Something's Brewing

September 1, 2004
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Something’s Brewing

Starbucks’ success has changed the coffee business forever. In an attempt to emulate the king coffee chain’s “third place” experience, marketers of packaged coffees have joined forces with appliance makers to sell one- or two-cup brews of rich and flavorful coffee.
These new coffee apparatuses resemble espresso machines much more than traditional drip-style coffeemakers. The single- or dual-cup devices look elegant on the counter and become part of the kitchen décor.
But most of the packaging for these specialty coffee products pales in comparison.
Senseo coffee from Sara Lee comes in a gable-top bag. Although the bag has a unique shape and bears colorful graphics, it’s not a package that consumers will likely leave out on their kitchen counters next to their Phillips coffee machine.
Sara Lee missed a big opportunity here to design the packaging using some of the structural and shape elements from the coffeemaker. This device’s primary visual appeal is its sloping cylinder.
The Senseo package could have complemented the machine’s design by using a tube-like shape. A tall, decorative metal “tin” offers one option for “premiumizing” this coffee package.
Another inspiring idea comes from shaped and fine-printed paperboard, such as the Hershey’s Swoops package. A paperboard or composite canister can accept embossing, foil stamping and other decorative treatments.
Package designs that are in harmony with the machines or exude home-décor qualities have a better chance of sitting out on the kitchen counter. This promotes greater product usage. Some progressive coffee marketers are taking cues from the wine industry to ratchet up the image of their offerings.
Sold through Whole Foods stores, Terrior Coffee comes in packaging that celebrates the bean’s origins. Photographs on the front of the copper-colored pouch show the farm or region where the coffee came from. This graphic approach emulates labels on fine wine.
Melitta USA is taking a similar tack with its Melitta World Harvest Estate Coffees. The three varieties come from private estates in Hawaii, Colombia and Costa Rica. Package illustrations and text showcase the estate.
But like Senseo, Melitta’s packaging for its One: One Java-pod coffee that brews in its single-serve machine misses the boat. The rectangular carton bears no relevance to the “altaresque” design of the coffeemaker.

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