Coffee packaging design: The power of imagery

Tori Taylor
September 18, 2023
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While coffee bags are meant to protect beans from the roastery to the consumer, they are also meant to entice people to buy your product. Eye-catching coffee packaging design can help raise brand awareness, ensure your product stands out, and attract new customers. 

That said, consumers have become increasingly captivated by the stories behind their favourite brands in recent years. Therefore, story-driven coffee packaging has become a common practice among specialty roasters and cafes.

Essentially, the design should inform consumers about how the company started, what it represents, and what it stands for. Alternatively, it can help convey the entire journey of the coffee from seed to cup. 

The imagery used on coffee bags can be one of the most effective ways to relay this information to consumers. Images on coffee bags can reflect not only flavour notes but also the coffee origins or the culture of the region from which it was sourced. 

Alicia Steyn, owner of Sorcery Coffee Roasters in Pretoria, South Africa, explains how the photographs she took while travelling through West Africa inspired the brand’s coffee packaging design. 

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How can imagery on coffee bags convey a story?

Packaging that portrays a story can help customers create an emotional and personal connection with the brand. This is according to a 2021 study, which also states that stories on packaging can boost customer engagement. 

Furthermore, researchers have discussed the efficacy of storytelling in branding across different industries, such as fashion, non-profits, and finance, among others. Notably, relaying a brand story has grown in importance and recognition among businesses since it gained notoriety in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

One of the early promoters of storytelling for business purposes, Stephen Denning, started using it at the World Bank to capture and share knowledge. Since then, the effectiveness of storytelling has been proven across different functions for different goals.

Branding has been one of the most notorious uses of storytelling, and story-driven coffee packaging is one of its most interesting applications. Besides aromatic profile and high quality, one of the most interesting aspects of specialty coffee is traceability.

For this reason, coffee bags that convey a story tend to display information about the origin of the coffee. This may include the history of coffee growing in the region, altitude, and details about the producers. Moreover, it’s common practice to print the varietal and post-harvest processing.

Overall, coffee packaging design that reflects an accurate story can offer consumers a glimpse of different milestones across the coffee value chain.

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Sorcery coffee bag design: Highlighting West Africa

“I’ve always been fascinated by coffee and immediately gravitated towards roasting, so it was only natural for me to start up a roastery,” Alicia explains. Sorcery Coffee Roasters opened its doors in October 2019, and have been offering South African consumers specialty coffee sourced from regions such as Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Honduras. 

She explains the South African market, particularly in the city of Pretoria, is still quite new to specialty coffee. “It’s been a slow process of introducing higher quality coffees to our customers and having them understand why we charge what we do. It seems the notion of ‘coffee is coffee, is coffee’ is still the norm,” Alicia says. 

“However, we’ve been simply relentless in our mission, and we’ve built a loyal customer base over the years. Our customers really appreciate the quality of coffee we offer.” 

Sorcery’s coffee packaging design is a unique combination of Alicia’s love of coffee and the photographs she took while travelling through West Africa. 

“I’ve always had a deep love for Africa and its rich history. I knew there was a lot of potential, design-wise, with a West African theme. The design of our current coffee packaging is a collage of photographs I took on my travels in West Africa. Each one holds incredible sentimental value to me.”

Sorcery’s custom-printed coffee boxes feature photographs that showcase the unique cultures of the region. The photographs incorporate the scenery of the region, as well as locals in traditional dress.  

The images stand out beautifully on the small, square coffee boxes. The mix of vibrant reds, rich greens, and vibrant blues ensures the product stands out on shelves and on the brand’s social media platforms

“I knew that in order for us to stand out in the saturated specialty coffee market, our packaging would be essential,” Alicia explains. “It’s the first impression a customer has and what attracts them to pay attention to the product. I think it’s common knowledge that packaging sets the tone and can influence a customer’s perception of a product without them having to sample it.”

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What to consider when using images on coffee packaging

In addition to custom cardboard boxes, Sorcery Coffee also uses fully recyclable stand-up coffee pouches. These are white in colour, which makes the label featuring the photograph pop off the front of the bag. 

“Our bags have a rough matte finish, which provides them with a luxurious look and feel,” Alicia explains. “Plus, we only use recyclable plastic for our coffee bags, for obvious reasons. We want to assist in sustainable living in any way we can.” 

When it comes to using imagery to tell a story on your coffee packaging, Sorcery Coffee Roasters are a good example to follow. That said, the most important thing to remember is to make your brand story personal. Ensure that both your packaging and marketing speak to your unique identity. Be proud of your brand’s individuality, and the personalities of the people behind it. 

A growing number of consumers want to feel included in the knowledge, skill, and innovation the specialty coffee industry represents. You can use your packaging to let consumers know where their coffee came from, which invites them to be part of your community. 

Once, the sole purpose of packaging was to get coffee from origin to consumers. Now, it serves several roles, including marketing, preserving freshness, and telling a story. At MTPak Coffee, we can ensure your coffee packaging tells your story with crystal clear imagery, thanks to our innovative digital printing technology

Suitable for printing on both custom coffee boxes and flexible coffee bags, our investment in the HP Indigo 25K Digital Press means we have the ability to meet rapidly evolving roaster needs across a wide range of sustainable coffee packaging types, including compostable and recyclable bags.

Article images by Sorcery Coffee Roasters

For more information on custom-printed coffee packaging solutions, contact our team

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