Excitement is brewing over a new collaboration between UWM and Milwaukee’s own Colectivo: UW-Milwaukee’s Panther Blend. Starting with fall semester, school spirit now tastes like coffee with a medium body and rich notes of plum, dark chocolate and Concord grape.
“We are always looking for new ways to make connections with the community — our whole Panther family, with students, faculty, staff, alumni and people with ties to the university,” said Kevin O’Connor, UWM licensing director. “Co-branding a coffee with cool artwork on the bag with a local company is a fun and approachable way to connect with people.”
The Panther Blend’s flavor profile was crafted in a way to appeal to all coffee drinkers, according to Marissa Worzella, Colectivo’s communications and strategic partnership director. The coffee is Mexico fair trade/organic Kulaktik, a collective that Colectivo has worked with for almost 25 years.
Twelve-ounce bags of Panther Blend can be purchased at Colectivo’s Milwaukee-area cafes and online until the end of the year. For each bag purchased, $1 will be donated toward scholarships for UWM students.
Following the release last year of Colectivo’s Milwaukee Bucks-themed Bucks in 6! blend, O’Connor reached out to the coffee chain in the hopes of working on a similar product for UWM. The Panther Blend is UWM’s second “branded consumables” collaboration, as O’Connor calls it: Last year, UWM and Milwaukee Brewing Co. worked together on a Panther Pilsner.
The pairing of UWM school spirit and Colectivo coffee seemed inevitable, Worzella said.
“It just seems like such a natural connection,” Worzella said after noting that she could see campus from the window in her Riverwest office. “A crazy fun fact is our marketing team has five full-time employees and one intern, and other than our VP of marketing, the rest of us are UWM alums. The Panther Blend collaboration has been a really fun project for us, especially considering we all have that Panther pride.”
The bag’s design — 1960’s era Pounce, complete with a bulky sweater — was created by a UWM 1985 alum, Kevin Callahan, senior graphic artist at Colectivo. For his designs, Callahan drew inspiration from the culture and people of the region the coffee comes from. He drew from a feeling of school spirit for this design.
“I wanted to create something that people would look at and feel some pride about,” Callahan said. “I just wanted to pump UWM alums up and show people that this is a pretty cool place and pretty cool bag — something that people want to hold in their hands and take home.”