Moxie Coffee Co. founder Matt Heltzel has been working in coffee for over a decade, “and being very entrepreneurial, I’d always said someday I would open my own roastery… and that’s Moxie.” The Phoenix-based company is nearing its second birthday here in May of 2023 and there’s plenty to celebrate. Among them is their stellar new packaging that really caught our eye—so much so we just had to learn more for a new edition of Coffee Design.
It wasn’t always birthdays and celebrations for Heltzel. “For much of my life growing up, I carried a lot of shame. I felt like I didn’t belong, like I was a misfit, and that I was unloveable,” says Heltzell “The shame I carried had awful effects on my relationships, my work, and my physical/emotional health. Around that time, I found a great therapist and spent years doing some really deep work. And at the end of that difficult journey, I came out with the realization that there was nothing wrong with me. There’s nothing I need to hide. In fact… quite the opposite. I’m capable of creating beautiful things for people to enjoy.”
For Heltzel, Moxie represents “sort of the embodiment of that realization… at least in terms of my work and vocation.” We wanted to learn more about Moxie Coffee Co. and Heltzel’s personal journey and spoke with Heltzel digitally.
We spoke with owner Matt Heltzel to learn more.
Tell us more about Moxie’s origin story!
The name Moxie and our cracked cup logo tell that story, although in more subtle ways. To have Moxie means that you have a bit of courage to do difficult or risky things. To me, Moxie reminds me to lean into the emotions and feelings that I often try to avoid. In the coffee world and in our shop, it means that we take confident risks and share them with our community. When we first opened, we had a 200-hour fermentation Colombian coffee on pour-over, and we were one of the first in Phoenix to ever serve something that wild. I had no clue that so many people would absolutely love experimental coffees like that, and buying that coffee was a financial risk for sure. Since then, we’ve tried to purchase some of the rarest coffees we can find (Finca Deborah from Panama, for instance). We do that because I want our community to be able to taste mind-blowing coffees and have an experience with coffee that they haven’t had anywhere else. I’d like to see Phoenix get more recognition nationally for the awesome coffee scene that exists here, and I hope Moxie can do it’s part to that end. We want our community here in Phoenix to be able to experience these jaw-dropping coffees (and selfishly, we’re endlessly fascinated by these coffees too). We’re here to take confident risks and share in the rewards with our incredible staff and the Phoenix community that’s relentlessly supported us from day one.
You recently came out with some new packaging – when did it debut?
We debuted the new packaging in September 2022. In the process of opening the roasting shop, we wanted to keep packaging costs low. We had super basic white gusseted bags with a cheap sticker printed on them. It did the job, but it felt really incongruent. I wondered, “Why am I buying these remarkable coffees and packaging them in the cheapest bags imaginable?” So, I reached out to some of my old friends in coffee and they pointed me to Savor Brands in Hawaii. I can’t say enough about how easy and enjoyable they were to work with.
We love the minimal bag design and the cards—tell us how y’all decided on the cards.
The minimal bag design stems from our overall brand, which is ‘design by restraint.’ I want our bags to cause people to look twice, and maybe raise an eyebrow because that’s exactly what my favorite coffees cause me to do as I’m drinking them. Ever since I got into coffee, I’ve always enjoyed drinking out of simple, one-colored cups. I prefer a stripped-down, minimalist approach to almost everything, but especially coffee. I wanted that idea to spill over into our design, but I also wanted to have something that was immediately recognizable as “Moxie.” I can’t say enough about the team at Made Shop for helping bring that exact vision to life in this packaging. That crew is not only incredibly talented, but they’re a joy to work with.
With the cards, we initially were considering using a sewing machine to sew on every card. As you can imagine, that was hideous. So, we decided to use little elastic bands to strap the card to the front of the bag instead. Ultimately with the cards, I wanted to have something that jumped off the shelf and said, “Hey, look at me.” I think humans are drawn to tactile things that we can touch and feel, and the embossed MOXIE is sort of the final touch that communicates an elevated product. In short, I wanted the packaging to reflect the quality of coffee that’s inside the bag. I think having little cards helped do that for us.
Is there a special version for special coffee offerings?
We do have a version for special coffee offerings. One of our most recent was Gesha Clouds from Forest Coffee in Colombia. That coffee was created by Milton Monroy and we sell that in 3oz tins. Currently, I’m sourcing those tins online because it’s really all I could find in 2021 during all the shipping delays during Covid. I hope to source those more reliably in the coming months. You can see our special coffee offering tins here.
Who did you work with on it?
We worked with Made Shop in Denver, CO on the entire branding, merch, and packaging.
How long did the process take?
We began the process in August 2021 and by the time we actually received all our merch, bags and everything… it was about a year. We still work with them on little projects for design because they know the brand so well and they’re great people to work with. I used to roast coffee in Denver so I had some connections that led me to working with Made Shop.
Where is your coffee available?
Our coffee is available in the shop in 8oz bags and 2lb bags. We do a buy 10, get one free loyalty program for our whole beans in shop. Online, you can buy 8oz, 2lb, or 5lb bags. The 2lb and 5lb bags have a volume discount applied automatically. You can also find it in a few local coffee shops and restaurants here in Phoenix. We’re hoping to expand our wholesale this year to include more shops and multi-roaster shops throughout Phoenix and the US.
Any upcoming offerings you’re looking forward to?
In terms of upcoming offerings, we have some fun coffees from Panama and Colombia on the way. We usually launch a fun, funky coffee every few months, but hopefully, we can offer more of those more frequently.
Zachary Carlsen is a co-founder and editor at Sprudge Media Network.