Pack Of The Month: Boxha Celebrates Their Founder's Mexican Heritage
By: Casha Doemland
Coffee is a morning ritual for about 64% percent of the American population, hence the Starbucks on every other block.
Yet, despite the coffee monster running the streets, mom and pop cafes and coffee shops continue to open around the world. As of May 19, El Paso, Texas welcomed Boxha Coffee House + Wine Bar to the neighborhood.
Founded by Pedro Valdez, Boxha pays homage to his Mexican heritage with a focus in Mayan culture. "The name Boxha is simply the Mayan word for coffee, and we took an approach that honors the culture in a fresher way, one that isn't sugar skulls and mariachi hats," states Joel Martinez, creative director at Eme Design Studio.
The process started with dialogue and absorbing as much information as possible regarding Mayan and Mexican culture. "To honor such an important civilization in a brand, it is necessary to execute with care," shares Ana Ruiz, designer at Eme Design Studio. In a world filled with cultural appropriation, it goes without saying that the culture should be properly represented and respected throughout each of the designs.
Once the team had a better understanding of the civilization and dialects, a challenge arose. How do they seamlessly merge a coffee shop and the culture of Mayans for a modern, clean look?
Illustrations derived from elements of Mayan art and culture such as animal headdresses many gods wore as well as ceramics, jewelry and codexes but featured a modern twist to appeal to the current market.
The team at Eme Studio Design started with a variety of illustrations on paper, and then uploaded each to Adobe Illustrator to clean everything up.
"Illustrations were a natural way to represent all of the ornate aspects of ancient Mayan art," adds Ruiz. "Through illustration, we were able to capture many of the visual aspects of the culture that we maybe couldn't have had we gone about this project in a different way."
The logo features animals, depicted from the gods as well as sacrifices and skulls which are a direct influence in Boxha's skull illustrations. Additionally, there had to be an element of coffee, which is why the coffee bean serves as a focal point throughout the line illustrations.
As for the orange, blue and gold accents found throughout the designs, it was inspired by Mayan Codices, “a series of books written in Mayan hieroglyphics on special Mesoamerican paper, made from the inner bark of trees” according to Crystal Links. “ We wanted to use the softer tone of those colors to stay as close as possible to the colors they used,” says Martinez.
Of course, when one problem is solved, another one arises. Should the designs on the coffee bags be identical to the in-house containers, or should each packaging piece have a unique fitted design?
"We had all the resources ready for manufacturing but had to explore how these elements worked with each of the packaging pieces," says Martinez. "It felt like we were guessing what would work until we finally understood each of the pieces and how they would interact with the customer to be able to choose the elements for each piece.”
This would eventually become the most rewarding part of the project. "It was really satisfying to see that the illustrations can have so much flexibility, which is even more exciting when you think about where the brand can go from here," adds Martinez.
Lastly, as sustainability is on everyone’s mind, especially in the single-use variety, the bulk of Boxha's products are recyclable cardboard and paper. The company worked with Mexcup, a manufactured from Mexico for all of their packaging needs, which "is very clean in its mission to use materials that are sustainable and recyclable,” adds Martinez. “Additionally, Mexcup uses eco-friendly inks.”
Between the modern take on the founder’s heritage, the fact that it's a coffee house and wine bar all in one, and the sustainability factor, Boxha has got it going on, giving coffee giants a run for their money.
LA-based and Georgia-bred, Casha Doemland spends her days crafting poetry and freelance writing. Over the last two years, she’s been published in a variety of publications and zines around the world. When she’s not nerding out with words, you can catch her watching a classic film, trekking around the globe or hanging out with a four-pound Pomeranian.