Stereoscope's Specialty Coffee Offers A New Perspective
by Chloe Gordon on 02/08/2023 | 4 Minute Read
Stereoscope is a specialty coffee roaster based in Los Angeles that believes its role is to preserve the intention of the farmer and to create unique flavour experiences. Specialty coffee is a term for the highest grade of coffee available. It disrupts the more commodity- focused trade of coffee and priorities taste, quality, creating unique experiences and fair relationships over low prices and standardisation in flavour.
With four locations in LA, Stereoscope’s ambition is to create a positive impact with the farmers and his local community, and to make the packaging be a manifestation of their philosophy.
Inspired by the etymology of Stereoscope and their practise, we saw the potential to look at coffee in a larger cultural and ecological context and attempt to offer a different perspective on this plant, recognising it as a living organism.
Coffee Arabica, also known as mountain coffee, is declared an endangered plant, and estimates indicate that its crops will reduce with up to 50% by 2050 as a result of climate change. The climate crisis is itself linked to colonialism and capitalistic structures working as an engine for the commodification of nature, supported by a global north worldview, considering nature a thing separate from us, placing humans in an elevated position over nature. Coffee, as a crop of colonialism, have inherited this "extractive" logic of living, and our intention is to create awareness about the future of the Arabica plant, making this beloved seed become a vehicle for a deeper understanding and care for ‘other-than-human’ life forms. We could say that the goal to decolonize coffee is the goal of Specialty coffee, to recognize coffee as a living plant, as the result of the invisible interconnection between everything. With this intention, we aimed to create a Stereoscope Cosmology.
The Stereoscope is an instrument that allows the viewer a dual perspective creating a bigger perception of depth. The founder of Stereoscope, Leif An, originally from Korea, introduced us to the brand mantra “In pursuit of depth and simplicity” explaining how seemingly opposite forces are complementary and interdependent in the natural world, in contrast with the global north’s leading philosophies of dualism that implies conflict between opposites. Stereoscopes ? dualistic vision of depth and simplicity is attuned to the cosmology of yin yang, in which the circle represents harmony, balance, duality, and the “void” representing the space before anything existed. Out of this void emerged the yin and yang, rotating together to begin the formation of our universe through the five elements (also called the Wu Xing) associated to the seasons and other aspects of nature.
To manifest this philosophy, we chose a typeface that didn’t have strong historical references, to not impose any cultural and historical heritage to the brand. We wanted the typography to feel alive and in constant flux, capturing the interconnectedness of things. The grotesque sans serif comprises 5 distinct widths combined randomly. The result has an air of irreverence and its emblematic of the five elements theory, the ever changing nature and the five principles considered to make each coffee unique. The coffee flower also has five petals. In the Stereoscope universe, coffee is recognized as a living plant and we gave it its own voice by writing a poem where the seeds are talking in first person on the coffee bags, made of 99,6% plant based material.
For the packaging, we created a custom designed box inspired by a mountain shape, associated to the high altitude typical of cultivation of Arabica. The boxes comes in four colors, all made of FSC certified paper embellished by a rounded foil blocking and a common text about Stereoscope vision. The boxes are delivered flat with a tear-off opening on the bottom of the box. The opening ritual is unique to the brand together with the card system for each coffee. Instead of the typical labeling system we created cards, without any glue, that are inserted in the box highlighting the essential information about the coffee through a ‘trigram’ shaped cut-out, inspired by the Bagua iconography. When removed from the box, the cards reveal more information about the farmers who cultivated the coffee. The subscription boxes are also customized, maintaining the iconic "mountain" shape for the 1- pack and creating a skewed rectangular shape for the 2-pack that challenge the standard shipping formats while taking advantage of the space efficiency of the prism shape.