Design inspiration: Customising the side of coffee bags

Tori Taylor
December 29, 2021
side gusset coffee bag

Known as the “secret salesman”, packaging has become a key marketing tool for specialty coffee roasters.

Not only does it protect the distinct characteristics of your coffee from roastery to consumer, it also promotes your brand and helps to sell your product.

As such, it’s important that when designing your bags, you use as much of the available branding space as possible.

Last week, we discussed how specialty roasters can customise the bottom of their bags to attract attention and educate customers.

This week, we focus on how roasters can use the space on the sides of their bags in a similar way.

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Recycling information

As concerns over the environmental impact of product packaging grow, the use of recyclable and compostable materials has risen exponentially.

This has only been compounded in recent years by the introduction of government restrictions on single-use plastics.

The EU Single-Use Plastics Directive, for example, has prompted many businesses to move away from conventional plastics to more sustainable alternatives, such as kraft paper and polylactic acid (PLA).

However, despite efforts from specialty coffee roasters to become more environmentally friendly, recycling rates remain well below expectations. In 2019, the recycling rate for UK household waste was at just over 46%.

One of the big problems is that consumers simply don’t have enough information about what can and can’t be recycled. While symbols, such as the Mobius loop, are aimed at improving consumer knowledge, surveys suggest they serve only to confuse further.

By including recycling information on the side of coffee bags, roasters can ensure their packaging ends up in the right place once it’s empty.

An image of brewing instrucitons on coffee packaging, customised coffee packaging, custom-printed coffee packaging in an article on Customising the side of coffee bags

Brewing instructions

In recent years, consumers have become increasingly interested in the various ways of brewing coffee and equipment needed to do so.

Since the outbreak of Covid-19 and its ensuing lockdowns, this trend has only been reinforced.

According to statistics, more than 80% of American coffee consumers drank at least one cup at home in the last 12 months. This followed a corresponding drop in out-of-home coffee consumption.

The absence of baristas has led many consumers to start recreating their coffee shop favourites at home. However, despite the wealth of information that exists online, it can be difficult to know the correct approach for each different coffee.

Printing brewing instructions on the side of bags is an effective way of helping consumers get the most from their coffee.

This could be a step-by-step guide or even just a few simple logos showing brewing equipment. For example, if the coffee is roasted for espresso, you could include some small drawings of a V60 and a French press.

An image of customised coffee bags, custom-printed coffee packaging with a roast date in an article on Customising the side of coffee bags

Roast date

Freshness is a pillar of the specialty coffee sector. It is broadly defined as the original, unimpaired qualities of coffee and can be quantitatively measured through a combination of aroma and carbon dioxide (CO2) content.

As soon as roasted coffee beans leave the roaster, the loss of freshness begins. Furthermore, as CO2 degases from the coffee and oxygen replaces it, unpleasant, rancid flavours start to develop.

Naturally, customers are unlikely to make repeat purchases if their coffee is stale, rancid, or flat-tasting. Over time, this can have a lasting impact on sales, while in some cases, it can damage a specialty roaster’s reputation irreparably.

To ensure consumers enjoy their coffee at its best, it is a good idea to include the roast date on the side of bags.

Put simply, a roast date indicates the day on which the coffee was roasted. Although the majority of coffees require several days to “rest” before being consumed, a roast date allows consumers to brew the coffee at its “peak”.

In addition to a roast date, specialty roasters may wish to include a time limit for enjoying the coffee (typically within three months of roasting).

Some also add the number of days consumers should wait before brewing it to ensure it has had sufficient time to degas (usually after around seven to ten days).

An image of a transparent window in custom coffee packaging in an article on Customising the side of coffee bags

Transparent window

Degassing valves serve an important role in allowing CO2 to leave the sealed bag without allowing oxygen to enter.

However, a secondary –  perhaps more incidental than intentional – purpose is to smell the aroma of the coffee before buying it.

Squeezing the bag and putting your nose to the degassing valve allows you to breathe in the coffee’s distinct aroma, either convincing you to buy it or to move on and try another one.

A transparent window on coffee bags also has a dual purpose. Not only does it catch the attention of customers as they wander by the shelf, it also gives them an idea of how the coffee was roasted.

While “light” or “medium” roast provides a rough picture, it’s ultimately a subjective opinion; in other words, one roaster’s perception of “medium” could be another roaster’s perception of “dark”.

By seeing the beans via a transparent window on the bag, consumers can draw their own conclusions independent of the roaster. This can help them make more informed decisions, which is likely to lead to greater customer satisfaction.

The sides are a good place for transparent windows as they allow specialty roasters to showcase their branding on the main body of the bag.

Customising the side of your coffee bags is by no means essential. However, doing so could boost your brand identity, while providing customers with additional value.

At MTPak Coffee, our expert design team can help you customise a range of sustainable packaging options, including flat bottom, side gusset, stand up, and quad seal pouches.

For information on our sustainable coffee bags, contact our team.

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