Café Altura, the first organic coffee producer in the United States, rolls out updated branding and packaging as market changes dictate new look to entice coffee consumers. Begun in the late 1970’s when a group of organic enthusiasts gathered in Ojai CA to live and work on a 75-acre farm in order to ranch organically and develop related businesses. By happenstance, a group of visitors told them a story of a farm in Mexico that had been growing coffee using organic and biodynamic techniques. They traveled to Chiapas and began importing the beans, becoming the first company in the U.S. to sell organically grown coffee.
Thirty-plus years later, Café Altura’s commitment has continued but intense new competition in the space has presented sales challenges and, part of the problem, the branding had not been updated since the 1980s. Design firm Mark Oliver, Inc. (MOI) — long specializing in food and beverage consumer packaged goods — was hired to create new branding and packaging to showcase the organic origins of the coffee, improve quality and value perceptions, and increase the line’s in-store visibility. The design had to work with whole bean, ground and instant products for more than 80 SKUs. In addition, Chris Shepherd, CEO and co-founder, asked the design team to “focus on the firm’s authenticity, the real ‘story’ behind the product; on organic or natural, pure, simple and clean ingredients; on the quality of the beans sourced from family farms; and on a great taste experience.”
To set Cafe Altura further apart, the designers created a position statement and tagline: “Rain Washed, Sun Dried, Air Roasted.” This was an essential selling point that no one else was using. New labels create a narrative of the company history with text and specific visual cues. An illustration of a farmer tending his coffee trees anchors the concept visually while an “Aztec-style” pattern background is used in the panels and a badge announces the type of coffee and its condition. The new look continues to rollout nationally. Shepherd notes, “The packaging is beginning to have the desired effect. It is a tough market environment, but, all things considered, we’re now well-prepared for the challenge.”