If you’re a dedicated artisanal coffee roaster who goes to the trouble of sourcing the highest quality beans from the best origins before roasting them to perfection, you don’t want to let yourself down with poor packaging. Here’s a guide to the key points you need to pay attention to.
This article about choosing packaging for coffee is a guest post for Ateriet.
Why is packaging important?
If you run an artisanal roastery, there’s a good chance you became involved in the coffee industry through your love for the bean. Perhaps it was your long-held dream to bring top-quality coffee from around the world to your local neighborhood.
You might have learned everything there is to know about origins, varietals, altitudes, processing methods and a whole lot more, but perhaps the marketing side of the business is not your strong point. After all, the exceptional quality of your product should sell itself, right?
Your packaging serves a number of purposes, all of which are vital to the success of your business. Packaging determines how your customers perceive your company, and the images and colors you choose are what they associate with your product.
Your packaging is at the forefront of your marketing strategy, and it should communicate clearly your company values and the quality of your product to potential buyers.
At the same time, it needs to ensure that the quality is maintained so when people buy your coffee, they will come back to buy again.
In short, packaging is not something that can be overlooked or treated as an afterthought – you need to get it right.
Types of packaging
When it comes to the types of packaging you can choose, there are several distinct options available, each with associated advantages and disadvantages.
* Side fold bag
This is a simple, traditional style of bag. The main advantage is that it is one of the least expensive options and is popular with roasters who deal with large volumes of coffee. However, it isn’t freestanding and is often less eye-catching than some other options.
* Quad bag
This bag looks similar to the side fold bag, but the four corners are sealed, making it sturdier and thus freestanding. This can have the effect of making it appear to be a higher-quality, premium product.
The doypack is another step up again in terms of giving the impression of being a high-quality, small-batch product – coffee sold in doypacks can seem rarer and more exclusive. They are characterized by a rounded bottom and smaller top; they look attractive when displayed as freestanding items.
Selling coffee in paper bags can emphasize the artisanal nature of your business. This is also one of the least expensive options, but it will not keep your coffee in optimum condition for long and should only be considered for coffee that will be consumed quickly after purchase.
As mentioned before, you need to think about how you want your brand to be perceived and choose the design of your packaging accordingly.
There are so many factors to consider when choosing the colors and imagery of the packaging, but in general, remember that your customers will be confronted by an array of options when deciding which coffee to purchase and you need something that stands out and communicates clearly.
Above all, don’t confuse your potential buyers or they will just pass over your product in favor of something that appears easier to understand.
The strength of artisanal roasters compared to large-scale companies lies in the uniqueness and high quality of the product. You carefully research your suppliers and painstakingly select your beans to ensure the best possible cup for your customers.
Make sure all that relevant information you use when choosing beans is clearly displayed on the package because if it was important to you when sourcing the beans, you can be sure it’s important for the person buying the coffee from you.
Make sure details like the farm, the varietal, the altitude and the processing method as well as tasting notes are plainly marked and easy to find. Make sure the roasting date is on there too – not just a “best by” date.
If you are selling freshly-roasted whole coffee beans (or even pre-ground coffee) you will need bags with a one-way valve. This allows the CO2 created during roasting to escape after they have been sealed in the bag.
You also need to consider the type of barrier that will protect the beans in the bag from the four enemies of coffee – moisture, heat, light and air.
You can choose metalized or aluminum 3-ply laminate barriers or 2-ply plastic ones. The former is now very common, but it is not the most ecological choice. If you promote your coffee as environmentally-friendly, 2-ply plastic bags are recyclable and better fit your philosophy.
Ease of filling
For small-scale, manual operations, bags that are easy to fill can save you time – but if and when you decide to scale up, this becomes a vital consideration.
When you move to semi-automatic or fully-automated filling, you will need to make sure your bags are compatible with the rest of your equipment.
There are some other options available when you choose your bags, and these can depend on who you are selling to. Consider whether your customers are private individuals brewing their coffee at home or coffee shop owners who require larger volumes of coffee.
One such option is the inclusion of a resealable zipper. For home customers buying small amounts of coffee, this is a very useful inclusion that works well with both doypacks and quad bags. This type of customer will appreciate the possibility of keeping their coffee fresher with no extra effort.
However, coffee shop staff who simply open the bag and pour the beans into the hopper of a machine will not benefit from this addition and it will only drive up the price of your coffee.
A lot to consider
As you can see, choosing the packaging for your coffee is a hugely important part of your business and shouldn’t be taken lightly. There is a lot to consider, but if you take the time to do it right, it is something that will help you immensely as your company grows.
Kathy Gallo is a full-time coffee enthusiast who spends her time learning everything there is to know about her favorite drink. She is an expert on the coffee industry and loves nothing more than writing about her discoveries in the hope of sharing her knowledge with as many others as possible.
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