Using black packaging to create a sense of elegance and nostalgia

Amelia Cooper
December 8, 2022
LongStory Coffee Co: Using black packaging to create a sense of elegance and nostalgia

When it comes to packaging, colour is one of the most critical components for attracting customers. Therefore, understanding the psychology behind colours can be fundamental to the success of your business. In this series, we dive into why roasters choose certain colours for coffee packaging, and how it represents a brand.

Sleek, mysterious, and modern. While it may lack the boldness of the colour red, it is easy to see why so many specialty coffee brands choose to feature black in their packaging. 

As much as consumers love a pop of colour, there is a lot to be said about the understated, quiet confidence of minimalism. The colour black is widely seen across specialty coffee packaging, either alongside others or as the primary colour of a coffee bag.

Black boasts an immediate sense of quality and professionalism. Alternatively, the colour could be used to represent the alt-aesthetic and rebel vibe that sets the sector apart.

To discover more about the benefits that the colour black brings to coffee packaging, I spoke with Erik Busch, the owner of LongStory Coffee Co.

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An image of LongStory Coffee Co nitro coffee in black coffee packaging, custom printed labels for cans of nitro brew coffee in an article on LongStory Coffee Co black coffee packaging.

From beer to brewing coffee: Who are LongStory Coffee Co?

Based in the city of Belleville, Illinois, in the US, LongStory Coffee Co is an indie small batch, artisanal coffee roaster that started in December 2019. 

Notably, Erik’s move into the specialty coffee came from a rather unique angle. He had worked in the beer industry for over seven years, having studied brewing and fermentation technology. 

“I had worked as a brewer, a beer distributor sales representative, and more recently, a brewery sales manager,” says Erik, who is also the head roaster at LongStory. 

“I had always loved brewing beer, but the process was lengthy. My fiancé’s father saw how much I enjoyed coffee and gave me a small air roaster as a gift.”

Erik explains he instantly fell in love with coffee roasting. It gave me all the joy I found in brewing at just a fraction of the time!” He says. 

Erik admits he enjoys creating a recipe, making the product by hand, and being able to drink the fruits of his labour. 

“Instead of taking hours to brew and weeks to ferment, coffee takes minutes to roast and days to taste,” he says. “I jumped deeper into coffee roasting and, of course, went down the typical route of gifting to friends and family.”

Soon, Erik found his coffee sales were eating into his free time and continuing to grow. “When a local coffee roaster closed shop to move out of state, I jumped at the opportunity to take over his space and move my business full-time,” he says. 

Ever since, LongStory Coffee has grown from strength to strength. Its product range includes many coffee varieties, the full breadth of roast profiles, and brewing styles, including canned nitro coffees.

True to form, Erik’s ambitious growth plans show no signs of slowing. Currently, LongStory is working on opening a 4,000-square-foot cafe and roastery inside a historic train depot that was built during the 1800s. 

“My goal is to take the experience I have gained from the beer industry and bring it to the coffee world,” Erik explains. “I’ve been doing this with rotating barrel-aged coffee, as well as using techniques from the beer industry to brew nitro coffee that we keg and can.

Erik hopes to open the cafe by the New Year, where nitro, single origin, and pour over coffees will be served alongside espresso-based beverages.

An image of custom print takeaway coffee cup sleeves custom printed by LongStory Coffee Co in an article on LongStory Coffee Co black coffee packaging.

How does LongStory’s coffee packaging reflect its brand?

All at once, LongStory’s coffee packaging is minimalist, creative, bold, and sleek. 

The brand has achieved these often polarising qualities through an intriguing combination: its trademark illustration, handwritten-style typography, pops of orange, and a sharp black background as the primary colour.

When creating a look for the brand, Erik explains the designer asked the team for words they would use to describe it. “The words that first came to mind were elegant, timeless, public library, and New Yorker magazine,” he says. 

And so, the colours they settled on evoke the feeling of an old worn book. “The dark ‘chimney smoke’ and leather brown colours reminded me of the look and feel of an old leather-bound book,” Erik says.  

Additionally, he felt the antique white was a perfect match, as it was just off-white enough to evoke feelings of worn paper.

For Erik, it is the combined vibe created by this unison of colours that best embodies LongStory’s brand identity. 

“Individually, I don’t know if any of these colours would represent the brand,” Erik admits. “However, when combined, they look the part of sitting on a dusty bookshelf, just waiting to be picked up and explored. This perfectly complements our brand identity at LongStory.”

An image of LongStory Coffee Co coffee packaging custom printed coffee bags quad seal coffee bags with degassing valves in an article on LongStory Coffee Co black coffee packaging.

How effective is black coffee packaging from a consumer’s perspective?

The use of the colour black in LongStory’s coffee packaging is brilliantly singular. 

Across the brands’ coffee packaging, black is used as an imaginative alternative to the usual modern monochrome designs. 

Here, it creates a timeless aesthetic and is used to establish an engaging link to Erik’s personality. 

“I’ve long had a love of history and mythology,” Erik says. “So, I try to name all of my coffees after historical figures, mythological creatures, or landmarks from where the coffee originated.”

This theme is seamlessly deployed across all elements of the coffee’s branding and packaging. “When we name our coffee, we also give it a story of what it was named after,” he adds. 

The brand’s box-bottom coffee bags allow them to sit on a shelf and appear as a book that holds the name and story of each coffee. The sides of the coffee bags have been customised to look like a bookcase.

“The colours we used for the side of the coffee bags are much more focused on the washed-out colours of the New Yorker, or an old public library,” Erik says. “These complement the book-themed colours on the front and back of the packaging while still being vibrant enough to make the products stand out.”

An image of LongStory coffee co coffee tin of barrel-aged coffee in an article on LongStory Coffee Co black coffee packaging.

The unique and timeless look of LongStory’s Coffee’s packaging show that even the most tried-and-tested packaging colours still possess plenty of room for creativity.

Even black, a colour widely used across specialty coffee branding, still gives designers ample scope to be innovative, dynamic, and put their own stamp on packaging. 

Did you enjoy diving into the psychology behind the colours used in coffee packaging? 

Keep an eye on the Community Section of our Education Centre for our monthly article, which will focus on a new brand and a different colour.

Photo credits: LongStory Coffee Co.

For more information on designing sustainable, custom-print coffee bags, contact our team.

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