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Studio MPLS Designs Type-Forward Branding and Packaging For Sola Coffee Co.

by Rudy Sanchez on 08/02/2023 | 3 Minute Read

The Minnesota North Shore stretches Lake Superior's coastline between Duluth and the Canadian border. Minnesota State Highway 61, once part of US 61 (of Bob Dylan fame), runs along the cobblestone beach of the North Shore and continues to provide a scenic drive along one of the Great Lakes.

Those scenic drives along the coastal highway are part of the inspiration behind Studio MPLS's branding and packaging design for the upcoming North Shore coffee shop Sola Coffee Co. The type-forward approach gets balanced with an earthy color palette that works for various coffee blends and roasts, some of which have very different flavor profiles from far-flung regions worldwide.


“Besides simply making a memorable brand, we wanted to build an eclectic mix of imagery that makes the brand feel like the dozens of roadside flea markets and pie shops in the area,” said Brent Schoepf, senior designer at Studio MPLS. “It was important that each package felt authentic and unique but cohesive with the whole brand.”


Craft coffee drinkers are willing to pay a premium for carefully sourced roasted beans and want to know more about the origin of what they’re brewing. The country of origin isn’t enough either; the estate often identifies beans. Tasting notes are also an expectation. Studio MPLS used vintage-styled typography, using crisp and legible bespoke typefaces, especially on small bags of roasted coffee. Sola’s packaging also uses geometric shapes and patterns, contrasting and complimentary colors that use the natural texture of the bag’s substrates for an added, attractive visual effect.


Schoepf explains that extensive use of custom typography wasn’t the original plan. "Due to the nature of their coffee names and info, we stumbled upon highlighting some of that mundane information, which ended up being the driving force behind all of it," he said. "It wasn't intentional initially, but we're glad it happened.”


Besides vintage, small-town, handpainted signs along the highway, Brent said he also found inspiration in an unexpected childhood memory. “There was a specific tag on the inside of a flammable sleeping bag I grew up using that kickstarted the whole thing. I have no idea what it actually looked like, but in my head, one of these coffee labels captured it well.”


Few things accompany a wonderfully brewed cup of coffee better than having an incredible vista similar to the view along Minnesota’s State Highway 61, but Studio MPLS's identity for Sola Coffee Co. tries its gosh-darndest to equal that visual delight.