CAFESMO: Celebrating coffee origins through packaging design

Amelia Cooper
June 12, 2023
An image of CAFESMO custom-printed coffee bag for Microlote offerings in an article about Coffee Bag Design and Cafesmo coffee bags

The Coffee Bag Design Series explores specialty coffee brands with unique designs that stand out and fire up the imagination. This week, we spoke with CAFESMO about how they formalised their cooperative and use coffee packaging to promote each of their individual fincas. 

Ask any specialty coffee aficionado and they are likely to say the taste is only part of the experience. Of course, aromatic and complex beans form the core of specialty coffee brands. However, surrounding – and enhancing – this beloved experience is the carefully curated branding of these innovating companies. 

From globally renowned names to small-scale indies, the branding of specialty coffee is one of this industry’s most distinctive qualities. To learn more about the designs behind CAFESMO’s intricate coffee packaging, I spoke with Hidardo Hernández, an initiator of CAFESMO.

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The start of CAFESMO: A collaboration of 280+ coffee growers

CAFESMO is made up of an extensive network of members with a long history of specialty coffee collaboration. The group of over 280 members first formalised their relationship in 2016, under the banner of CAFESMO. Since then, the farmers have established a highly successful cooperation, which prides itself on offering “quality and diversity”.

Notably, CAFESMO is a proudly Honduran initiative and is run entirely by Hondurans. The group then collaborates with a global network, including specialists across Canada, the Netherlands and the US. 

“We founded CAFESMO to offer our community of farmers more opportunities to connect with roasters worldwide and offer their high-end coffees for a fair price,” explains Hidardo, who is also a fourth-generation coffee farmer. “Our ethos is quality and diversity. We strive to offer consistently high-quality coffees with a diverse taste range.”

To this aim, CAFESMO comprises a range of small, individual fincas, the majority of which are between 2 and 12 hectares. All are Fair Trade and/or Organic (FTO) certified and boast an exceptional range of varieties. Each variety has been selected with extreme care, and grown with the optimum conditions, techniques, soils, and altitudes required to achieve the finest end result.  

Today, CAFESMO offers an extensive and consistently expanding variety of specialty coffees. These include Catuaí, Colombia, Pacas, Parainema, Lempira, Obatá and IHCAFE90. Across all aspects of their operations, the team at CAFESMO seeks to produce their products in as sustainable a fashion as possible. This includes, wherever possible, the circular cultivation of coffee, which aims to ensure environmental, social, and economic sustainability for everyone involved.

An image of custom-printed coffee bags with customised side panels, CAFESMO coffee bags, customised coffee bags in an article about Coffee Bag Design and Cafesmo coffee bags

CAFESMO coffee bag design: “Coveting a bond”

As a brand, CAFESMO conveys its ethics to consumers through its custom-printed coffee bags. Each bag features a delicate illustration of natural environments. A distinctive watercolour effect is used to capture the beauty and serenity of each setting. 

Alongside this, the softness of the various illustrations cleverly pays homage to the brand values and CAFESMO’s ongoing prioritisation of techniques with the minimum impact on the environment. As Hidardo explains, this packaging design illustrates CAFESMO’s ethos of protecting “bird life, preserving nature, and coveting our bond with our farms and coffees.”

The main focal point of each coffee bag is the watercolour background. However, this is also accompanied by several other signature design features. For instance, the coffee bags for CAFESMO’s micro-lot offering features a red macaw or parrot, mid-flight over a tropical setting of banana leaves. Pink flowers and a toucan also adorn the top of the bag, with simple gold typography informing consumers of the micro lot selection. 

Their “special” offering is adorned with rolling green hills and trees, with a more unique font used on the front. Their “clasico” coffee bags feature a simple design that incorporates common coffee illustrations, such as cups, beans, and jute sacks. The font on this bag is fun, colourful and eye-catching. The side panels of each bag are completely customised, boasting smooth lines, fun geometric shapes, and bold colours. 

A modern, elegant touch is brought to the coffee packaging through its inclusion of white and gold line art, which resembles the natural grains and rings of wood. Despite being distinctly minimalist, they offer a great counterpoint to the traditional artistry of watercolour. This effect is echoed further by the implementation of metallic ink printing, which CAFESMO recently added to its packaging. The metallic element is designed to give the packaging an added edge, artfully contrasting with the delicacy of the natural watercolours. 

An image of CAFESMO custom-printed coffee packaging, customised coffee bags, custom coffee bags, in an article about Coffee Bag Design and Cafesmo coffee bags

Coffee bag designs that transport consumers

The growing environment for coffee is a core part of CAFESMO – even more so than most specialty coffee providers. These carefully selected natural locations are core to CAFESMO’s uniqueness and the quality the brand takes such extensive pride in. As a result, it makes sense these locations are the key feature of its branding. 

“As a company, CAFESMO stands for consistency, openness, quality, equality, and equitable relationships,” Hidardo says. “So, we were bold in our design, and use it to convey an image of reliable serenity.”

“Our coffee growing environments served as our inspiration,” he adds. “We live in a colourful village, surrounded by pine forests and coffee farms. There is an abundance of bird life, many creeks and small cascades, and, of course, we have our national bird: the Macaw, which features prominently in our branding.” The design forms a core part of the brands’ ongoing work to build recognition, and reaffirm its reputation as “stable and trustworthy.”

It is clear that creating branded coffee packaging is about far more than sticking a logo on the front of a bag. Customisation spans the full breadth of packaging elements, including illustrations, typography, bag size and shape, colour palettes and tone of voice. Through these customised elements, a brand can demonstrate its personal ethos and all the unique selling points (USPs) that set it apart. 

MTPak Coffee offers a full range of state-of-the-art customisation techniques, allowing coffee brands to create distinctive, utterly unique and sustainable packaging. Whether you want to add a gloss or matte finish to your bag, or feature bold holographic elements, our team is on hand to help bring your design ideas to life. 

Did you enjoy this edition of The Coffee Bag Design Series? For the full archive of articles and more coffee packaging content, visit MTPak Coffee’s Education Centre.

Looking for sustainable coffee bags? Contact the team today.

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