Coffee Supreme supplies our cafes with supremely good coffee year round, so this week we decided to sit down with a cup of soft brew and Douglas Johns from Coffee Supreme to chat about designing for the seasonal Vic Books blend, setting up shop in Japan, and the rewarding nature of working with coffee.
What is your day job?
Brand & Marketing Manager at Coffee Supreme.
What is your connection to Vic Books?
I’ve had a few friends who have worked at Vic Books over the years. But in recent years, we’ve been supplying coffee to the Vic Books cafes.
You wear a few different hats for Supreme: graphic design, marketing, art direction. How do these fit together for you? What does your "work day" look like?
Lots of juggling. But I can’t actually juggle.
What are you working on at the moment?
Well, post-Covid blues, but we won’t dwell on that. We have some really exciting things on the go. We’re just putting the final touches on our first sustainability report, working on new and better packaging for our coffee, and we’re just about to release a nice beer with Parrotdog.
What has been your favourite Supreme project to date?
Launching the brand in Japan has to be a highlight. We’re very lucky to be working alongside Tomoko, Hiroki, and friends to bring the idea to life, and also very lucky to travel there and make things happen. Learning a new culture, ways of doing business, and working with customers was lots of fun and a good challenge. I always feel refreshed and inspired afterwards. I try to bring a little bit of the attention to detail taken by brands there, along with the level of customer service and experience in stores and public spaces, home to NZ.
You've recently celebrated ten years working with Supreme: What keeps you coming back for more?
It’s been an amazing ten years. I’ve had the opportunity to learn a lot on the job, I’m still learning, so I think that has kept me from feeling stale. It’s also great when you have a quality product to sell and one that is a daily routine for people. A simple cup of coffee means a lot for people, and being able to provide it for them is quite rewarding.
Each season when Vic Books gets a new coffee blend we get beautifully designed artwork to match. Could you tell us a little about what this process looks like for you?
We like to keep this process quite fun, fast and loose. Sometimes it presents the opportunity to try an idea we’ve been thinking about or wanted to try. Country flags and national colours are always a nice starting point.
Hardback or paperback?
Or both? Both. Depends on the content and design. Happy with either.
My first coffee at home in the morning. I make a pour-over for two (for me and my partner). I think a coffee tastes better when it’s made by or for someone else. I really like Kenyan coffees when they’re available.
What softbrew method do you use at home and why?
Chemex is my favourite method. Makes a really clean cup and a design classic.
Which Supreme product is your favourite?
If we're talking about coffee – I always like Kenyan coffees.
If we're talking other stuff – Barista Socks. It's been amazing to watch how a simple everyday product can be so fun and how influential they have been for us as a brand.
What do you order in a cafe when softbrew is off the menu?
I love a good Flat White.