Don’t overlook the importance of your roasted coffee bags. Your choice of packaging will affect the coffee’s freshness, your own efficiency in operations, how your product stands out (or not!) on the shelves, and how your brand is positioned.
It’s a powerful tool for your business. So, are you sure that your current bag is the best option for you?
Corina Ye, Account Manager at MT Pak, a packaging manufacturer specialising in roasted coffee bags, and Barbara Croce, Managing Director at Gold Box Roastery UK and one of MT Pak’s customers, agreed to talk me through some common roasted coffee bag types on the market and what roasters should ask themselves when choosing between them.
Lee este artículo en español Empaque Del Café Tostado: Tipos de Bolsas Para Elegir
Bag with folded bottom: Credit: MT Pak
Four Common Coffee Bag Types
While there is a wide range of coffee bags on the market, here are four types that each serve very different purposes.
1. Stand-Up Pouches/Doypacks
“The stand-up pouch is a very normal coffee bag in the market,” says Corina, emphasising that it tends to be cheaper than some of the other options.
These bags are made of two panels and a bottom gusset, giving them a triangular shape. They also often feature a resealable zipper that can help keep the coffee fresher for longer, even once the bag has been opened. This combination of low prices and good quality make stand-up pouches a popular choice among small- to medium-sized roasters.
The bottom gusset also allows the bag to stand up on the shelf and there is plenty of room for branding. A talented designer can work with this style to create an eye-catching bag.
“Roasters can easily fill the coffee from the top,” Corina adds. The wide opening makes it easy and efficient to do so, helping operations to run quickly and smoothly.
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A stand-up pouch with custom print. Credit: MT Pak
2. Flat-Bottom Pouches
“This kind of bag is very beautiful,” Corina says. Its square design allows it to stand unassisted, giving it a prominent shelf presence and, depending on the material, a modern appearance. MT Pak’s versions also come with a pocket zipper, which Corina explains is “more convenient to reseal”.
Plus, with its side gussets, it can hold more coffee in a smaller bag. In turn, this makes it more efficient to store and transport, and better for the environment.
This is the bag that Gold Box Roastery opts for, but Barbara also makes sure that they purchase one with a valve “so coffee can gas off and age the way it should”. Shelf life is a priority for her. “Also,” she adds, “the zipper allows [customers] to use a small amount of coffee and then reseal the bag, so it’s keeping it fresh.”
The only downside to this bag is that it’s more complicated to make, so it tends to be a little pricier. Roasters need to weigh up the advantages in branding and freshness against the cost and decide if it is worth it for them.
A flat-bottom pouch with a resealable pocket zipper. Credit: MT Pak
3. Side-Gusset Bags
This is a more traditional bag, and still one of the most popular. It’s also known as a side-fold bag. It is a strong, durable option well-suited to larger quantities of coffee. “Most clients choose this style when they need to pack many grams of coffee, like 5 lb,” Corina tells me.
These types of bags tend to have a flat bottom, meaning they can stand on its own – when there’s coffee inside them. Corina points out that the empty bags can only do so if they have a folded bottom.
They are printable on all sides, making them easy to brand. They also tend to be less costly than other options. On the other hand, they don’t feature zippers. Usually, they are closed by rolling or folding them and using adhesive tape or a tin tie. Although they are easy to close this way, it’s important to remember that this is not as effective as a zipper and so coffee beans usually won’t stay fresh for as long.
Kraft paper and white gusset bags with custom print. Credit: MT Pak
4. Flat Pouches/Pillow Bags
These bags come in many sizes, but they are most commonly seen as single-serve packaging. “If roasters want to have a small bag, like a sample for their customers, they can choose this kind of bag,” Corina says.
Although these bags tend to be small, their entire surface can be printed on, offering good branding opportunities. However, keep in mind that this type of bag needs support in order to stay erect. You will need a platform or stand of some variety if you wish to display it on an exhibition booth, for example.
A sample-sized flat pouch with a tear notch. Credit: MT Pak
What Other Factors Should You Consider?
Here are a few more things that you should keep in mind when purchasing your packaging:
- The Filling Process: Bags with a small opening can take longer to open and fill than ones with wider openings. Whether you choose to fill your bags manually or with an automatic filling machine, make sure to analyse your processes and how much time this consumes.
- A Degassing Valve: Sealed bags without a valve usually inflate and can even explode. A degassing valve allows the carbon dioxide that roasted coffee releases to escape the sealed bags. It’s a one-way valve: carbon dioxide goes out, but oxygen doesn’t come in. However, keep in mind that your bags need to be completely sealed for this to be effective, so make sure to invest in a good heat sealer.
- A Tear Notch: It’s a simple addition that allows for better and quicker access to your product.
- A Zipper or Tin Tie: To keep coffee fresh, bags should be resealable after being opened. A zipper is a user-friendly option that creates an airtight seal. You can also opt for tin ties. Although they are not airtight, they do a fair job of keeping oxygen out and are also easy to use.
- The Supplier: Will your supplier give you genuine advice? What will happen if there is a problem? Barbara stresses the value of a good supplier. “Honestly, in terms of a trustworthy, reliable supplier, I’ll never go anywhere else,” she says. “I wouldn’t go because I know that if I’ve got a problem it’s going to be rectified.”
- Sustainability: Most coffee packaging is made of aluminium, paper, polyethene, and other multi-laminates. As coffee is sensitive to external factors such as oxygen, moisture, and UV, packaging must have barriers, which usually are a 3-ply or 2-ply laminates. However, with growing pressure from consumers, it’s worth looking into sustainable options.
For example, Corina tells me that MT Pak makes industry-compostable bags out of corn starch. “The shelf life is about 10-12 months and of course, it is also a food-grade bag,” she says. They are also printable, resistant to fats and oils as well as UV light, and have a high-aroma barrier.
There’s a lot to consider when selecting your coffee packaging: cost, operations, durability, presentation and branding, sustainability, valves, resealability, supplier, and more. But the most important thing to do is research your options, understand what your company needs, and select the packaging that best suits your goals.
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Written by Gisselle Guerra. Feature photo credit: MT Pak
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