Inside the colorful cardboard boxes by Martins Cafe, you'd expect to find retro wind-up toys. However, once you tear off a flap from the robot-printed package you're hit with the rich smell of ground coffee instead.
The unexpected element marks the idea behind the playful presentation of Brazil's Martins Cafe, a young brand of specialty coffee which comes in five varieties —cardamon, anise, cinnamon, nutmeg and 100% Arabica—and is contributing to the country's artisanal coffee movement. Searching for an icon that would represent the nostalgic feeling Brazilians get from the memory of their grandmothers serving them coffee with a spoonful of anise or cinnamon, and at the same time show the brand's modern vision, the three partners behind Martins Cafe—Mariano Martins, Maira Lopes and Fabiola Filinto—settled on robot iconography. "We wanted to play with the coffee," says Lopes. "We wanted retro but more color, more Brazilian. We wanted to give it a tropical touch."
Recognizing the bad rap that flavored coffee usually gets, the trio called in Isabela Raposeiras of Coffee Lab as a consultant, and in the end she helped them conceive the line. The flavors, based on real ingredients instead of artificial additives, are natural in taste and give the already smooth coffee a pleasant aroma. Martins Cafe has also been working with mixologist Marco De La Roche on introducing iced and blended coffee drinks—made with distinctly Brazilian ingredients like passionfruit—with the belief that such cold beverages would work well in the context of the country's warm climate.
Martins Cafe exclusively uses coffee planted on Martins' family's 690-acre coffee farm, Fazenda Santa Margarida, in Sorocabana, located just 155 miles outside of Sao Paulo. When his father decided to put the farm up for sale after five generations, Martins made a pact with him promising he'd turn the place around in two years. Fazenda Santa Margarida has since become known among other coffee farms in the area as an example of quality. Currently, 10% of the yearly yield goes to Martins Cafe.
Martins Cafe plans to expand its distribution in 2013 to other fine coffee shops and retailers, including select vendors in the US. Keep an eye out online. For a closer look at the Martins Cafe production process see the slideshow.
Images courtesy of Martins Cafe