In 2012, two enterprising bar owners, Tom Vincent and Rob Darby, joined the world of specialty coffee and embarked on a mission to elevate the experience for their discerning local clientele. What started as a small hobby-style journey in the East Midlands evolved into an unyielding obsession and 200 Degrees Coffee was born.
The pair discovered a passion for coffee that went deeper than the two of them could’ve ever anticipated. This inevitably drove the duo to dive into the alchemy of roasting their own coffee within the confines of a modest garage in the back streets of Nottingham.
Eventually, the 200 Degrees Coffee opened its first grand coffee shop in Nottingham in October 2014.
As of 2023, the brand stands as a testament to its unwavering dedication. 200 Degrees Coffee has 20 flourishing coffee shops nationwide and is anticipating the arrival of its 21st store in Liverpool this November. Additionally, the brand has opened seven esteemed barista schools across the UK and built a network of a robust clientele that encompasses numerous wholesale partners and business patrons nationwide.
With this brand expansion came the need for a refresh of the brand’s coffee bags and overall identity. As the decade anniversary of 200 Degrees Coffee approached, the team knew they needed a fresh new look to better fit the brand identity and match its ever-expanding company values.
To learn more about how 200 Degrees Coffee updated the look of its coffee bags, I spoke with the brand’s communications manager, Sinéad Beaven.
How to redesign coffee bags without losing brand identity
Statistics show there are over 8,000 branded coffee chains in the UK alone. With competition rising within the specialty coffee sector, 200 Degrees Coffee understood the importance of creating coffee bags that stood out to consumers.
The brand collaborated with brand consultancy group, 3800 Studio to build a brand new look for its coffee bags. 200 Degrees Coffee approached the studio with a clear idea of what it wanted and the personality the brand wanted to portray. Although drive, passion, and excitement led the team to an all-new brand overhaul, some challenges inevitably came about during the process.
“200 Degrees sells both retail and wholesale ranges,” Sinéad explains. “So, the challenge was to create an aesthetic that could be carried consistently across multiple products, including delivery-friendly flat subscription packages, 250g and 1kg retail bags, wholesale coffee, and Nespresso-compatible pods.”
“Identifying a sliding scale of coffee drinkers’ knowledge allowed us to define our audience more clearly, and tailor our packaging to match,” she adds. “Most of our customers are new explorers in the world of coffee, usually transitioning to 200 Degrees from one of the big three high-street brands in the UK or ubiquitous supermarket own-label coffee.”
While planning the brand’s refresh, 200 Degrees also had its hands full running 18 coffee shops throughout the UK. However, this allowed the team to introduce casual consumers to better coffee.
200 Degrees Coffee aims to break down the barriers that had previously alienated the brand or prevented it from expanding its consumers’ local specialty coffee experience. The team understood this required effective brand communication and a consistent visual voice and design. It had to be a genuine experience, not something that just needed to be checked off the never-ending checklist of things to do in business.
How to reflect your establishment through coffee bag design
“The 200 Degrees brand is understated and timeless,” Sinéad says. “This is reflected in the warm, cosy environment we’ve created in our shops. We’ve combined tactile spaces with solid wood tables, homely fireplaces, and thick slate countertops.”
“It feels like home, and more importantly, it feels like a place that has been crafted with care. The skill and workmanship in these creations are mirrored in the designs on our packaging, and they communicate the time and effort we put into making every bag of coffee, excelling in our craft,” Sinéad adds.
200 Degrees Coffee uses side gusset coffee bags that feature design flourishes that can be found in the brand’s shops. These include illustrations of ornate woodwork from original mantle pieces, some dating back to the 17th century, and floral William Morris-inspired wallpaper.
From the front, consumers are drawn in by the colourful labels on the brand’s ‘Guest Beans’ coffee bags, or the clever names of its ‘House Beans’. The logo sits neatly at the bottom, ensuring all the focus is on the roast roast profile and flavour notes.
The name of the brand is, in itself, unique. The team roasts its coffee at a slightly lower temperature than the normal of 200° Centigrade, as they find it yields a smoother and deeper taste. The brand then serves its coffee at around 200° Fahrenheit, so to them, the name made perfect sense.
Striving for sustainability: Upgrading packaging materials
In 2022, 200 Degrees Coffee committed to investing in sustainable coffee packaging. The brand met with suppliers, conversed with packaging companies, and landed on coffee bags made from low-density polyethylene (LDPE).
LDPE is a thermoplastic characterised by its properties as a thin, lightweight, and flexible material that can withstand temperatures of up to 80°C. Although it has a lower tensile strength than high-density polyethylene (HDPE), it is more resilient, making it a useful material for packaging items that require flexibility.
It’s most commonly found in films used to package goods. However, it is also used in the manufacture of plastic bags, tubing, and wash bottles, among other products.
What sets LDPE apart from traditional plastics is the ease and affordability with which it can be reused and recycled. Unlike polylactic acid (PLA) or kraft paper, LDPE takes roughly the same time to decompose as traditional plastics. Nevertheless, the absence of toxins when recycled makes it an eco-friendly alternative.
LDPE offers a good balance for specialty coffee roasters looking to move away from traditional plastics without the need to completely rethink their business models. It has similar characteristics to traditional plastics, including a long shelf life, but it is fully recyclable and easy to reuse. Sustainability efforts can go a long way. A 2022 survey found that almost 30% of buyers admitted to buying sustainable products more often.
At MTPak Coffee, we applaud any efforts made by specialty coffee roasters to reduce the environmental impact of their business. Therefore, we offer coffee businesses a range of 100% recyclable coffee packaging options that can be custom-printed to your business specifications.
Choose from renewable materials such as kraft paper, rice paper, or multilayer LDPE packaging with an environmentally friendly PLA lining, all of which minimise waste and contribute to a circular economy.
We can help you determine which sealing option is best, whether it be tin ties, loop zippers, tear notches, or ziplocks. All of our resealable features can be seamlessly integrated into our recyclable, compostable, and biodegradable coffee bags made from 100% recyclable materials. Furthermore, we offer a perfect solution for micro-roasters by providing low minimum order quantities (MOQ) on both recyclable and traditional options.
Images courtesy of 200 Degrees Coffee.