The colorful coffee roaster incentivizes customers to return their used coffee bags for discounts and free beans.
BY ANA MALLOZZI
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
Photos courtesy of Brandywine Coffee Roasters
I don’t remember exactly how a bag of coffee from Brandywine Coffee Roasters first came into my hands, but I do remember it … because I still have the bag. I loved the hot pink Brontosaurus screen-printed on it so much, I couldn’t bring myself to throw it out.
I am not the only person who has felt this way about Brandywine’s unique screen-printed bags. Their Creative Director Todd Purse was working as a freelance artist when he got the opportunity to lead Brandywine’s creative department. “Hand-printed bags were the first thing I thought of,” recalls Todd, who was excited by the idea of each coffee getting its own artistic representation, similar to the gig posters he was used to making for bands.
Through screen printing, Todd is able to create one-of-a-kind images inspired by each coffee, and he can also control the process without common production restraints. Today, Brandywine prints close to 3,000 bags a week, still all by hand on the rig that Todd built years ago. He creates the artwork as always, but now has help from Head Printer Spencer Williamson and other members of the team when it’s extra busy.
From day one, figuring out how to repurpose the bags was on Brandywine’s radar. Customers have always acknowledged how special and personalized the bags feel, and they have said it’s hard to throw them out once they’ve enjoyed the coffee inside. Inspiration struck when Carla Logue, a barista at Brandywine wholesale account Story and Soil, sent over upcycled pouches she made from used Brandywine coffee bags; the rest is history.
The Brandywine Upcycle Rewards Program (B.U.R.P) launched in May 2019; the incentive program encourages customers to return their Brandywine coffee bags for rewards. Bringing in five bags earns folks a 6-ounce bag of exclusive coffee; 10 bags earn the 6-ounce coffee bag and a B.U.R.P sticker and button; and 20 bags earn them that same 6-ounce bag and 10% off their next Brandywine coffee order. Participants will also feel great knowing the bags won’t end up in the landfill, but instead get donated to artists who use upcycled materials in their artwork.
Embracing independent artists even further, Brandywine also started the Brandywine Artist Showcase, a program Todd created to feature guest artists on special coffee offerings. “I’m using this opportunity to hire some deserving freelance creatives the way I would have wanted to be hired when working full-time freelance,” he explains. “My goal is to let the artists we work with know that we will pay whatever their full-time rate is, no negotiating, no time frame, etc.” The first artist he showcased was Ramin Nazer; Todd aims to highlight artists he finds inspirational, and that he thinks the coffee community will appreciate as well. To learn more about B.U.R.P, head on over to Brandywine’s website.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ana Mallozzi has worked in the coffee industry for the past seven years in a variety of roles for roasteries big and small on the East and West Coasts. Currently, she does operations for Granny Squibb’s, a local and organic iced tea company based in Providence, R.I.