I've changed the name of a long standing coffee called Castlehill Blend to The Dark Ness Monster. Nothing has changed in the coffee, the roast, the price and it's the same black label - just a different name. Why though?
Well the Castlehill as most folks from the UK or those who have visited Edinburgh would know that it's a street on the Royal Mile - where I pulled the brand name from. However the trouble is and always was is that hardly anyone ever knew the meaning or it's connection to the coffee, or even why I choose it.
It's original intent was to form some kind of blend series of the streets on the mile - there are 5 total. However it ended up being the only one totally supported. The Canongate was briefly sold before being set aside. I choose it while searching for a dark roast name because of the streets it sure sounded strongest. It evokes in a word what you might expect for a dark roast. It just never made much sense unless you've been there. It was just a word with "dark roast" under it.
For my part I'd always go into this long winded explanation and the connection to the coffee itself becoming lost. It started to dawn on me a year in that it's a name that couldn't stay. But what do I change it to? Is it ok to even change it? Well, roasters change names of coffees all the time. Farms names changes. Companies have changed names. That's ok. Ok, so the trouble is I didn't want to change it to something what I define as a silly gimmic name. I'm not just going to choose a name for the sake of a name. It's not going to be Lord Voldamorts Dark Army or anything that didn't exactly connect. It had to fit thematically for me. The theme, other than being a small group of people working to change things, is that this is a heavily UK influenced brand. I am an unashamed Anglophile in every way imaginable. In heavily Italian Southern New Jersey this makes total sense, of course. Jokes aside - a British designer did the original eye looking design - grabbed from a piece of the queens furniture we found from the 1700's, we heavily use paisley (there is a town in Scotland for those that don't know),and the name of the brand just to name the big three obvious ones. It had to remain in Scotland somehow.
On top of the change I always was running into issues with packaging. My bags are meant for 8oz's of coffee. It was intentional. One of my main grievances is the excess amount of packaging everyone uses. From ties to the extreme lengths of these bags, or worse now, boxes with bags inside. With the white block bottom 8oz's I could manage fitting every single coffee but Castle and Espresso easily. Considering these are two of my better selling coffees the customer experience was always a bit less than desired. In my opinion it was terrible. I couldn't square having one work so well and the other not so but it did work for the most part. I knew it was untenable in the long run I just needed to see a solution to present itself. Ok, why not custom bags you ask? Well, they're quite a bit costly require enormous runs of one bag so you also need a complete re-design (which we're doing but not there yet). Why was the experience terrible though? If you needed to grind either bag you were left with no room for the coffee to fit forcing you to either drop some coffee on the floor or just use a bag at a store. And that sucked. Also, the bags never quite reached to the trigger part on the commercial grinders so you'd always awkwardly have to hold the bag up.
For an entire year both issues festered. After a considerable amount of time I managed to find a bag slightly wider but taller. Well now that i've got the bag why not do the name change then too? So became the quest for a new name. In the ways I look for feedback I seek people outside of my town, random people I encounter in my area, friends, co-workers, on top of my own general thoughts. I do this in part to find some sense of objectivity, inspiration, and a sense that some ideas are greater than what I can make up in my own head. In the end, one of my greatest friends - a true genius, Andrew Kenny of American Analog Set hit me up with this response via text: Dark Ness Monster; you can mail yearly supplies of the coffee + royalty's to kenny and the set in austin tx.
Thanks,Coffees in the mail next week my man.