Post 001 - Stumptown Cold Brew Coffee
This will hopefully be the first of many posts about new projects, completed work, general happenings, rants, raves, plus all the crap you typically see on blogs, so if you happen to be reading this, first and foremost, thank you. I hope you find something here that resonates with you on some level.
I worked for Stumptown Coffee Roasters for almost 4 years as Creative Director, Art Director, Designer, social media manager, IT helper, and in several other loosely defined roles. It was without a doubt, the most challenging working experience I've ever had. I started just months before Stumptown was purchased by private equity partner TSG, in spring of 2011. We worked out of a tiny house behind the original Division St. café, all essential HQ functions were crammed into every crevice of that house, along with 5-7 dogs. Over the next few years the company exploded in growth, and we moved to industrial SE Portland, into the current HQ.
I feel very fortunate to have been a fly on the wall during that period (especially for a company with such cryptic communications to outsiders), and to have experienced what its like to work for a company (so closely tied to the community), as it's acquired by PE, and witness those changes, for good and bad. It's not something many people get to be a part of. Not to mention, you throw the general "anti" attitudes towards large capital, prevalent in Portland, and you have a recipe for "WTF?!" on a daily basis.
I'm also very fortunate to have been able to contribute in a such a direct way to the Stumptown's growth. I think firstly, it needs to be said that Duane, OMFGco., and other early "Stumptowners" laid the groundwork for what people recognize as the "Stumptown" aesthetic. I had a role in helping expand that visual dialogue into new product lines, like Cold Brew, brew gear, camp coffee, new café identities, etc. However, the thing that made Stumptown so unique early on, was the fact, nobody else was really doing what they were doing. Today, coffee culture and the aesthetic launched by Stumptown, has been co-opted, and used a guide post of differentiation in the market. For example, I suspect James Freeman of Blue Bottle probably looked at Stumptown and chose to pursue the exact opposite direction for his brand, in terms of visual identity and creating brand DNA. Cue 2015, and there are thousands of independent roasters, distinguishing their brands in relation to what was established by these pioneering companies. Literally, a dime a dozen...
Which leads us to Cold Brew. Cold Brew was launched weeks before I came on board to help lead the design efforts in 2011. Brewed originally with help from a craft distillery in SE PDX, this stuff was crude, unfiltered, and probably a cousin in chemical makeup to an elicit street drug... a true work in progress. But it took off and never looked back. As the product expanded, the first iteration of the Stubby showed its limitations in readability, and its difficulty to expand into a cohesive product line. In Fall 2013, Cold Brew with milk was conceived as an experiment, and I spearheaded the design efforts to create what I called
"a chocolate milk carton for adults". It needed to look like Stumptown, even though the product was definitely at risk for being perceived as "off brand". Luckily, the product turned out to be delicious, and was embraced by customers, old and new alike, due to thoughtful and restrained used of color and type. In the Summer of 2014, I decided to part ways with Stumptown, in order to start my own design business, and work outside SCR on a full rebrand and update of Cold Brew. The following work is the result of those efforts, culminating in probably my favorite of all the CB products, Cold Brew Nitro in a can.