Coffee bag design tips: Should you add transparent windows?

Pavel Corena
February 24, 2023
An image of a coffee bag with a transparent window flexible coffee packaging with transparent windows in an article on adding transparent windows to coffee bags

It can be difficult for roasters to know what to include when designing packaging that showcases their coffee in the best way possible. 

While you want to give customers a clear idea of what they are buying, you also want to avoid overwhelming them with product information. A coffee bag with too many details can be confusing and intimidating – particularly to consumers who are new to specialty coffee.

An effective way to strike a balance is to integrate transparent windows into your coffee bags. 

This simple design feature has increased in popularity, as it captures consumer attention and allows them to view the product they are buying.  

Discover the pros and cons of adding transparent windows to coffee bags, and if this design feature suits your business. 

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Why add transparent windows to coffee bags?

The design of your coffee bag should clearly communicate the product to consumers and showcase it attractively. 

An effective and affordable way to accomplish both is to add transparent windows to coffee packaging. 

Transparent windows not only send a clear message that you are confident in the quality of your product, but also help the bag stand out on the shelf. 

Furthermore, it is a highly effective way to tempt customers into making a purchase. One way to think of transparent windows on coffee bags is like a storefront window display: products are arranged to provoke curiosity, with the aim of “inviting” consumers to try more.

In the case of specialty coffee, the look of the roasted beans is an essential selling point. Transparent windows can help assure customers they are buying a high-quality product. 

Additionally, it allows them to check certain factors for themselves, such as the roast profile. Many coffee bags use terms such as “strength” or “roast degree”, but it can be difficult for consumers to know how light-roasted the beans truly are.

By seeing the beans via a transparent window on the bag, consumers can draw their own conclusions independent of the roaster. This can help them make more informed decisions, which is likely to lead to greater customer satisfaction.

An image of a coffee bag with a transparent window on the side of the flexible coffee packaging, in an article on adding transparent windows to coffee bags

Pros and cons of transparent windows in coffee packaging

Before adding transparent windows to your coffee bag design, it is important to understand the pros and cons.

For instance, it is clear transparent windows have several advantages when it comes to marketing coffee. 

It is an effective way to capture consumer attention and build trust as windows allow them to check the colour of the beans and evaluate freshness. 

More so, transparent windows can be incorporated into the visual design elements of the coffee bag in creative and clever ways.

However, the size of the window must be carefully considered, as it can reduce the amount of branding space on the coffee bag. 

The bottom of the bag is a good place for a transparent window as it allows you to keep your branding on the main body of the bag.

Amar Café is an example of a roaster that does this well. While their flat-bottom coffee bags carry the distinctive yellow and blue of their brand, the bottom is transparent except for the words: “To love coffee!”.

Important to note is coffee beans are sensitive to different external elements, such as sunlight. Adding transparent windows to coffee bags means the beans are likely to be more exposed to sunlight.

When roast coffee is exposed to light over a significant period, it causes the breakdown of chemical compounds in the beans. Known as “photodegradation”, it can lead to the loss of aroma and flavour, resulting in stale, often rancid, coffee.

An image of a coffee bag with a transparent window on the bottom of the coffee bag in an article on adding transparent windows to coffee bags

What to consider when integrating transparent windows into coffee bags

To meet the growing expectations of modern consumers, preserving the quality of coffee is just one factor to consider. The material used to create coffee bags is now just as important. 

According to a recent survey, 67% of buyers reveal it is important their purchases are in recyclable packaging.

More so, more consumers are shunning brands and prices and focussing on sustainability instead. In an international study by Unilever, 33% of customers say they support brands that are helping the environment.

Therefore, when designing coffee bags, roasters must consider not only how to showcase the product, but also the sustainability of the packaging. 

Luckily, transparent windows can be added to coffee bags made from a variety of sustainable materials, including kraft and rice paper, low-density polyethylene (LDPE), and polylactic acid (PLA).

As a packaging material, rice paper is flexible and strong, but somewhat translucent. It’s often layered when used to package coffee to make it more opaque and enhance its strength and protective qualities.

It’s also frequently lined with aluminium to further protect the coffee from moisture, UV rays, and oxidation, but this drastically reduces its recycling potential.

Kraft paper’s production process recycles most of the water and chemical byproducts it produces. As a packaging material, it’s elastic, tear resistant, and easy to recycle. When left unbleached, its light brown colour is favoured by many for its natural appearance.

While kraft paper is readily available and easy to access, it requires a special coating to make it impervious to moisture and other external elements. It is also often lined with other materials. These coatings and linings impact its recyclability, as is the case with rice paper.

LDPE is a thermoplastic characterised by its properties as a thin, lightweight, and flexible material. 

What sets LDPE apart from traditional plastics is the ease and affordability with which it can be reused and recycled. Unlike polylactic acid (PLA) or kraft paper, LDPE takes roughly the same time to decompose as traditional plastics. Nevertheless, the absence of toxins when recycled makes it an eco-friendly alternative.

PLA offers several advantages for coffee roasters. One of these is the ease with which it can customised with different branding and design features. 

For example, brands seeking more rustic-looking packaging can opt for kraft paper on the outside, and PLA on the inside.

They can also choose to add a transparent PLA window so that customers can view the contents of the bag, or include a range of coloured designs and logos. 

PLA is compatible with digital printing, which means, using eco-friendly inks, you can create a completely biodegradable product. An eco-friendly product can help communicate your commitment to sustainability to consumers, and improve customer loyalty.

At MTPak Coffee, we can help you seamlessly fit transparent windows to your coffee bags to help showcase your product. 

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.

More so, our entire range of coffee packaging is 100% customisable as we use innovative digital printing technology, allowing us to help you with a quick turnaround time of 40-hours and 24-hour shipping time.

For more information on fitting transparent windows to coffee packaging, contact our team.

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