The photo for this article was provided by the interviewee.
Whereas most coffee merchandise is focused on the barista and the final cup, there are few products that emphasise how coffee was produced, from so-called “seed to cup.” Filtrew, a coffee merchandise company, is aiming to change this. Filtrew’s prints caught my eye and I decided to reach out to them to learn a bit more about how they create products. My chat with the founder, Haydn, is below.
For my readers, could you tell us about what Filtrew is?
Filtrew is a lifestyle and coffee design brand aiming to produce minimalist and contemporary products which inspire people to learn more about speciality coffee. We believe that great coffee and great design go hand-in-hand, and we just want to fly that flag a little higher. At the moment we’re starting with t-shirts, accessories and prints/posters, but hoping to expand into more coffee orientated products and accessories in the future!
Why did you decide to start a business that creates speciality coffee apparel?
Having previously worked as a graphic designer, it’s always been a dream of mine to have my own brand selling products which I can curate and design myself. I jumped into the coffee industry after becoming an obsessed home brewer - and, after meeting so many incredible people, it only seemed natural to base the theme around coffee and the people behind it.
Your website features art prints of coffee, such as your “seed-to-cup” series. How do you decide what should become an art print? What is the philosophy behind your print designs?
When starting this journey, I always wanted it to highlight every part of the coffee chain. The majority of coffee merch seems to only celebrate the barista - when so much of the magic has already happened before then in steps that are rarely talked about. We want to celebrate all the stages of production, from the farmer and seed, right the way through to roasting and brewing in order to try to educate more people about the beauty of speciality coffee.
You talk a bit about sustainability on your site, emphasising the decisions you have made to create a more ethical product. Why does sustainability matter do you?
Yes, it was a no-brainer to produce ethical and sustainable products. We live in a throw-away society and although we are only small, we do not want to contribute by using unnecessary plastics. It is always a challenge sourcing and finding sustainable products, but it’s always worth it from a quality and branding perspective.
How do you turn a design from something on paper to a final digital design? What tools do you use?
I studied graphic communication and have worked in design for over SEVEN years now, but the process has always remained the same. It starts with an idea, or inspiration which I try to capture as quickly as possible on paper. It doesn’t have to be perfect at this point, and to be honest it’s normally pretty illegible!
If I think the idea works or has potential, I’ll move it to the screen. I use the standard Adobe software, including Illustrator and Photoshop. I’ve always been inspired by minimalism and Scandinavian design, so for me less is more - the key is perfecting the design first without adding colour. If it doesn’t work at first in just black and white, it won’t work at all.
Your website says that “coffee is a product of people,” a sentiment that is quite easily forgotten. Why is this important to you as a brand?
It’s an easy thing to forget, especially when so many people nowadays are grabbing a coffee on their way to work without a second thought. One positive to come out of this pandemic has been that it has allowed a lot of people to slow down, spend more time on deciding where to buy their coffee, support local businesses and shine a light of some of the incredible work people in the industry are doing. If we can create a product that people can get behind, and help spread the word and build a community about coffee and the people who make it, then it’ll all be worth it.
What is your favourite part about designing a new product?
There are a few moments, as the whole process comes with it’s ups and downs; many designers will tell you that behind one good design are countless unsuccessful attempts. The sudden influx of inspiration is always a great feeling, regardless of whether it’ll work out or not, the rush to grab the nearest pencil and jot everything down before you forget it can be quite exhilarating if not quite stressful! Next would be seeing your designs on the garment / final product - often you’ll design something very static or two-dimensional, so to see it on a physical item is always something I look forward to!
What is your favourite method of preparing coffee?
V60 - it’s the first thing I do every morning.
If you could visit any coffee origin in the world, where would you go and why?
If I had the chance, I don’t think I’d turn any down to be honest! But if I had to pick, it would most likely be to Kenya. Purely because it’s my favourite origin in terms of cup quality and tasting notes, but it would be an incredible opportunity to see how a farm operates and to see a coffee plant with ripe cherries!
What coffee(s) are you drinking at the moment?
I’ve actually got a natural Ethiopia from Bailies Coffee Roasters called Buku Hambela. It is zesty with a big body with lingering notes of IPA, and I would always highly recommend Bailies. Another shoutout would be for Quarter Horse Coffee in Birmingham, they are my local and never disappoint with a huge range of amazing origins and processes.
You can find out more about Filtrew and their products on their Instagram page @filtrew or on their website at filtrew.com.