Should Packaging For Single Origin Coffee Be Different To A Blend?

Nick Sebas
December 16, 2020
single origin vs coffee blend

The popularity of single origin coffee has skyrocketed in recent years. Thanks in part to growing interest in the connection between a coffee’s flavour and its “story”, consumers are increasingly turning to single origin coffees over coffee blends.

However, for roasters used to supplying a coffee blend, the growing popularity of single origin coffee poses an important question: does the packaging need to be different?

Read on to find out how you can adapt your packaging to suit both single origin coffees and coffee blends.

See also: What Is Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE)?

single origin coffee

What Is Single Origin Coffee?

As global interest in specialty coffee has grown, single origin coffee has become increasingly widespread. What was once limited to a handful of roasters can now be found in virtually every major city in the world, with large coffee chains such as Starbucks and Peet’s having taken to offering it on their menus.

The third wave movement, which refers to a higher culinary appreciation of coffee, has pushed single origin coffee into ever-greater popularity. Among other changes, it has seen consumers turn their interests to the distinct characteristics resulting from variations in the cultivation, processing, and roasting methods of coffee beans. 

But what exactly is single origin coffee? Put simply, it is a term used to denote a coffee from a specific variety of coffee plant, from a specific farm. However, it can also be used as a broader term to describe coffee from one country.

Each single origin coffee usually carries distinct and complex flavour notes, with many roasters preferring a light or medium roast profile to bring out the unique qualities of the bean. The flavour profile for single origin coffees differs from one region to the next because of a variety of factors, including soil, climate, altitude, and shade.

These flavours, whether floral, fruity or caramel, will be far more discernible when single origin coffee is brewed than in a coffee blend, as they aren’t mixed with beans from other regions.

For many specialty coffee consumers, a defining characteristic of single origin coffee is its traceability and provenance. When a coffee is fully traceable, the consumer can learn more not only about the flavour notes of the coffee, but also about the people behind the process.

Packaging for single origin coffee typically includes a label that indicates where it’s grown, the coffee’s variety, how it has been roasted, and the name of the producer or cooperative behind the coffee. It may also include tasting notes, as well as more specific information about the coffee, such as the altitude at which it was grown.

What Is A Coffee Blend?

A coffee blend comprises coffee beans originating from two or more places. Blends are generally made with no more than five different coffees, with one coffee making up a significant proportion of the blend, known as the “base”.

The aim of a blend is to take the best individual characteristics from each bean to create a consistent, reliable, and balanced flavour that specialty coffee consumers will keep coming back for. 

Brazilian and Ethiopian beans, for example, might be combined to balance the body and nuttiness of a Brazilian coffee with the acidity and complexity of an Ethiopian coffee.

Coffee blends typically work well in espresso-based drinks, such as lattes and cappuccinos, in which the milk complements the “approachable” taste of the coffee, providing a predictable outcome for the consumer. They tend to be favoured by roasters looking for a consistent flavour profile year on year.

Typically, coffee roasters who are building blends will be guided by a target roast profile rather than maintaining the distinct flavour of each bean.

coffee packaging

What Else Should You Consider For Coffee Packaging?

While the differences between single origin coffee and coffee blends are clear, roasters should consider a number of other important variables when deciding which packaging to choose.

Bartholomew Jones is the owner of Cxffeeblack, a US-based social enterprise that focuses on highlighting the prominence of black history in coffee. He explains that, from his experience, whether coffee is single origin or a blend should not influence the packaging you choose.

“Personally, I haven’t noticed any specific differences in how single origin and coffee blends are affected [by packaging]. It is more about how quickly one can pack the beans after roasting.”

Minimising the time between roasting and packaging is key to preserving freshness. This is because when coffee beans come into contact with oxygen, the soluble flavour compounds start to oxidise, in turn causing the flavour and aroma to degrade.

Another important factor to consider when deciding on packaging for both single origin coffee and coffee blends is the inclusion of a degassing valve.

After coffee is roasted, it gradually releases carbon dioxide (CO2) in the days that follow. While 40% of CO2 typically escapes within the first 24 hours after roasting, degassing continues when the coffee is eventually packaged.

A degassing valve is a one-way vent that allows the CO2 to escape without letting oxygen enter the bag. This preserves the freshness of the coffee, and ensures the bag does not rupture in transit.

Coffee blends may benefit from the inclusion of a degassing valve, even if they aren’t expected to spend long in transit. That’s because different varieties of coffee will degas at different speeds, which can make it more difficult to predict than for single origin coffee. 

At MTPak Coffee, we offer BPA-free and recyclable degassing valves on our packaging, whether for single origin or a coffee blend. The degassing valves can either be integrated into the packaging during manufacture, or added to the bag separately.

coffee packaging

If you’d like to provide customers with everything they need to know about the contents of each bag, from the source and altitude to the roast profile and flavour notes, we can help throughout the entire process.

We offer a range of customisable labels, pouches, and taste cards, regardless of whether you offer single origin coffee or a coffee blend. For single origin coffee in particular, it gives roasters an opportunity to inform their customers about the provenance of the beans, and the people behind its production. 

What’s more, with MTPak Coffee, you can select from a whole host of different materials and features, including degassing valves and zippers, to ensure the coffee inside arrives to the customer as fresh as possible.

To discuss packaging options for both single origin coffee and coffee blends, contact our team.

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