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Published, Apr 27, 2022

Coffee Rituals: Ross Imms & Alex Rowse, A-Side Studio

Welcome to Coffee Rituals, our new series exploring the individuals who savour speciality coffee. Because to us, coffee is always about the individual and how they choose to drink it.

At Origin, we simply focus on making the coffee the best it can be. You bring your own unique approach to the experience by choosing your desired brew method and cup to drink from. That cup is at the heart of each of our own rituals...

Ross Imms and Alex Rowse founded A-Side in 2002. They’ve grown slowly from their countercultural beginnings into an agency of creative souls using the power of brand communication and art direction to make a positive impact on the world that surrounds them.
Their work spans many sectors and surfaces, yet everything they do is underpinned by the same process. They balance careful strategic thinking, playfulness and a love of our craft to build brands and campaigns which are equipped to thrive.

"I remember reading a friend’s skate magazine on the school bus. One double-page spread had the same photo repeated twice, but neither was of the complete image. I just remember staring at it and wondering why it was like that. I flicked to the front and saw that it was by David Carson. It was the first time I’d been aware of and questioned design and the effect it can have."

- Ross Imms

Today, A-Side is a team of eight strong working from Cornwall's largest creative hub, Krowji, which provides studios and workspaces for a wide range of creative businesses at the Old Grammar School buildings in Redruth. Wandering into their studio, you'll find Origin memorabilia everywhere. The team obtained a repurposed, commercial batch brewer and grinder in 2015, which is used religiously by the team.
To prepare their coffee each day, Alex coarsely grind 60g of coffee and place it inside a fresh filter paper in the drip compartment on the machine. He then adds 1 litre of fresh water into the water tank to boil and allows it to slowly drip through the filter for 2-3 minutes, before pouring the freshly brewed coffee into his tempered glass tumbler.
Ross drinks from a circa 2005 Origin mug with the original logo printed vertically on the side (pictured below). These original colours had a retro feel which was popular at the time the logo was designed. Tonally it had hints of beach culture, with soft edges due to the local lifestyle, which was influenced by Alex and Ross background in surfing.

Ross and Alex's design story started when they worked together on Alex’s final course project at university - Shelf magazine. The mag was inspired by LowDown from Berlin, which had a cross-over between music and skate subculture. This was just the start.
Shortly after this Alex went to work for Absolute Design, an agency in Truro, Cornwall. When Ross graduated he headed there too, albeit for a shorter period. During this time the pair were trying to do a lot of London-centric work. They were able to get a lot of progressive work through but were trying to push it as far as they could.
They were yoyo-ing up and down to London during their free time. Ross’ freelance work was building nicely, with work in Pictoplasma (character design), being published in Los logos and some work for Ben Sherman. His main focus was trying to find interesting clients and was using basic broadband to work on his jobs from Cornwall. Alex’s time at Absolute was a great opportunity working with some really good people, honing his skills.

Towards the end of Alex’s time at Absolute Design in 2004, Tom Sobey (Origin's Owner & Founder) approached them and talked about starting a coffee company. One of the names he was thinking of was ‘Origin’.
As the brand kicked off, Tom then met with Ross as he'd heard that he was making a name for himself in illustration and print materials. He had set up a studio above a surf shop in the centre of Falmouth, with the Stranger team in the front room and him tucked away in the back. There was also a surfboard ding repair guy downstairs – he’d listen to techno really loudly and the fumes would mean they had to abandon the studio some afternoons. It was perfect. It was raw, back-to-basics, back to their roots. This was the catalyst to Alex joining him in what would become A-Side Studio.

Recently, A-Side joined Origin as a Certified B Corp; the gold standard of sustainability in business, and a trusted symbol for those who balance profit and purpose to safeguard the environment and help communities thrive. Alex says that "Becoming a B Corp has given us a framework which holds us accountable, it gives us the tools and knowledge to help guide our clients and collaborators to see further and do better."
"As an ethos, it [B Corp] touches everything we do. From supporting charities, NGOs and cultural activities, stepping up to the challenge of running a zero waste studio, working to support our local economy, rehoming our old kit and buying second hand, composting our food scraps, and maintaining a studio culture which makes A-Side a healthy and rewarding place of work."
For more information on A-Side, including a select portfolio of their work, check out their website, and Instagram account,