A. Back in the day
Back in 2015-2016 I was living and working in the East Village in New York. There was this tiny specialty coffee place called The Roost right next to my apartment building. That's where I got introduced to the concept of Speciality coffee and the NY coffee scene. Something about the buzzing coffee scene environment that stayed with me even after coming back to Belgium. From the nostalgia of that feeling of great coffee surrounded with great people.
Sketching out initial ideas
It was early days for specialty coffee in Brussels. There were very few spots where you could enjoy good coffee. And I remember thinking, I want to do something with coffee, and Brussels is my city, so let’s do it here. That’s when Wide Awake was born.
Experimenting on a A Huky 500T roaster at home.
Since the specialty coffee scene in Brussels wasn’t a big thing yet and the industry can be quite complex and intimidating, the mission was simple i.e. to make great coffee accessible, truly transparent and fun for everyone. We were setting up the first roastery in Rue de Flandre, where you’ll now find our brew bar. We had all these great coffees coming in, these amazing micro lots. But we started thinking, how do we communicate the complexity of these great coffees to our clients in a way that both highlights the producer’s work at origin and also makes it accessible in a way to people that might be fairly new to specialty coffee.
B. Easing out the complexity of speciality coffee
While specialty coffee is diverse, so are the palates of the consumer. That's when we came up with the “Find your Kick” series, aiming to create diverse profiles under different series that cater to a certain taste profile. All of them are inspired by pop culture references. For instance, our OG Strawberry Fields. With the spirit of the Beatles' iconic song the coffee always hosts sweet natural coffees full of red fruit, berry sweetness and velvety mouthfeel. Throughout the course of a year, we will have four or five different releases from Colombia, Ethiopia, Rwanda, different origins. It allows us to bring a lot of different varieties and origins. Every release has its unique character, but they all follow a certain taste profile guidance. This gives our custies a reference point when choosing their next coffee. The series range from big & bold, to wild and funk.
Our Brew bar before we moved in at Danseart
Our first roaster Probat 5KG
C. Final result
In the past year we took our time to rethink our packaging. We’ve hooked up with Camille Renard from Zorro Studios to refresh our entire graphic identity and make our packaging more sustainable. We considered many different coffee pouch materials (compostable, biope, ld-pe) and came to the conclusion that at this point, mono plastic LD-PE offers the best compromise between environmental impact, strength and coffee preservation. The outer and inner elements of a Mono Plastic pouch are made of the same plastic (instead of 4 different plastic materials as is usually the case). This makes it possible to truly and fully recycle the bag.
For the labels, we designed an abstract and colorful graphic system where each of our 10 Series has a unique visual identity. We used a lot of bold organic patterns that really communicate the emotion and the flavor that the coffee gives you when you taste it for the first time.
Years down the line its nostalgic to see an idea with the intention to make great coffee accessible and transparent come to life in this beautiful format. There's so much to tell but we thought of starting with this little blog. A lot of work has gone into this and we’re very excited to bring this to you. We hope you will all love it!
Rutger & Wide Awake Crew