Flat Bottom Pouches vs Stand-Up Pouches: Which Is Best For Coffee?

Janice Kanniah
May 4, 2021
flat bottom pouch

Coffee packaging has come a long way over the years. From beeswax treated sacks to the flexible pouches of today, it’s now easier than ever to safely transport and store roasted coffee.

Two of the most popular types of coffee packaging are flat bottom pouches and stand-up pouches. Convenient, sturdy, and cost-effective, they offer specialty roasters a reliable way of preserving and protecting their coffee to maximise customer satisfaction.

However, while they have a number of similarities, each pouch also offers its own distinct set of pros and cons. To find out more, I spoke with MTPak Coffee’s Senior Account Manager, Corina Ye.

See also: What Should Roasters Prioritise When Choosing Coffee Packaging?

flat bottom coffee pouch

What Are Flat Bottom Coffee Pouches?

A flat-bottom pouch is a five-sided, free-standing pouch with a flat, rectangular base. It has material for greater space and strength, known as gussets, on both the left and right side of the pouch, with a fastener on top.

Most flat bottom pouches are made with multiple layers to protect against external factors such as light, oxygen, moisture, and heat. 

Versatile and spacious, flat bottom pouches are popular among those with a strong brand identity thanks to their large printable surface. On the shelf, they act as an effective marketing tool for roasters, with a sturdy structure, flat front-facing side, and sufficient space for labels.

“Flat bottom pouches are relatively new to the market and have become particularly popular for high-end food packaging,” Corina explains. “While they’re generally more expensive than other types of flexible packaging, they’re aesthetic, versatile, and convenient.”

These are all important factors for consumers. Recent studies by management consulting firm McKinsey & Company show that convenient packaging tops the list of priorities for most consumers. 

“The consumer’s changing behavior and lifestyles have imposed new demands on packaged goods,” David Feber writes. “For example, reducing the preparation time of food and enabling ‘portionability,’ portability, and smaller individual packs. Packaging design has played an important role in fulfilling these requirements by incorporating, for example, easy-to-open and resealable closures.”

Indeed, flat bottom pouches are usually sealed with a pocket or top open zipper. Pocket zippers sit inside the bag and have a pull tab to open the pouch. Once the tab is removed, pressing the zipper reseals the pouch, helping prevent exposure to oxygen.

Their narrow design also means they take up less space during storage, shelving, and transportation. Compared to paper boxes, they use 30% less material, making them a good option for roasters looking to reduce waste.

stand-up coffee pouch

What Are Stand-Up Coffee Pouches?

Stand-up pouches are a lightweight, flexible, and space-efficient option for specialty coffee roasters. Available in a variety of sizes, materials, and finishes, stand-up pouches for coffee are usually multilayered to preserve freshness and prevent the pouch from splitting.

Stand-up pouches differ from other pouches in that they have a W-shaped gusset at the base that can be opened up to form a sturdy, free-standing bottom. Some stand-up pouches for coffee have features such as spouts or resealable zippers. Most will use a degassing valve to preserve the freshness of the product inside.

For added convenience, roasters can choose to include a tear notch, or “easy tear” option, to make opening the coffee as simple and efficient for customers as possible. 

Like flat-bottom pouches, stand-up pouches remain upright without help when filled with product. They have a single bottom gusset and none at the sides. This means they only have a front and back panel for advertising space. 

“Stand-up pouches stand on their own with a durable bottom gusset,” Corina says. “They can be sealed with a zip closure to keep the pouch as airtight as possible.”

As they use even less material compared to flat bottom pouches, SUPs are a more affordable choice. Their light-weight properties also make transporting and storing them more affordable. Despite this, as it has no side gussets it has more of a limit to the volume it can store.

sustainable coffee packaging

Flat Bottom vs Stand-Up Pouches

Both flat bottom and stand-up pouches can easily integrate essentials such as degassing valves, added layers, and a variety of sealing options. They’re also equally suited to eco-friendly materials such as kraft paper, polylactic acid (PLA), and LDPE (low-density polyethylene).

Despite this, Corina says that flat bottom and stand-up pouches offer distinct benefits. She tells me that in her experience, flat bottom bags are more popular as they have a larger opening, making them easier and quicker for roasters to fill. 

The five printable sides also make them a good choice for those who want their product to stand out on the shelf regardless of the angle at which they’re viewed.

Stand-up pouches on the other hand may not have the same marketing potential, but according to Corina they are much more affordable than flat bottom pouches.

“From a cost perspective, the economic option is stand-up pouches,” she says. “The process of manufacturing them is cheaper and less complicated because it doesn’t require two sets of plates. If you’re pursuing avant-garde, stylish and attractive packaging and have a bigger budget, flat bottom pouches are probably the better option.”

As stand-up pouches support smaller weights and cost less to make, they could suit roasters selling coffee for the first time. Wherever branding is less important, such as for coffee subscriptions, they’re a more appropriate option.

For more established brands selling several coffees, flat bottom pouches might be a better choice, while they’re also favoured by those who are selling large quantities of coffee.

sustainable coffee packaging

For specialty roasters, it’s important to choose the right coffee packaging. Not only does it need to protect your coffee and preserve its freshness, it should also reflect brand identity and fit within budget.

At MTPak Coffee, we can help you find the perfect coffee pouches for your brand, whether selling ground or whole bean. Our range of sustainable flat bottom and stand-up pouches can be fully customised to your requirements, while you can also choose from a selection of components including degassing valves and resealable zippers.

For more information on our stand-up and flat bottom coffee pouches, contact our team here.

MTPak Coffee

Photo credits: MTPak Coffee, Cottonbro

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Janice Kanniah
Janice Kanniah

Janice is freelance writer based in South Africa and has written for MTPak Coffee since 2020. Her interests are in writing about sustainability, the circular economy, and the future of the environment.

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