Esselon Image.jpg

Article originally published on on August 28, 2017. Article written by Natalie Mouradian.


BRIGADE draws upon local imagery to craft a strategic new brand identity and packaging design for the popular Massachusetts café, Esselon. The design features striking linework illustrations and colorful labels that pop off of the white of each bag, indicating the origin of the coffee.

"Esselon is a much-loved local coffee roaster that came to BRIGADE for a serious brand makeover. The celebrated roastery and café has built a loyal following on the quality of its product—artisanal, small-batch coffee with an emphasis on Direct and Fair Trade. The company grew up with a rustic, simple look and a two-color design scheme. Esselon was ready to take it to the next level and was looking to achieve a new brand identity they described as desirable, clean, and refined.

'Elegance without being elegant,' is how the Esselon team put it. We love it when our clients challenge us with a design framework that seems contradictory (and yes, we knew exactly what they meant!)."


Esselon Image 1.jpg


Esselon approaches every stage of their production with meticulous care: sourcing the best green coffee beans available within their product price-point, and “cupping” (individually brewing and tasting) to ensure their target quality is met.

Another unique feature of Esselon is that they roast their coffee on-site in their café, in Hadley, Massachusetts. The café itself is in an iconic local spot, located on a busy road at the intersection of several college towns, yet backing up to lovely farmland. Passersby are delighted to discover this not-so-hidden treasure.

'Esselon’s café is a meeting ground—a place where people come together to discuss ideas, share conversation, and practice their daily coffee rituals,' explains Designer Steve Oparowski. 'We knew we wanted to feature the art of roasting and the science behind the perfect cup, and create a package design that would leverage the café’s local reputation for potential national exposure.'”

"The BRIGADE team set out to capture Esselon’s new identity with a bag that would stand out on-shelf and encourage local grassroots brand growth while driving potential presence in national chains. Could we fit all that on one 16 oz. bag? Designer Steve Oparowski, Executive Creative Director Kirsten Modestow, Design Director Jan Šabach, and Associate Creative Director Joe Marden tackled the challenge.

'Capturing the iconic Esselon café meant capturing the vibe of Hadley. I tried to create an accurate representation of the Seven Sisters mountain range, which forms the backdrop of the town' explains Steve. 'I love it when I get to pull out the pencil and paper and start with a sketch.'”

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