You’ve probably never ordered a specialty coffee from inside of a barn—yet alone a barn that is over 150 years old. However, I guarantee that if presented with the opportunity you wouldn’t pass it by.
The sight of the barn’s rugged and weathered exterior would instantly evoke emotion, perhaps nostalgia, transporting you to another place, another time. Once inside, those waves of emotion would continue when you see massive hand-hewn beams juxtaposed against sleek, modern, silver espresso machines. It’s unlike any coffee shop you’ve ever seen.
You have yet to taste the coffee, but the space’s aesthetic triggers a visceral reaction, gripping you with anticipation. You imagine an exceptional cup before the first sip even touches your palate.
DoubleShot Coffee in Tulsa, Oklahoma is known for doing things their way. Owner Brian Franklin began roasting coffee decades ago and launched his shop in a small retail space in downtown Tulsa. As his loyal following grew, so did his reputation. Not only does DoubleShot have some of the best coffee around, but they are also sticklers for how it is prepared and consumed. Franklin’s list of rules includes no espresso to go, no headphones while ordering, and we take requests not orders. This handwritten manifesto used to be posted at checkout for all customers to see. In fact, after passing through Tulsa, Carrie Brownstein was inspired to write a Portlandia sketch revolving around the seemingly pretentious barista culture.
As Franklin’s business grew, so did the need for more space. DoubleShot doubled the size of its shop’s space and expanded its in-house bakery program. A few years later, it was time to expand again, this time into a custom-built space. This new space needed to accommodate another coffee roaster, a full bakery program, and most importantly room for their increasing number of regulars.
In 2019 DoubleShot opened the doors to The Rookery—their new location, created from a reconstructed barn that dates back to the 1860s. The handcrafted barn was relocated from Berne, Indiana, and reassembled piece-by-piece in downtown Tulsa. DoubleShot now has a location that was built on the same grit and determination that formed its backbone.
Of all the things that the DoubleShot has become known for, the one thing that is not polarizing is a coffee they exclusively produce—Maduro. Franklin is a purist and insists on traveling to the small farms where he sources coffee. This process is as much about forming relationships as it is understanding the peculiarities of a region that contribute to the overall flavor of the coffee.
Specialty coffee is similar to wine in that factors like soil, weather, and processing methods all impact the final product. One stark difference is that while the methods for winemaking have been refined and standardized over thousands of years, coffee-producing regions are much more loose with their methods.
A coffee bean is the seed of a coffee cherry, a vibrant red fruit that grows on the coffee tree. To make your daily cup, the cherries are first harvested, pulped, dried, and then exported. Any number of importers could purchase the beans, which, at this phase, are unroasted and a pale tannish green color. In the hands of different roastmasters, the same crop could taste wildly different once brewed.
What coffee roasters have come to realize is that it’s uncommon for the farmers to enjoy a cup of their coffee in the way that American coffee drinkers consume it. Roastmasters precisely dial in custom roasts for each farm’s lot, grind the beans according to the brewing method, and then extract it at an exact temperature accurate to tenths of a degree, using water with a specified pH balance and mineral content. Travel back down to the Southern Hemisphere to the coffee’s origin and things are a bit looser.
Playing with these variables intrigued Franklin.
Thanks to years of building relationships with local farmers, he asked one of his Colombian producers about conducting a small experiment. Franklin asked one of the farmers to pick only the reddest ripest cherries from a portion of his lot and to process them as a separate batch.
This experiment created one of their flagship roasts, one that has landed them a mention in Wine Spectator and Uncommon Grounds. The Maduro. The sweeping success of this coffee led Franklin to think of what else he could create, and a coffee ground-infused chocolate bar seemed like a sure winner.
Franklin worked with a few chocolatiers before finding local gourmet chocolatier, Glacier Confection, to produce the Maduro chocolate bar. This premium bar is made with 68% Peruvian dark chocolate and infused with Franklin’s roasted Maduro. This will be the 4th year he’s sold the bar, and he expects to sell more than ever.
This masterful pairing makes the bar a premium product, and Franklin understood that custom packaging would be the key to communicating that value to customers. No stranger to custom packaging, Franklin releases two high-end coffees each year, each packaged in a gift set, often with a handmade mug or similar accessory. He’s directly seen the impact the presentation has on sales.
This will be the fourth year that he’s sold the Maduro bar, and he realized that much like relocating his shop to a brand new building, the Maduro bar was due for some refreshed packaging.
“We’ve always used a wrapper,” said Franklin. “We did a wrapper that looked like leather for a few years. I felt like they were selling well, but I felt like we could take it to the next level.”
Custom packaging requires a certain level of commitment, and Franklin weighed the pros and cons of producing a new custom design. The first thing he assessed was how many units he’d have to order compared to how many bars he projected to sell. The key factor was thinking about not only this year’s sales but the sales in years to come.
“I’m not going to stop selling that bar,” said Franklin. “I’m planning on selling 600 this Christmas season alone. It cost a little more, but I think that when somebody looks at the bar now compared to the bar last year they’ll see a quality difference that will encourage them to purchase it.”
In the scope of the bar’s overall cost to the customer, the cost of custom packaging is insignificant, particularly when it’s the key to catching their attention and making the sale.
To help draw that attention, Franklin used a metallic copper foil finish to accent their logo. “I think that without the foil finish, it was just a box,” said Franklin.
Whether it’s the architectural design of the DoubleShot’s new building or the graphic design of their custom Maduro chocolate bar packaging, Franklin understands the importance of the first impression. These visual cues entice and set expectations for his customers. This combination of exceptional coffees and attractive packaging is sure to keep new customers coming through the doors and enjoying his coffees for years to come.