The birth of the quality coffee chain

Client: Columbus Coffee


Before Starbucks reached New Zealand’s shores, Columbus pioneered the ‘specialist serious coffee’ chain. Conceived by ‘coffee in their blood’ duo, David Burton and Frances Hollis (who were also the founders of Gravity Coffee), the chain was born from the view that New Zealand was ready to take quality coffee a lot more seriously than what was on offer at the time.

We were asked to create the brand from scratch, including finding the right name, the visual identity and brand mark, the coffee packaging, collaborate on the store interiors and instigate the marketing programme.

The client’s concept was launched as a dry coffee specialist retailer with some wet trialling, rather than the standard café that the chain has since become. But pragmatism and agility to align to the market are excellent business traits, and the Columbus Coffee chain today has retained its original quality, and its branding, even without its purist original intent.