A roaster’s guide to naming coffees

Karmen Yoong
March 21, 2022
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Specialty roasters will often give their coffees unique and exciting names when launching to the market.

Essentially, names represent the identity of a coffee. They are functional, descriptive, and can serve as a reference point for consumers.

At the same time, the name of a coffee can tell a story and can have an emotional appeal. This can influence the way consumers perceive a product, and further affect their buying decisions.

Given the importance of a name, deciding what to call a coffee is not an easy task. Roasters often go through a deliberate and meticulous process to pick a specialty coffee name that ticks all the boxes.

To understand more about the process of naming coffees, I spoke with three-time barista champion, Nicole Battefeld-Montgomery.

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Why do roasters “name” their coffees?

Coffee names come in different forms: some are named after a producing country or farm, while others are labelled after desserts or seasons.

However, one thing specialty coffee names have in common is roasters often create them with the interest of their consumers in mind.

“One purpose of coffee names is to provide information to consumers, such as its origin and taste profile,” says Nicole, who is currently the head of education at Rancilio Group – a leading coffee machine manufacturer.

For example, ONA Coffee’s blend “Raspberry Candy” clearly shows that consumers can expect berry and creamy flavour notes from the coffee.

Additionally, Nicole states that names are given not only to reflect the product itself, but to showcase the brand behind the product.

“The other reason for naming coffee is to build brand identity,” says Nicole, who also runs the Female Barista Society and hosts the She’s The Barista podcast. “So, you name the coffee after something your brand represents.

“The name can be related to your company, or where it is from. For example, if you’re a roaster based in Berlin, the capital of Germany, you may have a blend called ‘Capital’ or ‘Berlin Blend.’”

Indeed, names that fit into a brand narrative can contribute to a strong brand identity. In turn, this can lead to great recognition and differentiation from competitors.

Furthermore, roasters can use coffee names to tell a story or pay homage to farmers. For instance, Mission Coffee Works called one of their coffees “The Lady” to highlight the work of female coffee producers.

What’s more, specialty coffee names are an effective tool to help generate excitement, especially for limited edition coffees released during special occasions.

girls who grind naming coffee

What are the most common themes for specialty coffee names?

Specialty coffee names can fall under a few categories: producing region, farm name, and coffee variety are some of the most popular themes – especially for single origin coffees.

Single origin coffees refer to beans that can be traced back to a single farm, estate, variety, or country. As this type of coffee is often celebrated for its traceability, it makes sense for roasters to use a name that is directly related to the source.

Another common theme includes taste profile and “special” days.

“For example, we’re coming up to Easter, so you could call a coffee ‘Easter Egg’,” says Nicole, who is also a barista, roaster, and coffee trainer. “Then, consumers already know they can give it as a gift, and it is probably going to taste like milk chocolate.

“You also have ‘Christmas Coffee’ or ‘Valentine’s Coffee’. ‘Special’ day offerings are incredibly good for companies as sales would usually go through the roof,” she adds.

Roasters can also draw inspiration from a combination of seasons and taste profile. A prime example of this is ONA Coffee’s special summer release of “Melted Rainbow Popsicle” and “Sunkissed Raspberry Cordial”.

In addition, some specialty coffee names are created specifically based on the branding.

Girls Who Grind Coffee is an all-female roastery in the UK. Living up to their brand identity that is focussed on female empowerment, their coffees are all named after women producers from whom they exclusively source.

When naming coffee blends, Nicole says she tends to use “bold names” that help convey the personality of the coffees.

“We called a harmonious coffee that goes well with milk ‘Sinfonia’ because it means symphony,” Nicole says. “A coffee that has a lot of African beans in the blend and is very new to the market was called ‘Novum’, which means ‘new’ or ‘novelty’ in German.”

What to consider when naming your coffees

Roasters must consider a few things, such as branding, before naming their coffee. They should factor in what the brand stands for, and how they want it to be viewed by consumers.

Specialty coffee names that do not speak for the brand, or are inconsistent in identity can confuse consumers, and may even drive them away.

“Consumers want to buy from someone they know,” Nicole says. “They don’t want to buy from someone who doesn’t even know themselves.”

She adds that if your brand name and design is constantly changing, or is not related to each other, it can be difficult to build a steady brand identity.

In short, coffee names – especially those sold year-round – should follow a consistent theme. Having a timeless name is equally important, as it allows the coffee to stay relevant for longer.

That being said, Nicole recommends roasters release seasonal coffees as it allows them to express their creativity through names. In addition to creating novelty and excitement, this is an effective way to educate consumers about coffee seasonality and harvest cycles.

Coupled with branding, target audience is an important factor in naming specialty coffee. In particular, the name should align with the reason consumers buy into the brand.

Roasters should consider whether consumers care more about the coffee’s origins, or if they are interested in the overall brand image.

“I need to focus not just on my customers, but also the customers of my customers.” Nicole adds.

This is especially true with business-to-business (B2B) accounts. Nicole explains that the cafes and restaurants serving the coffee should be able to tell their customers about the coffee’s name and brand.

“If the name is long and complicated, they may not be able to remember it, or share that information with their customers,” Nicole says.

naming coffee girls who grind

Ultimately, specialty coffee names are essential, as they represent a brand. Furthermore, they have the power to build trust, increase mindshare, and set expectations among consumers.

Therefore, being more intentional with specialty coffee names could be beneficial for roasters. In addition, coffee bag design is also an important aspect to consider when naming coffees, as the graphics can tie in with the theme and flavour profile.

At MTPak Coffee, our range of sustainable coffee bags is fully customisable, from materials and pouch type to design and additional features. We have a team of dedicated designers who can work with specialty roasters to create packaging that compliments your coffee name and paints the best story of your brand.

Our sustainable water-based inks are not only highly resistant to abrasion, heat, and water, but they are compostable and easy to remove for recycling. When used on our range of packaging materials made from kraft paper and rice paper, they create a completely recyclable coffee bag.

For more information on our sustainable coffee bags, contact the team.

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Karmen Yoong
Karmen Yoong

Karmen has been a writer for MTPak Coffee for several years and is very passionate about her craft.

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