By DON NELSON
A new brand called Lariat Coffee Roasters debuted last weekend in Winthrop with a stylish logo and distinct packaging, but everything else about the product will be familiar to coffee fans inside the valley and beyond.
Lariat is the new moniker – and marketing theme – for Backcountry Coffee Roasters, which was founded in 2006 by Lori Loomis and Bob Gamblin.
With the rebranding, Backcountry is out, Lariat is in. The glossy revamped packages (still 16 ounces) had already started showing up in local stores within hours after the new name was revealed Saturday during an open house at the company’s roasting facility and store on Horizon Flats Road.
The change has been in the works for several months, Loomis said at Saturday’s event.
“We wanted to redefine and upscale the brand,” Loomis said, “and also embrace the Old West flavor of Winthrop.”
The company’s traditional blends will remain the same, but two will be renamed: Smokejumper blend (an Italian roast) is now Wild Stallion, and the Cougar house blend will now be called 16 Hands (a reference to a standard measure of how tall a horse is).
Cowboy Mud, a French roast that Loomis called their signature blend, won’t undergo a name change.
Loomis said Backcountry had become a “diluted brand” as it has been adopted by other roasters as a blend name. And Backcountry was often misspelled, she said.
Lariat is “short, easy to spell and sticks with the Old West theme,” Loomis said.
The new logo – a stylized horse’s head – was designed by local artist Mary Sharman, who had also designed the deer logo the company adopted years ago for Backcountry.
“We were looking for the same visual impact as when you buy wine,” Loomis said of the new logo and packaging, noting that many wine buyers are attracted to distinctive logos.
Along with the new brand will come a new website, featuring a photo of wild horses taken in eastern Oregon by local photographer Carolyn Edson. The photo is also used on the company’s printed marketing materials and business cards.
Gamblin said Backcountry has been stocked in about 20 retail outlets and the new Lariat packaging will soon replace the old.
Loomis and Gamblin filed for the Lariat trademark last October but approval didn’t come until June, Gamblin said. They managed to keep the changes under wraps, although Loomis noted that she had offered a cryptic hint about what was coming by ordering the vanity license plate “LARIAT” for her SUV.