It isn’t enough for Starbucks to just offer great coffee. They also provide beautiful bags for some of their best whole bean roasts. Today I am here to celebrate three of my favorite Starbucks bags of art.
Starbucks Bag Art is unique because it covers the entire bag. In the examples below you will see I cut the bag in the back and then pulled apart the sticky seams and ironed the entire bag flat with my bare hands.

Now you can see how the art actually wraps around the entire bag of coffee. This art isn’t a sticker or a sliver of color — the art is the bag and the bag is the art and that makes Starbucks a celebration of the human spirit. 

The first whole bean bag, Breakfast Blend, sings of
joy and sunrises. You look at the bag and you are made happy in a dark
world. The layered colors speak of purpose in waking to a necessary
existence. You are inspired to be more than just alive. You cannot be
unhappy holding this beans bag in your hand.

 Starbucks Breakfast Blend Bag Art

Our next art bag holds the elite Papua New Guinea Estate Roast.
The bag looks wet and slippery! There is a repressive and exotic
haunting that descends upon you as you grind the beans. The beans rain
on your taste buds as you sip their ashy goodness. I especially like
the semiotic butterfly embedded behind the title of the coffee and
mixed in with the leaves and the sexy, streaking, droplets of rain.
Starbucks Papua New Guinea Estate Bag Art

Finally, we get taken far away with the Arabian Mocha Timor
bag of art. I cut off the Starbucks logo at the bottom of the image for
this demonstration so you can see how the top of the ship’s mast
travels directly to the upper edge of the bag design. That point of the
mast is actually “lost from view” when the bag holds your beans — it
gets scrunched up in closing the open top of the bag — but the fact
that fine detail is there for you, waiting for you to discover it, is
what makes this bag my favorite. The coffee is dense on your tongue and
delicate in your nose. The erotic aroma takes you on a journey hinting
of oceans and of angry skies and there’s no place else I’d rather be
than keeping watch from the mast of that beautiful ship’s crow’s nest.

 Starbucks Arabian Mocha Timor Bag Art

proves once again they are more than just beans in a bag. Starbucks has
an aesthetic and a love of human expression and if you doubt that moody
fact — go into a Starbucks and hold a pound of Bag Art in your hand.
Then you’ll know beauty in 16 ounces of whole beans.


  1. Tajuki!
    There you are!
    Thanks for your comment and your Avatar sort of reflects the same moody tone of the Timor bag. I like how the Timor bag tells a story. There’s a rescue — or an attack — at play. A bird seeks landing. A fire in the distance. A boat in peril. The entire stretch of humanity is there for the looking.

  2. Hi Candy —
    Coffee is always a good blog topic because people all around the world drink it and every one has their own hates and faves.

  3. Hi Jerry —
    Welcome to the blog!
    Yes, you’re right — the bag’s the thing and it gives some eye candy to ordinary grounds!

  4. I have not seen these at our Starbucks. Just plain brown bags here. 🙁 Buzzed in via Blog Explosion. Great site.

  5. Hi Melissa!
    Welcome! What a crazy Gravatar you have!
    Our Whole Foods store gives us fresh whole bean coffee in brown paper bags but the Starbucks I’ve visited in and around New York City all have the “plastic foil” bags.
    Usually the bags are an ugly and generic plain white with a “stamp” on them identifying what’s inside — but lately this Bag Art has been popping up and it’s pretty wild to see works of art completely wrapping around and enclosing your whole beans!
    I’m a big Blog Explosion fan, too!

  6. David-
    What happened to the whole read-only thing?
    Why is there such a discrepancy between the whole-beans the sell and the beans that they use in ther coffee/espresso drinks?
    At Peets, they use the same high quality beans in their drinks as are available for sell as whole beans. I dont go to Starbucks because I dont find their coffee (served not whole bean) to be particularly good and I find their corporate practices rather off-putting. Yes they have organice fair-trade coffee….but do they exted the same liberties to their own employees or other local coffee operations?

  7. Hi Jonathan!
    Nice to hear from you.
    The whole Read Only thing was rescinded in less than 18 hours due to reader outcry. You should stop by more often!
    I don’t buy the stuff Starbucks sells over-the-counter in a cup. I’d rather pay $9 for a pound of whole bean coffee than $8 for two 8 oz. cups of brewed coffee so I can’t address the taste discrepancy.
    Peets could have been Starbucks. They turned down a deal to be franchised and so Starbucks became the international brand to beat.
    I can’t speak to Starbucks personnel or corporate practices but our own Gordon Davidescu can. He happily worked there for a long while. If he worked at least 20 hours a week he had full health coverage. Gordon also liked Starbucks so much he hoped to get a full time management position so I guess they treated him well on both the East Coast and in Seattle.

  8. Jonathan,
    The beans starbucks sell are the exact same beans they use in making coffee drinks. Often times when we would run out of proper bagged espresso beans and someone would want espresso beans, we would weigh them out directly from the bullet bags we would use in our espresso machines.
    The beans we used in the drip coffee was also identical.
    The difference most often happens when you bring the beans home.
    For one, most people open up a bag of coffee beans and use it over the course of months. After the first two weeks the quality deteriorates significantly. Putting it in the refrigerator makes it worse.
    Also, it is imperative to grind right before you brew.
    Lastly, the best brewing is done in a french press. This will make even a less good coffee taste quite good.
    Using all of these techniques above I have found identical or sometimes on a good day better results than at starbucks.
    As for corporate practices, Starbucks is king. Starbucks was one of the first corporations to extend domestic partners health benefits (You will find many people working at starbucks who have domestic partners for this reason) for working only 20 hours per week. After one year they begin chipping in when you invest in starbucks stock. If I am not mistaken, after 10 years of working for them you are granted free beans (1 lb per week) for life.
    I go through about 1/2 a pound per week so that’s quite good 🙂 It took me 8 months after I quit to reach through the end of my coffee reserves.
    Incidentally, despite having so-so results with the last limited edition whole beans I went ahead and got the Sulawesi – for one, I like sulawesi and also, I guess I’m a little bit of a collector. (I know – go on.)

  9. Gordon-
    In my experience the coffee they serve (drip and espresso) is pretty poor, most people I talk to agree that Starbucks coffee is bitter and lacks body. The espresso has gotten worse since most of their outlets switched to the fully-automatic (‘push-button’) bars. The best coffee in the area at the best price comes from independenly owned coffee shops. The reason Starbucks has been successful is not because their coffee is good. In any given area that Starbucks is opening new business in that area over the next few years saturated with outlets to the point that they start competing with eachother for business. This is effectively puts a choke-hold on independents in the area. This is the Wal-Mart way, Starbucks has just taken it to the next level.
    Also, last time I check my local outlets did ~50% of their business pushing drinks that look little like coffee. I find it disgusting that kids can walk into their local Starbucks and then be encouraged to buy on of the over-the-frop Frappacino based drinks. What do they have to say about encouraging adult and childhood obesity?

  10. You’re telling me.
    One of the reasons I quit. They told me I ought to encourage the venti size for frappuccinos, explaining “50% more for 50 cents more”. The day I had a morbidly obese woman ordering one from her wheelchair – her weight put her there – order a venti frappuccino, I decided I had enough. It wasn’t long before I quit.
    I think, however, that if you look over the range of coffees – you will find many that are delicious and not at all bitter.
    The aged sumatra, for example – I could drink that coffee black and it was one of the best coffees I have ever had. I never drink coffee black – add soy milk (unsweetened) and this was great even without it.

  11. Gordon —
    Can you address some of the anti-union busting techniques Starbucks has used in the past and now to discourage that kind of unity?

  12. Early on, I think unions did a lot of good. Unfortunately it appears now that they have largely become corrupt and do not necessarily act on behalf of the people whom they purportedly represent.
    The biggest problem I have with a union is that it uses group coercive power to force all of its members into positions that they as individuals may not necessarily agree with.
    It is a collectivist force which, when it encounters dissent amongst its members (people who, by necessity of putting food on their plate, cross a strike line for example), crushes this dissent by any means necessary. People have been killed for crossing the picket line.
    I think people lose more money by being part of a union now than not being part of it – see here for example.

  13. Gordon!
    This is a fascinating take on unions. You should expand your argument a bit and publish it here as your second publication!

  14. I think you’re right! I’m still working on my go inside article at the moment but that would be great.
    Just hope I don’t get picketed. 🙂

  15. An anti-union article — with the hard angle you would take — would be a fascinating piece and I think it would get lots of comments on each side.

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