The making of Coffee Nubia logo was one of the most exciting enterprise we had been given. The idea was to reflect the essence of this café. This is not just a coffee place, it is a hub that welcomes the African Caribbean community regardless of tribe but also any other races for one of the best coffees but also African, Caribbean and European delicacies.
Many coffee places, although serving other products, use coffee as the centre of their symbolism. This is an aspect that the quality of the coffee served urged to reflect, without getting its aroma and strength lost in the one-dimension of such superficial symbolism. Coffee, it was going to include but not just coffee, exactly like the place itself.
The foundation of the place resounds in its name, Nubia, which refers to a region of Eastern Africa. The first thing we thought about therefore is to go to the other side of Africa to look into the symbols that characterise the other aspect of the hub. So, unavoidably, we looked into and browse through Adinkra symbols looking for a representation of what it is that Coffee Nubia represents for its community of customers. The Adinkra signs contain many attractive and adequate signs in terms of their meaning and impact.
The community aspect resounds in the BOA ME NA ME MMOA WO1 symbol meaning “help me and let me help you” and represent the cooperation and interdependence which distributed diasporas are reminded of in such few places as the café. FUNTUNFUNEFU DENKYEMFUNEFU, the “siamese crocodiles” is democracy but ore importantly in our context, unity in diversity.
NKONSONKONSON, the “chain links” means unity, human relations and mainly confirmed that there could be quite a number of options for this project. Together with the ESE NE TEKREMA, they were a favourite because they looked like a bean, which would allow me to include the coffee. The latter symbol has the the literal meaning “the teeth and the tongue”, and represents friendship, interdependence but also, But I was not satisfied.
Then I came across the ‘chief of all Adinkra King, the ‘chief of all Adinkra designs’, the Adinkrahene. In everything it was, it appealed to us and represented the project. Its strength and shape was coffee. Its responsibility and leadership. Its inspiring character is reminiscent of those moments when great authors are typing their opus in coffee places, businesses are being set up at the corner of such places, people are getting together ideas to lead the future. That was the symbol we were going to go with. Not at once apparent yet clearly unveiled.
It is one thing to find the symbol to design, it is another to design it. The Adinkra hene is perfectly formed in most of its designs but when you look into it for too long, it is like getting lost in a cup of coffee. In effect, it looks like the circles of any liquid into which a drop of liquid is falling. We explored this, the designer and myself for a while. I felt we were near the final idea, but I still felt it was missing the essence of the coffee, the after-taste, the impact.
This is where it occurs to me. Just like we take for granted the origin of our inspiration, such as how the comforting homeliness and hospitality of a coffee shop favours our ability to reconnect with our inner muse, there is a part of sitting at a coffee place that most of us completely ignore or even try to wipe out, the coffee stain. Those circles, in which I once saw liquid dropping into liquid suddenly became the stain that a cup leaves behind, similar to the trail of its presence that is the aroma in the air. There it was, the idea I sought, I found it. Certainly some will still see it as just-poured coffee and we did our best to allow for that because it is different perspectives that make a hub. But the coffee stain , the leftover after all is drank and said, is that little surplus that this business offers.
We weren’t out of the water yet. Branding is an identity that had its shape but begged for the remaining elements of its look and feel. The colours, the font, the size, they all had to be determined, played with, evaluated, eliminated or selected. The final colours chosen were not just there to say coffee and Nubia, they were also selected as a canvas to showcase the multiple colours and vibrances that each inidividual and group brings to Coffee Nubia.