Meet the designer behind new Starbucks Reserve artwork

by Michelle Flandreau | May 25, 2016
HOME People Meet the designer behind new Starbucks Reserve artwork

A new kind of coffee culture is growing in south-central Colombia. The Café Mujeres program at the CooCentral Co-op in Huila is empowering women to produce coffee including a new Starbucks Reserve® coffee available exclusively through our Roastery subscription.

"This program has opened our eyes. Before, we were in the house. We made the food for all the workers, but we didn’t have the opportunity that we have now," said participant Nelcy Vargas. "We’ve come to realize that coffee is something precious."

Hundreds of women have taken part since the program launched in 2014, according to Sustainable Harvest, a coffee supplier. They learn best practices for harvesting coffee, along with fermentation and drying. Now, the women say they’re able to access higher prices for their coffee.

"We didn’t used to have the freedom and knowledge that we have now," Vargas said.

More than 40 women from the program recently produced Starbucks Reserve® Colombia Café Mujeres. It’s offered exclusively in June through the Starbucks Reserve® Roastery subscription program.

"Their lives are actually transformed by coffee, which is pretty powerful," said Mia Gerbino, a Starbucks senior designer. These women inspired her as she was creating the artwork featured on this coffee bag.

"My goal with this card is to really honor them and their story," Mia said.

When Mia first started working on the artwork back in February, she created a concept board, similar to a Pinterest board. In addition to the women, she found inspiration in the vibrant colors and terrain of Colombia.

"In Colombia, there are these beautiful wax palm trees that span heights of 200 feet. They overlook the terrain of the country. And for me, this was really symbolic because I see these trees and I think of the women," Mia described.

From there, she drew every element of the artwork separately, using a brush pen and tracing paper. She scanned each piece into her computer, giving her more control over the composition. Because there are many rounds of reviews during the design process, Mia says it’s nice to have the flexibility to adjust the art.

"We look at every little piece. Even though this is a 3x5 card, you know, it’s like this mini work of art...we critique everything. We always ask ourselves, is this right?" Mia explained. "We want the artwork to really reflect the culture and the feeling of this human story."

After about a month of design work and feedback, Mia’s artwork got the final approval.

"I got to see my vision come to life. It was really, really exciting," she said.

When people see the artwork on the Colombia Café Mujeres coffee bag, Mia hopes they feel proud and happy.

"I see the artwork kind of like a celebration of all that [the women have] become and that they’ve strived to do," Mia said.

She hopes to one day meet the women of Café Mujeres and congratulate them for all they’ve achieved.

Coffee Notes
Floral aromas with mandarin citrus notes and a creamy, smooth mouthfeel.

This is our June subscription exclusive. It’s expertly roasted in the Starbucks Reserve® Roastery & Tasting Room in Seattle, then shipped fresh within 48 hours. Subscribe by June 5, 2016 to receive this coffee.


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