Bitter Grounds Magazine

espresso fueled ramblings

Designing a logo for Bitter Grounds – it’s not that easy

Written by catpaw

April 17, 2020

After over a decade of blogging, I’ve decided to design a logo for the magazine. Better late than never, n’est pas? And, let me tell you, it’s not as easy as you think.

Creating a mood

I’ve gone through dozens of design ideas, most best left unseen. I sat down and rethought what image I wanted to convey at first glance.  That took a lot of reflection.  For years I’ve avoided using a coffee motif, because I thought it was too cliched, but after looking through the site and slogan ‘espresso fueled ramblings’ I realised I was wrong. A carefully picked espresso graphic would enhance a logo.

Colours, colours, colours

Oh boy, this one is a difficult one. I’ve been struggling with a colour palette for the site for a long time. I’ve gone through dozens and still can’t seem to settle on one that tweaks my visual cortex. I gravitate to earth tones, and tend to be over reliant on them. I’m still experimenting so expect the logo colours and basic colour layout on this site to change over time.

I discarded my first try at using espresso colours. They ended up being bland looking and muted. So I’ve settled, temporarily, on a basic black background/white font design. This tends to pop a bit more on the screen.

Fonts and layout

This was a tough one. Far more difficult than the rest. Choosing the right font makes or breaks a design. I’m not a professional graphic artist. At best, I can be described as an enthusiastic amateur.  This process has increased my admiration for people who design as a living.  You can’t slap any old font down and say “Oh done!”.

I tried about 20 different ones – serif and sans. I have a preference for San serif fonts because I like the overall simplicity many display. I fired up Adobe Spark because it helps novice designers with basic ideas and played around with ideas. One font and layout caught my eye – Bebas Neue by Ryoichi Tsunekawa. I really like his fonts. They have a linear,  geometric feel.

Bebas Neue font used on wording for Bitter Grounds Magazine

Now that I had a typeface, what was I supposed to do with it? Once again Spark came to my rescue. They had a basic layout idea that worked well, but only if I used a lot of ‘white space’. The liberal use of bold and regular drew in my eye, along with the satisfying spacing between letters.

Putting the logo together

So I had the graphic, the font and the basic layout. It was time to potter around with it.  Before I show the finished version, here’s one of the earlier incarnations I made:

First Logo attempt for Bitter Grounds Magazine

I really like the drip down effect, but overall? It just didn’t work. The logo isn’t readable if it’s shrunk down and it just isn’t right. I’m going to go back at it later to see if I can correct the readability issues, but for now, it’s on the back shelf.

And here is what I opted for:

Final logo design

Ticks all the boxes: simplicity, spacing, balanced and clean. It shrinks and expands beautifully. Best of all, it works with banners like this:

New header for website

Hmm, yes, I do gravitate towards the darker images, don’t I.

And this:

Logo variation

This last one is an idea I’m working on for the vlog. The straight black and white logo plays well with colours so it has potential. Though, I think the espresso graphic in the previous image works better so that’s the one I’ll keep using.

And there we have it. My first logo for Bitter Grounds. Like all things, it will change as I become more confident in designing, but for now, I’m quite happy with it.


To see more of Ryoichi Tsunekawa’s work check out Dharma Type at

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