Digital printing: What coffee packaging materials can be used?

Alexander Hoyes
December 21, 2022

From its inception in the early 1990s to the present, digital printing has become a staple for retailers. 

As one of many different types of printing processes, digital printing has its advantages over others. From expedited printing capabilities to an array of colour distributions, the digital printer is a brilliant choice for any coffee roaster looking to customise product packaging. 

Packaging is often the first interaction a customer will have with a product. For roasters, customised coffee packaging can help set the tone for the brand, tell a story about the coffee, and educate consumers.  

Notably, a recent study found 72% of consumers agree that packaging design can influence their purchasing decisions. 

Digital printing provides roasters with the opportunity to engage with customers through their coffee bags. It offers a way for roasters to blend coffee packaging and their marketing strategies. 

Discover the benefits of digital printing and which sustainable packaging materials can be used. 

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The advancements in digital printing technology

Digital printing was introduced to the market at the IPEX in Birmingham in 1993, revolutionising the efficiency of printing and leading to further advancements in printing processes. 

In essence, digital printing is a method that employs laser or ink-jet properties directly on the intended material without using a separate print medium.

Previous printers required an intermediate print medium that involved plates and cylinders. Therefore, digital printing transformed the manner in which print can be quickly and efficiently adapted to materials.

For roasters, digital printing has allowed for more creativity regarding custom coffee bags, takeaway cups, and accessories such as cup and bag sleeves

With its fine-tuned ability to print on various materials accurately and directly, digital printing can produce intricate, highly detailed packaging designs consistently with a small error rate.

More so, recent technological advances have enabled digital printing methods to use less harmful chemicals – making it a more environmentally friendly option.

Previous printing inks often contained high volumes of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Newer, water-based inks contain smaller traces of VOCs. The process to create low-VOC inks is performed by implementing mild solvents, such as offset and solid ink. 

Digital print has also helped minimise waste in two ways. First, fewer printing mediums save time, and second, fewer additional resources are needed to execute the order.

More so, eco-friendly printers have been upgraded to digital print on sustainable substrates, such as biodegradable, compostable, and recyclable materials.

These advancements have helped roasters invest in recyclable, more environmentally friendly coffee packaging, which appeals to a growing number of eco-conscious consumers

An image of a customised coffee bag, custom-printed coffee packaging using digital printing in an article on what coffee packaging materials can be used in digital printing

How does digital printing benefit coffee roasters? 

Digital printing offers many advantages in the coffee industry, particularly for roasters. 

Traditional printing methods were often impractical for many roasting companies for a multitude of reasons.

For small-scale roasters, the minimum quantities required to fulfil an order were often excessive and costly. For example, the flexographic printing method used plates as a separate printing medium, which added extra set-up fees for the customer.

Additionally, large-scale roasters often found these printing methods ineffective when they desired to produce customised coffee bags for a limited edition offering or private label. 

Since the printing mediums were cumbersome to set up, higher minimum quantities were required to fulfil the order. This was a limiting factor for creating a niche or seasonal product.

Digital printing has changed the game for coffee roasters as the lowered minimum quantities have provided more opportunities for creativity and flexibility on the retail side.

Moreover, digital printing is less burdensome than other printing methods as it enables quicker production and faster delivery time to the consumer.

This is particularly advantageous for roasteries and coffee shops. The turnaround time from the product’s conceptual inception to its physical state is much faster with digital printing.

With the readiness and availability for an effective process, digital printing allows for more flexibility with customised printing. This allows roasters to brand and market themselves more effectively.

What coffee packaging materials can be used in digital printing?

While digital printing on coffee packaging has many advantages, there are a few limitations that must be mentioned. 

First, while digital printers can print using the CMYK methods, they are unable to use the PMS colour system. In turn, this may result in a lesser-than-colour accuracy compared to other printers. 

Additionally, some digital printers may be limited in the number of stock options available. For instance, some may only use specific types of paper materials.

This is compared to traditional printers that can print on complex substrates, including corrugated, chipboard, grey boards, and other thick paper stocks.

However, common substrates used in coffee packaging, such as kraft paper, rice paper, polylactic acid (PLA), and low-density polyethylene (LDPE) are all suitable materials for digital printing. 

This is helpful as many coffee companies are turning to more eco-friendly bags: an array that allows for several customisable choices.

For roasters who want to change their custom-print coffee bags regularly, digital printing is the most feasible option. 

Large-scale roasteries that do not change the design of their packaging should consider other economic and environmentally friendly printing options.

For example, flexography and rotogravure printing methods are other highly sustainable investments that will accommodate large quantities in an efficient manner.

An image of a customised multilayer LDPE coffee bag with custom-printed sides in an article on what coffee packaging materials can be used in digital printing

At MTPak Coffee, our HP Indigo 25K Digital Press allows for easy and efficient digital printing for your coffee packaging needs. 

Packaging designs are sent as digital files directly to our printer. This will also expedite the turnaround time from the time the file is sent to the time the final product arrives at the roastery.

With LEP technology, the HP Indigo 25K Digital Press applies water-based inks to a variety of packaging materials, including kraft, rice, PLA, and LDPE substrates.

HP claims that the printer’s technology has the capability to reduce the environmental impact by about 80% compared to rotogravure or flexography printing methods.

The team at MTPak Coffee pride itself on providing customers with environmentally friendly products, including sustainable coffee bags made from 100% recyclable materials.

Choose from renewable materials such as kraft paper, rice paper, or multilayer LDPE packaging with an environmentally friendly PLA lining, all of which minimise waste and contribute to a circular economy.

Our design team is available to work directly with you or your marketing team to create the ideal coffee packaging for your brand. Plus, we are able to custom-print coffee bags with a quick turnaround time of 40-hours and 24-hour shipping time. 

MTPak Coffee also offers low minimum order quantities (MOQs) to micro-roasters who are looking to remain agile while showcasing brand identity and a commitment to the environment.

For more information on using digital printing to customise your sustainable coffee packaging, contact our team. 

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