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Amongst the throng of Toronto‘s densely populated coffee market, Pilot Coffee Roasters stand apart from the crowd. Ethical and diligent in sourcing beans from leading plantations in Brazil, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Kenya, and equally meticulous in their roasting, their endgame is to get their coffee into the cups of customers that want something “a little different, a little special” versus clamouring to grow for the sake of growth. This is how you build a brand people value and respect.

We recently collaborated with Michelle Wilkin (who does double duty as co-owner and creative director) to help produce some new low-key signage to advertise Pilot within its many wholesalers. While modest in size, the stakes were high: point-of-sale signage should underscore rather than overbear. “Because coffee is served without any branding, and our packaging is not always visible to the customer, we wanted to give our wholesale partners a tool to assist their sales as well as give our brand some awareness.” And those partners range from small indie cafés to large hotels and restaurants – each with their own branding, and interior material and colour palettes.

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Michelle developed more than a half-dozen solutions (many of them quite clever) before deciding on the subtlest option. “We landed on a clean acrylic two-part stand that provided our partners the flexibility to display it wherever they felt most appropriate.” This stand was a 1/8″ thick matte white plaque wedged within 1″ black, with text and graphics UV printed straight onto the acrylic – elegant, high contrast, and understated enough to work in any visual environment. “We didn’t want to give our partners something that competed with their aesthetic, so our goal was to design something simple and modern.” The design is also flexible and the white plaque can be swapped out with a new design down the road.

PilotWest5Mission accomplished, we think! The photographs in this post were taken at La Marzocco Cafe in Seattle where Pilot were the ‘roaster in residence’ last December. Being featured at a cafe renowned by coffee connoisseurs (in Seattle, no less!) is exactly the type of recognition we’d expect from Michelle and company and we don’t think it’s an accident that the successful Roastery is as serious about their design as they are about their beans.