Coffee bag design: Embossing vs debossing

Aidan Gant
December 22, 2022

Similar to jewellery and perfume, specialty coffee is often considered a high-end luxury product.

Notably, a recent survey found 61% of respondents are more likely to buy a luxury product repeatedly if it comes in premium-looking packaging.

Therefore, it is essential for roasters to ensure their coffee packaging design looks luxurious, as this can go a long way in helping boost sales and brand recognition.

Two of the most effective ways to enhance the sophistication of your coffee bag design is embossing or debossing.

Embossed or debossed coffee packaging is sure to catch the eye of consumers and will, quite literally in the case of embossing, make your coffee bags stand out from the crowd.

Discover more about embossing and debossing coffee bags and which can have more impact on your packaging design.

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An image of an embossed and debossed kraft paper coffee box in an article on embossing coffee bags and debossing coffee bags in coffee bag design

What is the difference between embossing and debossing? 

Debossing and embossing packaging is a design technique with a long pedigree.

It has been applied to an enormous range of products, with plenty of examples being found with higher-end brands.

These design techniques are often used on packaging for anything that needs a touch of luxury and class – think premium business cards, wedding invitations, perfume packaging, and gift boxes, for example.

In essence, embossed coffee packaging features an element of the design that is physically raised from the background elements of the bag’s design.

Similarly, debossed coffee bags have textural elements operating at different physical levels of the overall design. The main difference is that debossed aspects are indented rather than raised.

When running your hand over the surface of embossed coffee packaging, you are likely to feel the design rising up to meet your fingertips, similar to reading braille.

Alternatively, with debossed coffee packaging, you would be able to trace the depressed valleys of debossed elements.

An embossed effect is achieved by placing the substrate between two plates or stamping dies that are prepared with the male and female images of the desired design.

Heat and pressure are then applied to the two dies, and the design is pushed through the substrate material and set.

Debossing is a slightly simpler process, requiring just one die plate. The design is effectively punched into the substrate to create indentations in the sought-after spaces to highlight, or lowlight, certain design elements.

An image of an embossed coffee bag with hot foil stamping in an article on embossing coffee bags and debossing coffee bags in coffee bag design

What are the benefits of embossing or debossing coffee bags?

Embossed and debossed designs on product packaging are often an indication of quality.

It is believed the association stems from the historic practice of protecting the privacy of personal correspondence between nobles with a personal wax seal. If the seal was broken, the recipient would know that the envelope had been opened.

This psychological association with opulence is one that carries through to the present day.

Embossing packaging designs can influence a consumer’s perception and expectation of quality and value. This, in turn, has an empirical impact on purchase decisions and purchase prices.

Luxurious-looking packaging may make customers assume the product is better, therefore, increasing the likelihood of them buying it – and possibly paying more.

Notably, embossed and debossed designs work particularly well when paired with a minimalist design.

In most cases, embossing sections of a coffee bag that features a busy design may exacerbate any visual overstimulation without achieving the desired high-impact sections.

An image of a debossed watch box in an article on debossing coffee bags and embossing coffee bags in coffee bag design

Examples of where embossing techniques and minimalist principles have been paired to create exceptional packaging can often be found in the technology and luxury fragrance world. 

Yves Saint Laurent is a prime example. The brand’s embossed logos on its gift boxes are instantly recognisable, even in the dark. 

A logo is a uniquely impactful part of your coffee packaging design that can be highlighted with embossing. 

Circular logos, in particular, work well raised in multi-layered designs where the textural depth draws the eye into and around the essence of your branding. 

Textual logos, on the other hand, benefit from debossing. This is a design principle that looks especially striking when coupled with hot foil stamping.

Hot foil stamping refers to a process whereby a very thin foil, with gold leaf being a prominent example, is adhered to the valleys created by the debossing to lend a definite air of luxury to a brand logo. 

Embossing and debossing techniques should be used in an area of the design or packaging that you want to bring to a customer’s attention. 

This can either be to highlight design elements, or ensure important brew guides or origin information is not skipped over. An embossed border can work well to highlight details like this.

An image of two coffee roaster packaging coffee in a kraft paper coffee bags in an article on embossing coffee bags and debossing coffee bags in coffee bag design

What to consider when embossing or debossing coffee bags

When thinking about using embossing or debossing techniques on coffee bags, there are a number of technical considerations. 

Chief amongst these is feasibility with your chosen packaging material. It is important to recognise that not all materials were created equal in terms of thermal properties, with some withstanding the heat and pressure of embossing better than others. 

Equally, some materials that work well for embossing are unlikely to be fit for coffee packaging. For example, customers are unlikely to want their beans delivered in a hand-crafted leather pouch – even if it is beautifully embossed. 

Traditionally, some plastics can be tricky to emboss, as they tend to break down when heat is applied. 

Most bioplastics, such as polylactic acid (PLA), are excellent candidates for embossing. That said, you should confirm with your manufacturer if your chosen material will be suitable.

Another route to ensuring you can make use of embossing and debossing techniques in your coffee packaging design is to consider custom coffee mailer boxes. 

Onyx Coffee Labs is a roaster that has mastered the design art of embossing on its collectable, and highly giftable, boxes.

More so, multi-dimensional packaging choices can really separate your brand from the pack. 

An image of multilayer LDPE coffee bags in a row waiting to be filled with roast coffee in an article on embossing coffee bags and debossing coffee bags in coffee bag design

Clearly, embossed or debossed elements in packaging design can create a high-impact, sophisticated brand image. 

MTPak Coffee offers embossing and debossing on both coffee bags and coffee boxes. 

Our range of packaging options is made from renewable materials: our range of coffee boxes is made using 100% recycled cardboard, while our sustainable coffee bags are made using kraft paper, rice paper, or multilayer LDPE packaging with an environmentally friendly PLA lining

More so, both our sustainable coffee bags and coffee mailer boxes can be fully customised to accurately reflect your brand, as well as your coffee’s characteristics. 

MTPak Coffee offers our clients a quick turnaround time of 40-hours and 24-hour shipping time. 

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

To learn more about embossing or debossing on sustainable coffee packaging, contact our team. 

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Aidan Gant
Aidan Gant

Aidan spent his early career working in cafes alongside coffee roasters and in other hospitality positions. He owned a vegan tapas restaurant, specialty coffee bar, and live jazz venue, which he operated with his partner before closing during the Covid-19 pandemic. Since 2020, he has made his living writing about coffee and the environment, and is currently a researcher and doctoral student in Creative Writing.

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