Dean’s Beans Coffee

Admin

Global

Design: BRIGADE
Location: United States
Project Type: Produced
Client: Dean’s Beans
Product Launch Location: Global
Packaging Contents: Coffee
Packaging Substrate / Materials: Plastic

Amplifying the global impact of a mission-driven coffee company

Dean’s Beans came to us for a refresh of their retail coffee bags. Aesthetically, we honored the brand’s reputation as a specialty coffee roaster that is a vehicle for progressive change, and we did it in a way that honored the 60’s spirit of love and unity — with colorful, hand-illustrated patterns inspired by art from around the world. Using concentric patterns, we focus the consumer’s eye on a hand offering up a coffee cup, as a nod to the partnership required to move the coffee beans from seedlings to brew.

After more than 30 years as a leader in the organic, fair-trade coffee space, Dean’s Beans came to BRIGADE for a refresh of their retail coffee bags. As our team developed new bag designs, we found ourselves on a journey that wound up solving for a larger assignment. The end deliverable here is not just beautifully-illustrated coffee bags, but a collaborative reimagining of how Dean’s Beans is able to effectively tell their story, propel their mission and help empower communities around the world.

Throughout Dean’s Beans company history, the brand’s story has been focused on the owner, Dean Cycon. And for good reason. Dean has been on the forefront of social change in the coffee world since he began over two decades ago. Yes, his coffee is certified organic, fair trade, and kosher, roasted in small batches in Orange, MA. But Dean is on a mission to push good further. He forms long-term relationships with his coffee growers, he holds himself to higher standards than fair trade, and he believes that his farmers should benefit from coffee sales in the form of micro-loans, healthy environments, and woman-empowerment initiatives (to name a few). Many companies make similar claims, but Dean’s quietly became the first and only coffee company to be awarded by the UN for its practices. He has even invented a new economic model called “Buy High, Sell Low” for which he has been recognized internationally (even fewer brands even try to claim that).

The thing is – Dean wasn’t clearly talking about this story. He didn’t even tell us about his awards from the UN. After all, when you’re so busy enacting real change – and when you’ve been on that mission since the 1960’s – it often takes an outside perspective to help you help yourself. So once we knew Dean, we knew his mission needed to be told more clearly on the bags.

Our assignment started with trying to figure out how to manage 30+ roasts and SKUs for a business built around moderation and cutting out waste. Our solution was to design a series of SKU-specific stickers that would go onto the front and back of two bags – a bag for single-origin roasts and a bag for the coffee blend (as a part of telling his story, ‘regional blends’ were rebranded ‘multi-origin’). Even on each SKU-specific sticker, we reserved space to not just detail the coffee attributes, but tell Dean’s larger coffee story – from Cooperative Names and Partnership Length to Community Initiatives and yes, even the United Nations award (which we finally convinced Dean to embrace).

Aesthetically, we wanted to honor the brand’s reputation as a specialty coffee roaster that is a vehicle for progressive change throughout the world – and we wanted to do it in a way that honored the 60’s spirit of love and unity that sparked Dean’s life-long quest in the first place. To infuse Dean’s personality into the bags we used a visual tone inspired by 60’s street art — an aesthetic based on a revolutionary form of love. We used colorful, high-contrast, hand-illustrated patterns inspired by art from around the world to honor the cultural origins of Dean’s coffee farmers. Using concentric patterns, we focus the consumer’s eye on a dramatic hand (one for single-origin bag and two for the multi-origin bag) offering-up a coffee cup, as a nod to the partnership required to move the coffee beans from seedlings to the brew found in coffee cups around the globe. We didn’t want hands to feel culturally-specific, so we made a patchwork of colors and shapes to suggest an international love and bond. (Looking for the love? Look at the steam rising from the coffee mug on the multi-origin bag.)

In addition to the artwork of the bags, we wrote and used copy to tell Dean’s story. While some brands become ‘mission purchases’ – all mission, no quality – we wanted to highlight elements of Dean’s mission which spoke to the quality and artistry of his coffee as well as the quality of his mission. When you look at the story depicted on these bags through that lens, you will see that each side panel has a different goal – and the ring of illustrations on the back of the bag balances quality and good in just the same way. It’s all tied together with the slogan residing on each side of the hand graphic, “Brew great coffee, create real change.”

The result of all of this is an authentic and dynamic design that we truly hope honors every visionary, worker, dreamer, and community member involved in this coffee’s creation and journey. We were honored to work on this project and can’t wait to see Dean’s mission expand further into the world.