The Client

Peace Coffee is a coffee roastary and distribution company based in Minneapolis, MN. 

In their words: "Peace Coffee's mission is to make exceptional-tasting, organic fair-trade coffee that sustains the livelihoods of the people who grow, roast, and sell it; preserves and protects the environment that produces it; and delights the taste buds of those who drink it."

The Users

Regular coffee drinkers primarily 24-35. 

The PROblem

Peace Coffee has is very intentional about their supply chain and seek to be transparent about where their coffee comes from.  However, they are challenged with how to get this information to customers.

Mel Meegan, Director of Marketing, and Ryan Brown, Community Manager, presented me with this problem and asked that I find solutions to increase the transparency of Peace Coffee's supply chain.


My Approach

To begin my research, I turned to the touch points customers have with Peace Coffee. If a person wanted to learn more about Peace Coffee they could go to the website, look at the packaging, visit the cafe, or tour the roastery.  Although the website had a wealth of meaningful content, the supply chain specific information was either buried throughout the site or not present at all.  This provided a clear area of opportunity.  In order to be transparent about their supply chain, Peace Coffee would have to make the information available to users.


For secondary research, I read through the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) 2016 Report and noted their findings of what words and concepts resonated with users.  My competitive analysis included a high level content inventory of Blue Bottle, Stumptown and Counter Culture Coffee's websites. I pulled out value phrases, highlighted features and product focus. Along with interviewing Peace Coffee employees, I looked through their 2016 brand report and noted their findings with brand recognition and user values.  I wrote all of these things on sticky notes as a reminder of what users cared about, according to these different sources. 

After client interviews, competitive analysis, and secondary research, I identified all of the characters in the existing supply chain and dug into their stories. Focusing in on how Peace Coffee's supply chain was unique helped me to start crafting a compelling, engaging and meaningful narrative. I compiled this narrative into a low-fidelity journey map and started plans for a wireframe. 

I now understood the information Peace Coffee wanted available to their customers and I understood what was currently available. However, I wanted to know more about the individuals that drink Peace Coffee. Who are they? What do they already know (or think they know) about the coffee supply chain? What is their experience and associations with coffee?

Diary Study

To answer some of these questions, I set up a diary study. I arranged for 7 participants to write a small diary entry each time they drank coffee for 3 days.  After the three days, the participants emailed their answers directly to me. I encouraged them to also take photos of their coffee experience. I provided the local participants with a pound of Peace Coffee as incentive. 

Journey Mapping

While my diary study was under way, I digitized my supply chain journey map. Once digitized, I imagined that personalizing the players in the supply chain might help customers connect and remember who was involved.  For the next iteration of the journey map, I used existing graphics from Peace Coffee to developed characters for each of the players in the supply chain. I worked these characters into the asset and simplified the graphic to draw attention to the characters and highlight the flow. 

Diary Study results

After the results of my diary study came in, I began to affinity diagram and synthesize the responses. People talked about 7 major buckets of information when asked about their coffee experience. Location, feelings, methods of brewing, flavors, environment/setting, company, and the supply chain. Although all 7 of these areas were touched on, the participants were overwhelmingly focused on feelings. People had a lot of feelings about their relationship to coffee, and it was apparent that participants had exactly that--a relationship. 


"I delight in putting the kettle on, grinding the beans and using my beautiful french press. Honestly, some nights, I am excited to go to sleep because I know coffee is awaiting me in the morning."


Results of the diary study. They are organized by content bucket. From left to right: Location, Feelings, Methods, Flavors, Supply Chain, Company, Environment/Setting.


Participants talked about coffee as if it was a companion, a support system, and a calming presence. Coffee helped participants set the scene. It created a safe, quiet space. In many diary entries, it was accompanied with windows, sunshine, mornings, chatting, friendship, and cool breezes. 

However, running parallel to this idyllic picture, participants talked about busy mornings that they were running out the door and how their coffee was a part of that. Even when people were running late, they managed to incorporate coffee into their routine.  Participants used words like chug and piping hot and they spoke of keurigs and thermoses. 

Feelings mentioned in the Diary Study.

"My thermos keeps the drink warm and makes me feel a bit more alive, a bit more able to think and process."

"The older I get, the less I like to do multiple things at once, like drink coffee and drive or text, or walk. It just makes me dizzy"

I discovered that coffee existed in two spaces: 

Pleasant & On the Move

Participants used coffee as a placeholder.  They either used it as a "pause" to set aside time and space to reflect on and experience the pleasant; or participants used coffee as a companion in the chaos

User Survey

Since customers had such strong associations between coffee and pleasantness, I wanted to find out where and what else was coexisting in users pleasant spaces and experiences.  

I organized a survey that asked coffee drinkers 4 questions

1. What are the first 6 words that you come to mind for the word pleasant? (Pink sticky notes)

2. What are 4 places in the Twin Cities you would describe as pleasant? (Blue sticky notes)

3. How do you feel when you are running late? (Yellow sticky notes)

4. What are the first 6 words that come to mind for the phrase "on the move"? (Orange sticky notes) 

I wrote all of the answers onto sticky notes and arranged them into groups to find trends. I proceeded to graph these findings to visually represent participants responses. 

My initial response to the diary study was to brainstorm ways for Peace Coffee to have a stronger presence in spaces that people associated with pleasantness or being on the move.  Perhaps if Peace Coffee carts was available in libraries, boutiques, and art museums as well as train stops, bike routes, and skyways users could have an increased positive response to the brand. Perhaps users would be more willing to learn about the supply chain in pleasant spaces, if they were provided the opportunity.  Maybe Peace Coffee could use the space holding effect of coffee to teach and win over users. 

However, my survey did not support these ideas. The spaces people thought of as pleasant were outside, free and oftentimes focused on tangible comforts in that space. A pop-up coffee cart or a bike coffee cart might intersect people pleasant and on the move journeys, but the connection wasn't obvious or dependable. Rather these survey results reinforced the idea that for many users, coffee was all about the feelings. The survey affirmed my concept of coffee as a space holder for the pleasant. 

With the research guiding me, I pivoted my focus from physical experiences (like a coffee cart or bike cart) to emotional experiences. I was interested in how the emotional coffee journey of users intersected the supply chain journey of Peace Coffee. 

Goal: Create a campaign that provides education and access to the Peace Coffee supply chain by connecting to users associations of coffee with pleasantness and being on the move.  Personify supply chain players as characters to connect to users, build brand recognition and avoid stereotypes.  Integrate characters into packaging, in-store experience and merchandise.

campaign Components

  • Create design concepts to inform future branding conversations.
  • Prototype 12 oz coffee packaging that features individuals from supply chain.
    • Incorporate feeling notes
  • Incorporating "pleasant" imagery, supply chain characters and journey map.
  • Prototype web page for supply chain information

    Design Concepts for feeling spaces

    The diary study and survey displayed that users associated these pleasant images and words with their coffee drinking experience.

    The diary study and survey displayed that users associated these pleasant images and words with their coffee drinking experience.

    The diary study and survey also displayed that users used coffee as a companion in chaotic moments like these images and words.

    The diary study and survey also displayed that users used coffee as a companion in chaotic moments like these images and words.

    The Supply Chain Series showcases players in the supply chain. This will help familiarize people with the individuals in the supply chain and allow for space to celebrate and further explain their important role in the Peace Coffee process. By incorporating the characters on the packaging, Peace Coffee can encourage recognition of the supply chain.

    I also used my findings in the design concepts to inform my incorporation of the feeling notes at the bottom of the bag. These feeling notes can elicit an association for users to the pleasant spaces they expect coffee to be in. 

    Roaster Bag Prototype.png

    All of these components are incorporated in a full webpage wireframe of a supply chain landing page. This would be a place to consolidate the available supply chain information in a manner that is accessible and useful to users.