The Importance Of Good Design In Good Coffee
A manifesto for why design matters
Does good design make our coffee taste any better? Probably not. Despite the recent research into coffee cup colour and it's effect on taste perception (really, read it here)
What extraordinary design does for extraordinary coffee, is it allows the cup to be seen and tasted. Wanted. If no-one is interested and seduced by a potential experience, why would they bother trying our relationship sourced micro-lots? When would our effort into profile roasting get tried by more than a handful of locals and people chancing by? What would the point be in cupping and evaluating every single roasted batch of coffee by our team be? Why bother with a Barista School?
Great design is at many levels, and brand and branding are not a way for a marketing team to justify their continued employment.The brand is everything. From the music played in store to the store itself.
Now we got lucky at Truth. Our HQ has won a number of design accolades. The most recent, last night, in fact, was the acquisition by Haldane Martin of a Gold Loerie Award for his design of our HQ.
And that was a stroke of luck. Haldane and I were working on an unrelated project and wandering about the V&A waterfront one day, around 2011 when he turned to me and said: "you know what you are David? Steampunk" and in a moment of epiphany, I knew what we had to do, find a place and a way to build it.
In 2012 we found an under cared for 1898 Victorian three storey with the right bones and went about acquiring it. Removing aluminium shop fronts, dropped ceilings, and lino floors. More importantly, Haldane began designing. Meeting with us, and re-designing. Until we had something worth building. The design was built on style. But more importantly, on practicality. And even more importantly, upon our philosophies.
There were other people involved in the concept, and there continue to be. Collaboration is how we go forward, standing upon those great shoulders. From Graham Viney considering the appropriateness of our "new" steel shopfronts to Chris Jones and his fabulous coffee contraption. And the uniforms, lest we forget them, the Little Hattery has remained involved in our Steampunk uniforms.
And that is what has won the awards.
Design does not stop there from the cups and packaging and this very website by Maya Liepaz, to our logo, started by Stephanie De Villiers and evolved by Maya. One thing has remained intact. Design and functionality, preceded by philosophy and deep understanding of the brand.
Is this always a happy, easy process? No. Mediocrity is easy. Loving and living your brand is hard. It takes courage and relentless determination, and at times argument with those you love and trust until something right is forged from a mess of swarming ideas and desires.
But it is worth it. Because the accolades put bums on seats. And bums on seats order and drink coffee. And that experience, if holistically loved, becomes a story they tell. And if they story is repeated, more bums on seats, more inquisitive minds asking if our coffee really is better...
...and that gets more people loving our coffee.
And that is what makes it all worthwhile.
Thank you to all the designers and artists who have been involved, there are much more, that I have failed to mention due to some tip of the hat to brevity, your sweat and at times, blood, invested in our dream has not been forgotten.