Should roasters colour code their coffee bags for baristas?

Aidan Gant
June 15, 2022
Should roasters colour code their coffee bags for baristas?

Modern coffee consumers have come to expect a quick service time, and too long of a queue may cause them to place their orders elsewhere.

As many specialty coffee shops offer a wide variety of coffees and brew methods, an efficient workflow is vital – as is offering consumers their order in record time.

Therefore, anything a roaster can do to aid workflow in a busy establishment will be well received by both customers and staff. This often goes beyond the setup of an efficient workspace and staff coordination, and can stem from how roasters choose to package their coffees.

For instance, roasters can colour code coffee bags in order to help baristas quickly identify its origins, roast profile, and flavour notes.Furthermore, it helps them determine whether the coffee is whole bean, ground, or even decaf.

Read on to find out more about how roasters can benefit from using colour codes on coffee bags.

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Image of coffee shop indicating the effectiveness of workflow.

What is coffee shop workflow and why is it important?

The workflow in a coffee shop refers to the sequence of events in the establishment: from customers entering, ordering and receiving their drinks, to them leaving the venue.

An optimised workflow promotes efficiency, clarity, and a quality experience at every juncture. Essentially, it should leave customers planning their next visit, and staff smiling and feeling fulfilled.

Workflow can be the difference between a smooth service and chaos, which directly translates to revenue in two fundamental ways.

In many cases, takeaway coffee is a spontaneous purchase, commonly made on the way to work. Most customers may not have time to wait in long queues.

Furthermore, from a customer’s perspective, excessive queues may suggest poor management and slow service staff. This, in turn, could mean many customers may choose to place their orders at coffee shops with shorter wait times.

A 2021 study shows people respond more to the waiting experience than the actual length of the wait. Additionally, once customers have reached the five-minute mark, the average perceived wait time doubles.

More so, if the coffees served per hour are not at maximum levels of output, it may further affect revenue.

An effective parallel is a professional kitchen: chefs do all the meal preparation, such as cutting and peeling, before the next service. In a well run kitchen, tools are exactly where they should be, with ingredients prepped and to hand.

There is no reason that a barista should be any less particular with their workstation. Admittedly, space may not always allow for the ideal set-up, however, it is vital that transactions and orders are managed logically.

In an ideal setting, customers would be greeted upon entry and led to the tills, where they would place and pay for their order.

The order would then be passed along by a well-organised ticket rail, where baristas can process the orders. Then, the drinks would be turned out to the service area by floor runners.

In cafés and roasteries, every member of the team should know what their role is and stick to it. For instance, it would be illogical to have three baristas pulling shots, but no one manning the till.

A barista’s workstation should be organised, with a clear flow from the grinder and knock box to the puck and prep area. It should also allow for clear access to the espresso machine, milk fridge, and steam wand, as well as the service counter.

Even when working the counter alone, studies show barista’s work best in a tidy environment. More so, stock needs to be on hand, and replenished during lulls in service or by runners during busier periods.

Close up image of male barista collecting finely ground coffee to dial in espresso machine.

How can colour coded coffee bags aid workflow?

To help with workflow, roasters can choose to colour code their coffee bags for quick, easy identification by all members of staff.

Colour codes are usually given according to certain discerning characteristics. For example, Portland‘s Stumptown Coffee Roasters have recently implemented such a system.

They have replaced their iconic, minimalist kraft paper bags in favour of a new colour coded system that differentiates between blend, origin, and certain other qualities. Now, their African single origin coffees sport a red colour panel, where their direct trade options display a brown panel.

Another example is PT’s Coffee Roasting Co, whose decaf coffee carries a light grey panel, as well as Onyx Coffee, whose pink boxes denote tropical and floral flavours.

These colour cues can be invaluable in a busy working environment, as a barista can know at a glance that they have the correct beans for the order. Many employees in a café setting will be familiar with colour coding to communicate information.

Notably, it is already common across a number of household items, such as chopping boards to prevent cross-contamination, as well as cleaning products.

Image of two multilayer white kraft paper coffee pouches with Rave branding, with colour codes indicating origins and blends.

Why roasters should offer colour coded coffee bags

Offering colour coded coffee bags is in the interest of most roasters, as better workflow in cafés that stock their brand will lead to increased sales, and in turn, more orders for the roaster.

Furthermore, baristas will appreciate any aid to speed them up when under pressure, and not having to read a label mid-service can be particularly helpful.

When clients feel supported by the decisions roasters and café owners have made to make their lives easier, they may repay them with loyalty to the brand.

Moreover, colour coding can be just as useful in the retail sector, as flavour expectation and perception is a multisensory experience. When customers see a certain colour, they anticipate a particular set of flavours and aromas.

This can be harnessed in specialty coffee to subliminally communicate taste notes and help customers with purchasing choices.

At MTPak Coffee, we offer roasters a range of coffee packaging that is 100% recyclable, biodegradable, or compostable. Our range of coffee bags is made from sustainable materials such as kraft and rice paper, as well as LDPE and PLA-lined bags.

Furthermore, we can use digital printing to customise coffee bags to display bright colour codes to differentiate your variety of coffees, with a 40-hour turnaround and 24-hour shipping time. This allows us to offer low minimum order quantities (MOQs) of packaging, no matter what size or material.

Additionally, we can help you select from a range of additional sustainable components, such as degassing valves and ziplocks to design the perfect packaging for your needs.

For more information on sustainable, custom printed coffee bags, contact our team. 

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