This spring, Black Coffee Roasting Company co-owner Jim Chapman slugged a few beers and gathered up his courage. He drafted an email to renowned English artist Ralph Steadmanthe man behind such works as the cover of Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegasand asked if he would be willing to illustrate the label of Black Coffee's seasonal coffee, The Hunt. It was a "dream big" moment.

"He got back to me the very next day," Chapman recalls. Steadman was in.

The label for The Hunt has remained pretty basic for the past two years. What Steadman came up with, after sampling the coffee, was far more creative: a drawing of a doe on a checkerboard floor, pulled from Steadman's collection for an illustrated Alice Through the Looking Glass, along with Steadman's trademark splotchy handwriting.

click to enlarge Missoula Independent news

"I've had people tell me they're going to frame it," Chapman says. Chapman also decided to turn The Hunt label into a T-shirt. "How often do I get the opportunity to make a tee with a Steadman on it?"

Steadman was a huge get for the small Missoula-based coffee company. Chapman only knows of two other businessesBonny Doon Vineyard in California and the Flying Dog Brewery in Marylandwho have landed Steadman as a label artist.

Black Coffee signed a two-year contract with Steadman for the arthe agreed to "a price we could afford," Chapman saysmeaning The Hunt will use the same label next fall. This season's batch will likely overlap on shelves with Black Coffee's winter seasonal, Drift, illustrated by Missoula's own Andy Smetanka.

Oh, and in case you were wondering: Chapman says Steadman loved the coffee.

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