Coffee connoisseurs, this one’s for you! We got the chance to talk to Christy Duggan, visual designer at Counter Culture Coffee, about how she landed her dream job, a day in her life and her go-to coffee blend.
About Counter Culture Coffee
Counter Culture Coffee is dedicated to coffee perfection and sustainability. Their unique blends and single-origin coffees are sold in coffee shops and restaurants around the country. Counter Culture uses Canto to centralize their digital assets.
Hi Christy! I’ve seen Counter Culture Coffee in a lot of coffee shops and it seems like such a cool brand. Could you tell me about what you do there?
Yes, I love my job! I’ve been here seven years and I still look forward to coming to work every day. I feel really fortunate to have the role that I do here.
I’m the visual designer, which is a catch-all title for a lot of different things. I mainly focus on photography and videography. I also do some production graphic design as well as manage a lot of product rollouts, overseeing that process all the way from ordering materials to website launch.
What’s a day on the job like for you?
Every day can be a little bit different. Usually, the first couple days of the week I’m more focused on getting all the digital assets ready for new product launches. The rest of the week I’ll focus more on creative stuff, like shooting or editing video and photos that we use for various purposes, like social media and the website.
As a team, we’re always trying to come up with fun campaign ideas. We oversee a wide range of projects from concept to execution—ranging from quarterly releases to large-scale events like our 25th anniversary shindig. It’s a small team and we all have very different roles, but it feels very collaborative and it’s fun.
How did you end up at your current role?
I went to school in Utah and got a photography degree. Afterward, I moved to D.C. for a change of scenery and picked up a part-time job at a coffee shop, which happened to serve Counter Culture.
I got to know the local Counter Culture team really well and dove into coffee headfirst. I couldn’t learn enough! I really loved Counter Culture Coffee and everything the brand stood for. After living in DC for about five years and ultimately managing the coffee program at the cafe, I applied for a junior designer position at Counter Culture in Durham, North Carolina.
Graphic design was always something I was interested in, so I thought it could be a good career change. I ended up getting the job, and pretty much immediately I recognized that there was a need for better photography and offered to help out with that. My role shifted towards more photography and eventually, videography. Counter Culture was really encouraging and helped me learn videography through the certificate program at Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies. I still maintain some of the design responsibilities I started out with.
It’s been a lot of fun and it’s something I try to not take for granted. Sometimes I’m in disbelief that this is actually my job. I feel really lucky all the time.
That’s such a wonderful story, that you fell in love with this brand and have been able to work there for seven years. I’d love to hear more about the thought process behind the visual elements of Counter Culture’s branding.
About two years into this job, we recognized that our branding felt rustic and Italian, but we’re a modern American company. So we did a rebrand and added more bold colors to our palette and really cleaned up and modernized our design. It felt much more like a reflection of who we are.
I really, really like that aesthetic and our vibrant colors. We’re constantly inspired by the incredible people around us and the wide spectrum of companies and brands we admire.
What’s your favorite blend from Counter Culture?
Oh, wow. It’s hard to choose because I love all my children equally. But if I had to choose my everyday cup of coffee would be Fast Forward. It’s chocolatey, nutty, just an easy cup of coffee. Otherwise, anything from Ethiopia has my heart.
We have quarterly seasonal coffees, and this quarter we launched Sabor, which I’m really excited about. It celebrates the release of our updated Flavor Wheel, and we wanted this coffee to have strong, distinct flavors that even a novice drinker could pick up on. It’s a really fun experience to be able to taste different flavors in your coffee and notice if it’s fruity or savory. It’s amazing that coffee can taste so different just depending on where it’s grown or how it’s processed.