There’s a photograph at Vienna Coffee House — a big enlargement up against a little table with two chairs — that tells the story of the international nature of the coffee business in a snapshot.
A pair of work-weathered hands hold two palms full of coffee cherries, the fruit of the plant that holds the the seeds we’re familiar with as the bean.
The hands and cherries were photographed on a mountaintop in Guatemala. John Clark, founder and owner of Maryville-based Vienna Coffee, explained how, if not for his son-in-law Less Stoneham on a mission to Guatemala, there might not be beans from that mountain available in Maryville.
It was a result of that mission that subsistence coffee growers, with crops covering maybe a hectare, could get a decent price for their produce. No longer would they have to sell to the coyote buyers who visited the fields where the growers didn’t have access to the big buyers.
A couple of growers that first year learned how to produce the quality of crop Vienna Coffee needed. In return, they were paid five times more than the coyotes offered. Year after year, the little co-op grew — La Armonia Hermosa, “a beautiful partnership.”
It’s how Clark and Philip Hatter, Vienna’s director of coffee and training, came up with the idea of an adventure theme for new packaging for their products.
“John’s been wanting new packaging for awhile. So I thought, you know let’s start this thing. I had a particular vision of what I thought we should have. We’re nestled here in East Tennessee right against the Smoky Mountains, and I wanted to embrace this whole theme of adventure, coffee as an adventure,” Hatter said.
Hatter knew where to turn to make it happen. His brother, Sean Hatter, is an artist in Virginia.
“They presented the project to me and certain ideas that they wanted to work with. But they gave me room to kind of play around with it and come up with some different design ideas,” Sean Hatter said.
Philip Hatter was committed to connecting Blount County with the world.
“Let’s take people on a world tour, a world adventure. But let’s also embrace our local adventure, so the new packaging that we have has a topographic map of the Smokies as a way to connect to our local area. We wanted to connect further to the local (area) by enlisting my brother to do paintings that would be kind of icons for each of our our six major blends, and they are images taken from local scenes or local surroundings. But it’s all done in that kind of old WPA, National Parks style,” Philip Hatter said.
The result was six new package designs, one for each of Vienna’s most popular blends.
The packaging itself ends up close to the earth, too. The bags are Bio Trade and completely compostable.
“We made a play for sustainability when we moved to this bag,” Clark said. “While we were preprinting a ton of bags, we thought we’d just rebrand the whole thing, and that’s where the inspiration for the art on the labels and adventure theme came from.”