Should roasters inflate their coffee bags with air?

Janice Kanniah
April 28, 2022

Coffee passes through countless hands before reaching customers, and each touch point increases the risk of damaged packaging. 

Shipping damage in the beverage products industry averages around 0.5% of gross sales – adding up to roughly $1 billion worth of damages in the US alone. 

Financial losses aside, damaged packaging may also impact a business’s commitment to sustainable practices. Every damaged product must be repackaged or replaced, adding to the consumption of fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions.

To avoid this, roasters can consider inflating their coffee bags with air. It is a cost-effective and convenient alternative to unsustainable options such as polystyrene packaging peanuts or wrapping paper. 

Additionally, by inflating coffee bags, roasters can ensure their branding stands out on the shelves, helping to entice customers. 

Read on to find out why roasters should consider inflating their coffee bags with air. 

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Bleached and unbleached kraft paper coffee pouches, closed and sealed.

What can happen to coffee during transit?

Once an online order is placed and coffee is dispatched for delivery, it is likely to pass through numerous points that could compromise its quality. Notably, the average ecommerce package is dropped 17 times on route.

When it comes to larger orders, roasters will need to ensure the coffee bags are stacked and palletised in a way that avoids compressing them. Additionally, the pallets will need to be free from any gaps that may cause the products to shift in transit.

Stretch wrapping can help prevent this as it enfolds items in a highly elastic plastic film to keep them tightly bound. 

However, poor roads, as well as shocks and vibrations from delivery vehicles, can also compress stacked or boxed coffee bags. This is highly likely unless the vehicle is equipped with partitions, braces, or load locks for protection and stabilisation.

If one package is damaged, it can cause the entire load to be sent back to the roastery. 

The fact the coffee will have to be repackaged and reshipped may cause delays and increase transportation costs, which roasters will have to absorb or pass on to the consumer. 

As a result, roasters may find it easier to improve their product packaging than having to revisit their coffee’s distribution process.

Additionally, roasters will need a solution that does not result in excessive use of packaging material, and meets consumer demands for more sustainable packaging options. 

Three brown paper bags filled with coffee, white and red labels on white background.

Inflating coffee packaging for added protection 

The global demand for air cushion packaging is set to increase as more people order products online and continue to seek ‌eco-friendly packaging options.

Air cushion packaging can help roasters fill voids when packing larger orders, brace packages and provide 360-degree protection for coffee bags. It is lightweight, flexible and takes up a minimal amount of space. 

It is replacing less sustainable options such as bubble wrap and typical styrofoam packing peanuts. This is because air cushion packaging takes up a controlled amount of space, and it is easier to stack. 

Filling packaging with air is estimated to increase packing efficiency by up to 70%, while halving shipping costs. While inflating packaging costs more than non-inflatable packaging options, it balances out by reducing transportation and storage costs. 

white male coffee roaster wearing blue and red plaid shirt holding brown paper coffee bag.

Offering customers inflated coffee packaging 

Roasters who want to inflate packaging will need to consider the size of their coffee bags. 

Inflating coffee bags can make them seem larger than they are. Therefore, it is essential to communicate the packaging’s volume as clearly as possible to ensure it does not mislead customers.

Providing a cup output guide for each packaging size can help customers understand exactly how much coffee they are buying. 

In addition, it is important that roasters select a packaging size that is slightly larger than the coffee it contains. When coffee is packaged, it needs a certain amount of headspace in which the released CO2 can sit and create a carbon-rich environment. 

This helps maintain the pressure between the beans and the air inside the bag, creating an equilibrium that prevents further diffusion.

Another key point is to ensure this space is neither too big nor too small. Too small, and the gas will compact around the beans and affect their taste. On the other hand, if the space is too big, the diffusion rate accelerates and freshness dissipates rapidly. 

It may also be beneficial to couple air-filled packaging with a packaging material that is eco-friendly and offers suitable barrier protection. 

For example, roasters can choose to use kraft paper bags with a biodegradable polylactic acid (PLA) lining. Or, they can choose to use packaging materials made from low-density polyethylene (LDPE).

Furthermore, including a degassing valve can help prevent oxygen from entering the bag while allowing carbon dioxide (CO2) to escape in a controlled manner.

As soon as a consumer opens a bag of coffee filled with air, the coffee will begin interacting with its environment. To preserve its freshness and quality, consumers should be advised to reduce the headspace by rolling the packaging down and sealing it.

By incorporating an airtight sealing mechanism such as a zip-seal, roasters can help preserve their coffee’s quality and ensure consumers get a high quality cup every time. 

When a damaged coffee order arrives at a customer, the roastery is more likely to receive complaints and shoulder the blame than the delivery company or courier. 

That being said, it is important that roasters take appropriate steps to preserve their coffee’s quality and lifespan, while protecting it from external factors. 

At MTPak Coffee, we are experts at helping roasters make the switch to sustainable packaging alternatives. We offer a range of high-quality recyclable, biodegradable, and compostable options that will preserve the freshness of your coffee and showcase your commitment to sustainability. 

We also offer ziplocks, along with velcro zippers, tin ties and tear notches, providing you with a range of options for keeping your coffee fresh. Velcro zippers offer audible confirmation of secure closure, while tear notches reassure your customers that your packaging is tamper-free and fresh as possible. Tin ties may work best with our flat bottom pouches to keep the structure of the packaging.

For more information on compostable coffee packaging, contact our team today

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