Case Study: Hikers Brew Coffee (Eau Claire, Wisconsin)

by Tap Marketing February 13, 2020

What do you do when you notice a lack of sustainable options in the outdoor coffee industry? You start your own business! That’s exactly what Zach Pecha did in March of 2016 at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire.

He realized that the options for on-the-go coffee in the great outdoors were few and far between. And, there were even less options that could be considered sustainable. So, he set out to create a company that offered coffee in a small, compostable package, making it the perfect way for outdoor enthusiasts, backpackers, weekend warriors, and more to enjoy that fresh cup of coffee while out on the trail.

Head-on image of all four boxes of Hiker's Brew flavors sitting side by side

We talked with Zach to learn more about his sustainable company, why he chose Tap Packaging, and where he hopes to see his brand in the future.

1. Tell us a little bit about your company and how it came to be?

Hikers Brew Coffee is a sustainable outdoor brewing coffee company known for our sustainable pouches that hold coffee grounds ideal for backpackers, weekend warriors, or outdoorsmen of all types. It came about from just being an outdoor enthusiast and seeing the type of packaging that was already out there. It was either packaging that was bad for the environment or single-use, instant brew coffee that didn’t taste great. We wanted to create a package that would allow you to take your coffee outdoors and give you a multi-use, sustainable alternative.

Side view of Red Rocks flavor from Hiker's Brew2. Who would you say is Hikers Brew’s target audience?

Our target audience, when looking at Instagram, are probably those between the ages of 24-36. But really, it’s those people who want to get outdoors. It doesn’t have to be just your weekend warriors. We want to be comparable to a company like Cliff Bars – something that can be used and enjoyed by a wider audience. You don’t have to be a pro backpacker. This is just meant for those who want to live that life of being outdoors.

3. What was your inspiration for the design of these boxes?

We were in a few local retail stores, but our packaging didn’t really stand out or explain anything about our mission or who we are. Now, our new packaging has topography maps of our favorite places and hiking trails in the U.S. and all the flavors have different symbols of various activities that promote that activity, outdoor lifestyle. We really wanted our packaging to stand out on retail shelves and make a customer say ‘Wait, what’s that?’. We also decided the boxes to look like one full unit when the set is next to each other. The mountain range is designed to flow across each box and make it all look like one unit.

4. Sustainability is something that is important to your company. Can you talk about why it’s so important and how your company actively tries to be as sustainable as possible?

Side view of Mile Market flavor box from Hiker's Brew with top open and coffee pouches insideWe started 4 years ago, at the end of my freshman year of college and worked on it through our college years. During that time, sustainability was something that really caught our interest because you see all these videos of things like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. We wanted a package that wouldn’t be impacting the world in that way and that wouldn’t contribute to landfills. We designed it to break down quicker than standard packaging. In ideal conditions, it can break down in a matter of 90 days so that it impacts the environment less. And we thought if we can start with a product that was sustainable from the beginning, why couldn’t other, bigger companies do the same?

5. The packaging shows that you’re a One Tree Planted partner. Can you tell us a little about that campaign?

For every order, $1 is donated to the One Tree Planted initiative which helps to plant trees all over the world. They’ve specifically helped to plant trees in California last year after the wildfires and now Australia this year. In total, we’ve helped to plant about 1000 to 1200 trees so far.

6. What made you choose Tap to produce your packaging?

It was actually a referral from Bearded Brothers after we did a giveaway together. We worked with the owner who referred Tap Packaging. Tap was a really great resource to help us move in the direction that we wanted our brand to move in.

7. How was your experience working with Tap?

Super good. Anytime I had a question, Gabe reached back right away and was always on top of the game. Liam in design was great too. It was great having two companies who could work together and make sure everything was cohesive and that was awesome. 10/10 would definitely recommend.

Side view of Hazy Hiker flavor box from Hiker's Brew

8. Where do you hope to see your brand in five years?

I hope we move into something that’s more of a household brand, something that a broader audience would know about. We’d really like to get into outdoor stores, grocery stores, ski resorts, or even outdoorsy hotels. But, we want to be a brand that is viewed as a smaller brand, a smaller-made brand that’s known by a broader audience. We want to be available to more people and be a sustainable company that everyone can use and enjoy while out backpacking or even while in the office.

9. Where can someone find your products or learn more about your company?

You can find our products at or on Amazon. You can also follow us on social media.

Instagram – @hikersbrew

Twitter - @hikersbrew

Facebook – Hikers Brew

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