Vaga Bon Café is an independent coffee roaster out of Switzerland specializing in single origins with distinct profiles—and an especially distinctive packaging.
At Vaga Bon, whole bean coffees come packed in unique tin cans capped with a cork as a nod to the winemaking. The company started in 2016 in a truck—”small scale with little to none equipment or budget but with the desire to do well, to develop an expertise and work with an exclusive product,” says founder Yoann Leuba. “From there we opened our own coffee shop in Lausanne in a shared warehouse in the city center. For the roastery, we rent a small space from a winemaker in the middle of Lavaux vineyards.”
Yoann Leuba quickly impresses as a passionate and knowledgable coffee pro, someone who is putting every bit as much of themselves into the art of coffee as, say, a vigneron does with great wine. “As much as we can, we like to do things our way to stick to our values and philosophy, in all our project we try to infuse our things with personality and authenticity,” they tell us. “We believe in meticulous craftsmanship, in a do-it-yourself approach, as a way of fostering a proper and unique local coffee culture and as an effective response to big industries.”
We spoke to Yoann Leuba virtually to learn more.
Tell us about the packaging! When did it debut?
When it comes to packaging we used to rely on kraft bags, as many roasters do, but with each new order to our supplier the desire to develop something new grew stronger. Like most projects at Vaga Bon Café, it took quite some time for the idea to bloom and for us to evaluate our needs and objectives but eventually something clicked and we got down to work until the job was done. The rules were simple. Our new packaging needed to be really recyclable here in Switzerland, ensure optimal coffee freshness and last but not least original, with a little added flair to it!
Who designed it?
We explored many different metal-based options with different closures, lids, welding and son on… So we got in touch with manufacturers from Switzerland and Europe, asked around for samples and quotes. In short, it took a lot of phone calls and emails! Eventually we found these tin cans from a Spanish manufacturer. By cold calling the factory we managed to find someone who fully understood our idea and was okay to sell us a few pallets rather than a truckload! For the closure we hesitated a lot until we decided to be straightforward about it. As we’re based in a wine growing region we found cork to be a nice reference and most importantly a very appropriate way to seal our cans. Then we worked on labels, trying to make something nice for each release.
What releases are you currently excited about?
We are seasonally led and like to work with many lots from the same origin, the intention being to showcase nuances in profiles, terroir, varieties and processing methods. At the moment we have three lots from Kenya, two from Ethiopia, and four from El Salvador. The variety that’s making us sweat the most these days is a Pacamara from Mauricio Salaverria in El Salvador, which we bought both washed and natural. It’s the first season we have Pacamara on the listing as we knew it’s particularly difficult to roast and really get the best out of it!
What’s next for Vaga Bon Café?
The next big step for us will occur in January 2023 as we will upgrade our roaster to a Loring. This means we’ll need to adjust our working approach and re-learn to roast, re-work extractions, etc. This is a big step for us and we can’t wait to get started on this one!
Photos courtesy Vaga Bon Café.