Most people throw away their retail bags of coffee once they’re through with the beans. I tend to keep all my bags. Design fascinates me in every way, coffee packaging included. I’m a fairly visual person. I believe that branding and coffee packaging is just as important a consideration for a coffee roaster as the name, location, and bean quality. But that’s for another post. This post is about what I did with these bags that I’ve been saving for the last three years.

While I’m not able to keep the retail bags of every coffee I try, I definitely keep memorable coffees. Some bags may not be my favorite designs, but they carry great memories, a wonderful visual stimulus of inspiration as I brew my coffee.

So here’s the final product on my wall with some other cool coffee items, like the Intelligentsia latte art (with Chicago mug) taken and gifted to me by a friend, a standard “cafe art” gifted to me by another friend, and a freaking amazing “treat yo-self” drawing by Ashley Elander.


Materials used are below. Total cost was about $5, some of which I already had at home.

  • Retail bags
  • Scissors (but I suggest a blade)
  • Craft glue (I had Martha Stewart): $3
  • Patterned tape (I chose red chevron): $1
  • One foam board: $1
  • Command hanging strips

Step 1: Cut out the fronts of the retail bags (or whatever part of the bag you want to highlight). If you have several bags of similar dimensions, trim them down.


Step 2: Place bag on foam board, measure a little less than tape’s width all around.


Step 3: Use scissors or a blade to slice through the foam board.

Step 4: Glue the bag onto the board center. Tape a slight overlap onto the bag and make sure you tape over the edges to secure the bags. More overlap will be needed if your retail bag piece still has the valve on it.

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Step 5: To secure onto the walls, I used half a strip (1/4 on the board, 1/4 on the wall) of the Command hanging strips. These are one of my favorite items to have in my “tool kit,” because these strips are not only strong, but they don’t leave marks on the walls when ripped off. I live in a rental, so this is very useful to have around.

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So what roasters do I have up on the wall?

  • Klatch Coffee (Upland, CA): Costa Rica, La Minita
    • 2009: They were named Microroaster of the Year and it was my first time trying them
  • Counter Culture Coffee (Durham, NC): Guatemala, Finca Nueva Armenia
    • Great bag design with textured labels. I’ve been attending a lot of Friday cuppings so I felt they deserved a spot on the wall.
  • Metropolis Coffee (Chicago, IL): Ecuador, La Libertad
    • The first bag I ever purchased from them
  • Stumptown Coffee Roasters (Portland, OR): Grand Cru, Kenya Gaturiri
    • Last year, my friend visited Seattle and purchased this for me. The coffee was in their normal retail bag packaging, then placed in this outer bag with the fabric label, and sewn with string to seal it shut. Talk about real care!
  • Ipsento (Chicago, IL): Panama Washed, Elida Estate
    • This was given to my “test run” group of Blue Line Coffee Crawl-ers. I love their stamped bags (different coffees have different colors)
  • Madcap Coffee (Grand Rapids, MI): Costa Rica, Santa Lucia
    • First time visiting the shop. I also had an espresso flight during a “Sunday Service.” Fabric on coffee bags, a very nice tactile feel.
  • Ladro Roasting (Seattle, WA): Kenya, Kiawamururu
    • Tasted this at Sprudge’s “#kenyadigit” event and I snagged it off the table, because my first reaction to it was “I want to sleep with this coffee.” I normally don’t like Kenyan coffees, but this particular region (and this first time tasting the roaster) blew me away.
  • Blue Bottle Coffee (San Francisco, CA): Mexico, Oxaca Adopta un Cafetal
    • First time visiting the shop, of course I had to purchase a bag.
  • Gaslight Coffee Roasters (Chicago, IL): Ethiopia, Kochere
    • CityGrounds brewed with this coffee on my first Brown Line Coffee Crawl and I was gifted with a bag of Ethiopia Kochere. I felt honored to have one of the first roasts of the roastery and as luck would have it, they passed their health inspection as I was leaving CityGrounds. Bags are handmade with wax seals, ribbons, and stamps.
  • Four Barrel Coffee (San Francisco, CA): Ethiopia, Wollega Leka Wato
    • Another first visit to the shop. I like the simplicity of the bag, the uniqueness of the font, and the visual reminder of how damn awesome my experience at the cafe was.

I’ve seen some other cool uses of old coffee bags. I’d love to see what everyone else is doing!