Which coffee packaging can you use on vertical form fill seal machines?

Janice Kanniah
June 29, 2022

Pouches made from flexible packaging are one of the most common ways for specialty roasters to package their coffee. 

Flexible packaging is not only more eco-friendly to produce, but an effective way to extend a coffee’s lifespan without adding to a package’s weight. Furthermore, it provides strong barrier properties, protecting coffee from moisture, heat, light, and oxygen. 

For roasters who are fulfilling consistently large volumes, there may come a point where it is no longer feasible to package coffee themselves. Many packagers choose to use vertical Form Fill Seal (FFS) machines instead, as they are affordable and can package coffee faster than a person can by hand.

Vertical form fill seal machines offer a range of package sizes with as little as 0.5% packaging waste, helping to boost a roaster’s eco-friendly credentials. Additionally, it can be fully automated, reducing the amount of labour required, and making it suitable for streamlined operations. 

Roasters who chose to use vertical form fill seal machines will need to determine what type of packaging materials are compatible. This will affect several factors, including what sealing mechanisms are chosen, the packaging sizes roasters can offer, as well as turnaround time.   

Find out more about what packaging roasters can use with vertical form fill seal machines. 

A close up image of an example of a vertical form fill seal machine with roasted coffee

What are vertical FFS machines?

Every roastery will have different reasons to switch to a vertical FFS machine.

Often, it will depend on the roasting capacity, the number of staff members available, and order turnaround times. 

Demonstrations have found a vertical FFS machine can help a roaster fill 290kg (640lbs) of coffee into 340g (120z) bags within 1.5 hours – as opposed to the average six hours it would take by hand.

Vertical FFS machines use a single film roll to create different pouch shapes and sizes at speeds of between 30 and 300 bags per minute. This may vary slightly depending on the size of the bag. 

The film enters a hollow form tube, which creates a film length where its outer edges overlap each other. Once a specific length setting is reached, the tube and film stop moving.

Then, the film is drawn down on either side of the tube before vertical and horizontal heat-sealing jaws seal the sides and bottom. 

The coffee is then poured down the middle of the tube and into the open bag using a multi-head scale, or auger. 

A multi-head scale or auger are dosing devices that separate the coffee into pre-defined doses or weights. These doses are then fed into the packaging machines. Each bag is often simultaneously weighed during filling to ensure it is not over or under-filled. 

Finally, a sharp knife within the heat sealing jaws will cut the bag, seal it, and drop the filled pouch below for collection.

Roasters can also make each coffee pouch resealable for customer convenience by adding a tin tie to each bag. This can be done by glueing a laminated wire below the bag’s seal. Once the seal is open, roasters can roll the bag down and fold the tin tie edge over each side.

Additionally, roasters can choose to add a tear notch, a hook and loop zipper with a resealable track, or a pocket zipper on the inside of the bag. All these options can be added to the bag during the sealing process for added convenience. 

Close up image of various packaging materials used in vertical fill form seal machines, with white and yellow coffee bags on counter with black coffee in cup.

What packaging options can a vertical FFS machine offer?

One of the major benefits of a vertical FFS machine is that they can produce a wide range of coffee packaging shapes. 

Many factors will determine which packaging shape a roaster chooses. For example, it will depend on how much coffee needs to be packaged, its transportation method, as well as what packaging materials are used. 

It is important to note that vertical FFS machines are not compatible with multilayered materials or paper packaging, as the pouches may become wrinkled or damaged. 

That said, vertical FFS machines fare well with various popular coffee packaging shapes.

Stand-up pouches feature a W-shaped bottom gusset that unfolds into a sturdy base. They are ideal for shelving and displays, as they will not topple over. Furthermore, they use less packaging material than other pouch shapes. 

Flat bottom pouches have five sides with a flat, rectangular base. These free-standing pouches have gussets on both the left and right-hand side, which can provide added storage space once filled or opened. They are particularly popular among those with a strong brand identity thanks to their large printable surface. 

Alternatively, side gusset pouches can have gussets on either side that tend to form a box shape when opened and fully expanded. When combined with a flat bottom, these pouches offer stability and increased packaging capacity. Additionally, they do not take up much space when they are empty, as their gussets remain closed and folded together.

Another option are quad seal pouches, which comprise five panels and four vertical seals. When filled to capacity, its bottom seal flattens into a sturdy triangle. Furthermore, it also offers gussets and side panels for more advertising space.

Many vertical FFS machines can be adjusted to add a range of coffee packaging accessories, such as degassing valves or resealable zips.

Unlike with pre-made pouch packaging machines, roasters will not receive empty, ready-to-seal packaging that can be filled when and where needed. 

With vertical FFS machines, the pouch sealing and filling takes place at once, saving a roaster time and effort. It also creates a professionally packaged coffee product that roasters can be proud of. 

For roasters who are facing demand with limited hands to help manage the process, investing in a vertical form fill seal machine may help a business scale up almost effortlessly. 

Image of woman preparing black coffee with two coffee bags in foreground.

The process of creating, filling and sealing coffee packaging does not need to be complicated, costly, or time-consuming. 

With the help of a specialty coffee packaging expert, roasters can outsource the process so that it has as little impact on operations as possible.

At MTPak Coffee, we can assist you with your coffee packaging process from beginning to end, starting with packaging design and digital printing and ending with its filling and adding any accessories. 

Our range of coffee packaging is 100% recyclable and is made from renewable materials such as kraft and rice paper, as well as LDPE and PLA-lined pouches. Our eco-friendly packaging range includes stand-up, flat bottom, side gusset, and quad seal pouches. 

From heat sealers and loop zippers to tear notches and zip locks, all resealable features can be fitted into our recyclable, compostable, and biodegradable coffee bags to extend the shelf life of your coffee by preserving its aroma and flavour for longer.

We also have a range of stock coffee bags and low minimum order quantity (MOQ) options for micro roasters, starting from as little as 500 units.

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

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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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