Custom coffee bags: Exploring simplicity in design 

Holly Szakal
December 12, 2023
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For millions of people around the world, coffee is an essential tool that brings communities together. Never has this been more true than for Ally Walsh and Casey Wojtalewicz, the co-founders of Canyon Coffee

When they met, Casey was a touring musician and Ally was a model: careers that kept them apart for weeks on end. Coffee became an essential part of keeping them connected. Whenever the pair were in a new place, they’d explore local cafes and coffee roasters. Then, one would send custom coffee bags to the other. 

During the rare times the pair were together, they’d cherish the simple ritual of making each other coffee and enjoying their shared passion. This sparked a passion in Casey, who decided he wanted to thrive in the specialty coffee industry in Los Angeles.

I spoke with Ally Walsh and Casey Wojtalewicz about the launch of Canyon Coffee. More so, we discuss how the brand’s simple custom coffee bags showcase its values.

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Defining your brand in the specialty coffee industry 

Casey landed his first job as a barista at Bar Nine, a small roaster in Culver City. He then met James Klapp, a coffee roaster who has worked with Ultimo and then La Colombe in Philadelphia. With help from James, Casey went on to become a barista at Menotti’s in Venice Beach: which was then managed by World Latte Art Champion Christopher ‘Nicely’ Alameda

Fueled by a vision to redefine the landscape of specialty coffee, the two established their own coffee company. Leveraging James’ ability to roast after hours, Canyon Coffee was born, and things started with a bang.

The brand hosted a pop-up in Venice in October 2016. Following the success of its online store and wholesale production, Canyon Coffee opened its first physical coffee shop in August 2022.

When Canyon Coffee launched, Ally and Casey felt consumers did not prioritise or stress the importance of fair-trade coffee and sustainability the way they do today. The expectations to adhere to ethical practices and eco-friendly packaging weren’t nearly as high. This bothered the duo, who knew from the start that they wanted to implement fair trade into the business.

At the time, brands known for high-quality coffees were less concerned about organic certification. From their perspective, Casey and Ally felt this wasn’t supportive of farmers who were making the effort to go fully organic. 

The pair felt coffee represented something special and warm. However, much of the branding in the specialty coffee industry at that time felt cold, industrial, and impersonal. Both Casey and Ally wanted to support local, organic, and eco-friendly practices. Additionally, they were committed to providing customers and cafes with organic certification right from the start. Casey explains they wanted customers to feel proud of serving or drinking coffee that had a moving backstory. 

Equally, they agreed they needed to have a brand design that communicated this passion for sustainability to the masses.

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Designing custom coffee bags for online sales

Canyon Coffee started as an online store and wholesale supplier. Therefore, Casey and Ally understood the critical role packaging design plays in communicating brand values with consumers around the world. 

Their shared vision became a direct byproduct of the packaging design. Canyon Coffee uses kraft paper coffee bags because of the materials’ approachability and versatility. Plus, it has the added benefit of being both recyclable and compostable. Investing in kraft paper coffee packaging can lower the environmental impact of a business and showcase a commitment to a circular economy.

“The labels applied to our custom coffee bags were stretched from the front and placed over the back of the bag after it was sealed and folded with a tin tie,” Casey explains. “The labels were perforated. We made sure to match them up with the point where there was a gap between the fold and the back of the bag. This made it easy for customers to tear the label to open the bag.”

In terms of the design of the bag, the original look featured the gold foil river, which Casey explains “came from the imagination of our friend and designer, Fred L’Ami (aka Studio L’Ami).” He adds that the brand chose to use the sans-serif font because of its smooth and rounded appearance. 

“We used a serif font called Amsterdammer to incorporate a design element that reminded us of the font often used in botanical or scientific drawings of plants. To us, this was a nod to the science and study of coffee as a species of plant,” Casey adds. 

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Adjusting custom coffee bag design as your business grows

Sometime after the brand’s launch, Casey and Ally discovered their original coffee packaging design posed production challenges and became time intensive. To fix this, the pair partnered with Studio L’Ami again. 

The new packaging design features a colour palette inspired by a vintage Joshua Tree postcard. The brand decided to be bold with the colour palette to add further depth, drawing attention to the Southern California landscape.

Once the look was decided, Canyon Coffee also invested in new kraft paper coffee bags. “To us, it was important to find a product that would protect the coffee for its shelf life but biodegrade in a short amount of time,” Casey says. 

“We were wary of packaging that claimed to be compostable but was only so in industrial composting facilities since these are very far and few in between.” The brand has invested in flat bottom coffee bags made with kraft paper and polylactic acid (PLA). 

Flat bottom pouches have become a popular choice among specialty coffee roasters as they are manufactured with less material when compared to other designs. They’re also lightweight and take up little room when empty, which translates into lower carbon emissions when transported.

Beyond this, when full, flat bottom pouches can hold significantly more coffee than other designs, such as stand-up pouches, making them a cost-effective option as well as a sustainable one.

At MTPak Coffee, specialty coffee roasters can choose from a selection of sustainable materials for their flat bottom coffee pouches, including kraft paper, rice paper, LDPE, and PLA. Thanks to its innovative design, a flat bottom pouch can hold a large amount of coffee, which makes them perfect for substantial orders.

We also offer fully customisable packaging that allows you to take advantage of all five sides of the bag. You can choose from a range of materials, plus a selection of features, including degassing valves, transparent windows, and resealable zippers.

Images courtesy of Canyon Coffee

For more information on custom coffee bags, contact our team

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