How to use shapes to create innovative designs for custom coffee bags

Sam Shipiti
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May 14, 2024
custom coffee bags, custom printed coffee bags, custom printed coffee packaging, custom coffee packaging, Birdy Coffee Co.

Standing out in a sea of spectacular coffee bag designs requires creativity. As the winner of the 2024 MTPak Coffee Packaging Design Awards, Birdy Coffee Co. has certainly displayed a creative flair by combining shapes to create truly remarkable custom coffee bags. 

The proverbial “love at first sight” has never been truer than in coffee packaging today. Product packaging is where the consumer experience begins, so the impression it creates must be positive and enticing. 

Notably, recent research shows that what customers see makes up 55% of first impressions. Ryan Walker, the co-founder of Birdy Coffee Co., has capitalised on this and demonstrates how imagery and colours on custom coffee bags can make or break the customer experience. 

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Creating a custom coffee bag design, shape by shape

Several studies show how packaging colour alone can increase brand visibility by 80%. However, the real magic occurs when colour is combined with the appropriate imagery and typography to create a standout package. 

Understanding this influenced Ryan’s decision to leave his previous partnership where the style of coffee and its presentation didn’t align with his vision.

“I really wanted our coffee and what it resembled to be soft, easy, and gentle to anyone who saw or tasted it,” Ryan says. A little over three and a half years ago, Birdy Coffee Co. was born, launching at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. “An opportunity arose to partner with a commonwealth of local breweries and other entrepreneurs to create a space of community and like-mindedness.”

Ryan believes that “Birdy” is a soft and gentle word. The name itself was inspired by his family’s love for birds. “We like to watch birds; we think they are fascinating animals. The name also came from a place of vulnerability,” he adds. “When choosing to leave our safe careers behind to become full-time coffee roasters, our courage, and strength came from a specific proverb [that mentioned birds].” 

To ensure consistency across the brand, Ryan chose colours and coffees that evoke the same feeling. “The colours we chose are soft, and even the coffees we have are usually pretty soft, gentle, and subtle.” 

There are few specialty coffee roasteries in Red Deer, Alberta, where the brand is based. “There are not enough light roasted, unique coffees”, Ryan adds, so Birdy Coffee has emphasised this on its coffee bags, as well as the farmers and the regions the coffee is from. 

Each custom coffee bag showcases a different bird and colour to differentiate the coffee inside. “Coffee is meant to be fun,” Ryan says. “We wanted to create something unique, something that the customer enjoys buying and delights in having on their shelf at home.

“Our design highlights who we are as Birdy Coffee Co: light-hearted and inviting, which is what we aim for,” Ryan adds. “All the birds on our custom coffee bags were created by our own manager and graphic designer, bit by bit. They’ve been put together shape by shape so that each little detail, be it a circle, rectangle, or triangle, fit in collaboration to make each bird.”

In a few months, the brand will unveil its new takeaway coffee cups, the design of which conveys a similar theme as the bags. 

“They’re going to be simpler than the bags, but the colours will be the same: fun and gentle to look at,” Ryan explains. As for the materials, he reveals the brand has invested in double wall cups that are biodegradable or recyclable. This ensures the cups can be tossed into composting or recycling bins. 

custom coffee bags, custom printed coffee bags, custom printed coffee packaging, custom coffee packaging, Birdy Coffee Co.

Creating a relatable brand logo 

Ryan admits that he wanted customers to look at Birdy’s custom coffee bags and think, “That’s fun!” He also wanted them to recognise what they were looking at. To do that, he, along with his brother and the rest of his team, researched other packaging and came to a realisation. 

“There simply wasn’t enough of a sense of fun,” he explains. As a coffee brand, Birdy Coffee did not want to be seen as overly serious. So, what followed was putting together visual elements that would convey it as a fun and relatable brand. 

“We wanted to have fun and make people excited about putting our coffee bags on their shelves at home,” he adds. 

Originally, the team wanted its custom coffee bags to show the national bird of the coffee’s origin country. However, they soon realised that most countries have a bird of prey as their national bird, which didn’t quite align with the brand’s desired imagery. 

“To make it simple, we just picked birds that were either fun or exciting to design.” Ryan insists there’s really no correlation between the bird and the coffee outside of the fact that if it’s an exotic bird, say toucan, parrot, or tropical bird, there may be some unique tropical-style coffee in that bag. “We tried to pair the bird with the style of coffee that’s in there,” he adds. 

A good example would be the brand’s dark series blend, which has a vulture on the front. It is Birdy’s most bold, intense coffee–basically a version of what Birdy Coffee thinks a good dark roasted coffee should be.

custom coffee bags, custom printed coffee bags, custom printed coffee packaging, custom coffee packaging, Birdy Coffee Co.

Should your coffee brand follow suit? 

Custom coffee bags speak to customers, set brands apart from the pack, and help to build a name in a market that is overflowing with coffee options. It’s a familiar story even at Birdy Coffee Co.

“A majority of people who don’t know who we are and see us for the first time are intrigued by the branding,” Ryan says. He adds that branding is a big part of the packaging, and right from the start, the brand wanted the two to work cohesively.

Together with his brother, Ryan spent almost four months going through half a dozen options before finding the perfect bag for the brand. However, with the initial design in place, creating subsequent packaging has been easy. “[Our designer] can pretty much do a new bag in about a day or 4 to 6 hours when he’s fully dedicated to it because he enjoys it,” Ryan says.

His advice to coffee roasters and other businesses trying hard to create designs for their custom coffee bags is not to rush the process. “You don’t have to feel like your design process must have a deadline; let it happen naturally,” he concludes. 

Learn more about the finalists of the 2024 MTPak Coffee Packaging Design Awards, check out our winners, or read our exclusive interview with Artisan Roast Coffee Company, the brand that actively contributes to a circular economy by delivering coffee by bicycle. 

Images courtesy of Birdy Coffee Co.

For more information on custom coffee bags, contact our team

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Sam Shipiti
Sam Shipiti

Born and raised in Kenya, a country famous for growing top grade coffee, Sam’s unique perspective is deeply rooted in his heritage. His writing journey has seen him contribute to magazines and coffee blogs, and work for global marketing agencies, honing his craft and establishing a strong voice in the industry. He now focuses on uncovering the unique stories and innovations fuelling the specialty coffee revolution.

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