By Mark V. Howley
There are a variety of pre-made packaging options for the specialty coffee market that ensure the coffee’s flavor will remain intact—without having to spend a fortune.
Some things never change. Case in point: The packaging problems many roasters face today are the same as they were in 1985. Roasters continually ask: How do I get a good package with a one-way valve to protect my coffee’s flavor without spending a fortune? How can I differentiate my roast with a stock bag? How can I communicate my message? How do I “get a bag/package” with my logo or custom design printed on the bag? What are the trends? What is available for environmentally friendly packaging?
The objective of this article is to provide a simple and visual overview of packaging options for specialty coffee markets and to point out trends and new packaging. It’s impossible to cover every subject and emerging trend, so the scope of this story is limited to pre-made bags. The concepts of preservation of coffee don’t change with automation, which is the right path for many roasters. Pre-made bags were chosen as the focus of the story because a large number of small and medium sized roasters can’t justify the cost of automation.
The biggest innovation is perhaps the introduction of the one-way degassing valve and the high barrier foil based laminated bags. It had a huge impact on the distribution of specialty coffees. When first introduced to the coffee market, trade organizations and roasters conducted extensive tests on oxygen transmission and coffee freshness.
The conclusion was unanimous: the one-way degassing valve combined with a good barrier bag protected coffees from oxidative deterioration and maintained roasted coffee freshness for months. Roasters could now pack roasted coffee while letting it de-gas in the bag—that was new and exciting! Small- and medium-size artisan roasters in U.S. markets immediately started to expand distribution and grow. The race was on! We have witnessed an explosion in specialty and artisan-roasted coffee.
Coffee Stock Bag Programs
How do I get a good barrier packaging with a one-way valve without spending a fortune? Coffee stock bag programs today are a mature and expanding product line. The most common stock-bag format for specialty coffee is the high barrier side-gusseted bag with a one-way valve. There are numerous suppliers offering abundant options for color, bag size and format (i.e., side gusseted bag, flat pouches,stand up pouches, etc.).
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