from Water Avenue founder Matt Milletto.

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As told to Sprudge by Matt Milletto. 


When did the coffee package design debut?

We launched the new packaging in early March after about a year of planning, design and logistics.


Who designed the package?

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Bruce Milletto and I were integral in the design and worked with a local product designer, Jason Martin, to help us execute the final packaging design and rebrand. We brainstormed with our production, retail and roasting team as well.


Please describe the look in your own words.

The design is classic and inviting. We’ve always thought of our packaging to be similar to what you’d get in a candy store in the early to mid century. We balanced white space and accents to complement the color pop of our labels. The textural experience is important too, and we chose a rough kraft paper that embodies a level of freshness that we find very important. It was very important to us to preserve what we loved about our existing branding, and to implement a new logo and brand that was seamless and a visual and tangible enhancement. We also have embraced our neighborhood and the fact we are on the Willamette River in Portland by introducing a pair of oars in the new logo, representing balance and movement.


What coffee information do you share on the package? What’s the motivation behind that?

Beyond the obvious, origin/blend, weight and company information, we also include information about the coffee including region, farmer info and, of course, tasting notes and profile description. Every coffee has a story, and we feel that our customers identify with each coffee and enjoy understanding the journey of a certain single-origin coffee or story behind one of our blends. The vast majority of our coffees are purchased direct from farmers that we have long-standing relationships with, which we do identify as our Direct-Trade offerings as well.


Where is the bag manufactured?

We worked with Pacific Bag and went with their Biotre line.


For package nerds, what type of package is it?

PBi spent over two years in developing the Biotrē Film, including extensive composting and cupping test with industry leaders to verify that Biotrē effectively preserves and protects sensitive products like coffee.

A standard plastic/foil laminate is made from 100% non-renewable resources and is not considered biodegradable. Biotrē Film is made from 60% (by weight) renewable wood pulp. The wood pulp portion is biodegradable. Third-party testing per ASTM tests D-6868 and D-6400 confirmed that nearly 100% of the wood pulp portion will disintegrate into healthy compost over 84 days in a home composting environment.

The remaining 40% (by weight) of the bag is Polyethylene (PE) from fossil fuels with an additive that is designed to make it breakdown over five to ten years. When Biotre is properly disposed and this portion is removed and placed in the trash, it will have reduced impact on the waste stream compared to standard PE.

Coffee Design is a feature series by Zachary Carlsen on Sprudge. Read more Coffee Design here.