What design finishes work on compostable coffee bags?

JP Blignaut
April 20, 2023
An image of a compostable coffee bag with a matte finish on a table in an article on design finishes on compostable coffee bags

First impressions make all the difference in the fast-paced digital economy. So much so, research suggests it takes consumers roughly 0.05 seconds to form an impression of a brand or product. To a large extent, appearance, visibility, and uniqueness remain crucial elements for coffee businesses wanting to stand out among competitors.

That said, the increasing demand for more sustainable packaging, products, and services has seen several industries adapt their offerings to become more environmentally conscious. More so, they have had to do this while retaining high-quality brand visibility and customer loyalty. 

For coffee roasters and cafés, sustainability plays a big part in branding, especially when it comes to packaging options. While the coffee beans have undergone rigorous testing and consideration, it is often the design finish on the packaging that encourages consumers to purchase.

Therefore, the combination of a unique design finish and compostable coffee packaging can help ensure the product sparks a great first impression, encourages a sale, and promotes customer loyalty. Discover which design finishes work best on compostable coffee bags. 

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Does coffee packaging require a “finish”?

While the design elements, such as the branding, graphics, and typography are essential to ensuring a coffee bag stands out, the right packaging finish can give it a helping hand. A “finish” refers to an action performed on the packaging materials that help to enhance its appearance and allow for additional protection. 

Typical coffee packaging finishes include matte, gloss, spot UV, and satin or soft-touch. These are often used as additional coats over the bags’ exterior to improve the packaging’s visual aesthetics. 

According to an article from Digital Information World, over 90% of consumers have reported they focus solely on the visual appearance of a product when shopping. This further shows the effect packaging finishes can have on consumer behaviour, and the considerations roasters and cafés should make during the design process.

While print finishing can directly contribute to the physical appearance of the packaging, other characteristics, such as barrier protection and product quality, also come to mind. Some argue print finishes on coffee packaging may even be tied to improved sales due to higher brand visibility.

Indeed, each packaging finish will contribute to the overall brand aesthetics, and so business owners must consider whether these options help to improve product quality and durability.

An image of two compostable coffee bags, compostable coffee packaging with a matte finish on coffee bags, spot UV on coffee bags in an article on design finishes on compostable coffee bags

What kinds of finishes are commonly used on coffee bags?

 As packaging expectations and trends evolve, several packaging finishes have become available, allowing coffee roasters to experiment with what works best for their brand. Each finish will carry unique properties that contribute to several predetermined needs established during the packaging design process. 

Matte finish

A matte finish on coffee bags can help deflect light, as softer colours are often used, which helps to protect coffee against external UV exposure. More so, a matte finish reflects less light at the consumer, making the information on the bag easier to read. When it comes to convincing consumers to purchase in an environment where every second counts, ensuring product information is easy to read is essential.

Soft-touch matte finish 

A soft-touch matte finish is similar to a traditional matte, only it adds more depth and is softer and smoother. A soft-touch finish is less frequent for coffee bags, as it tends to have fewer protection qualities. However, it is a highly effective design technique when differentiating a product from competitors, as its physicalities make it appear more premium. 

Satin finish 

A satin finish on coffee bags requires a delicate balance of colour and design and is often considered a combination of a gloss and matte finish. This finish allows for high-quality printing or labels, but depending on the quantity and quality of the finish, it may be expensive in the long term.

Gloss finish 

For better protection and long-lasting quality, a gloss finish is a vibrant option that helps to reflect light on coffee bags and draws consumer attention. A gloss finish is perhaps the more frequented choice among newer coffee roasteries, as this is a more affordable and durable option that can protect the coffee beans against dust, dirt, and other components. 

Spot UV finish 

A relatively new technique in coffee packaging, a spot ultraviolet (UV) finish is a coating that can be applied to coffee bags that uses a clear coating of polymer in liquid form. The polymer is then spread across a specific di-cut template, usually made from film. The template is then placed on the bag and exposed to UV light, helping to bond the film with the packaging to create a highly reflective surface. It is often used to highlight certain aspects of the design on coffee packaging.

Uncoated finish 

A more sustainable and affordable option is to leave packaging untreated, without any additional finishing. This is typically a good option for coffee bags constructed from rice or kraft paper. It provides a more natural look and feel but requires additional printing or stamping for branding information.

An image of two compostable coffee bags from Roasterworks Coffee Co, design finishes on compostable coffee packaging in an article on design finishes on compostable coffee bags

What design finishes work on compostable coffee bags?

Investing in recyclable packaging, only to coat it with non-recyclable materials and components will be redundant for coffee businesses looking to improve environmental goals and sustainability efforts. 

It is important to note that some finish options, such as spot UV, are considered a more suitable choice for compostable coffee bags. The process is environmentally friendly and can be applied to sustainable packaging materials such as kraft paper or recycled cardboard. What’s more, the properties of spot UV are free of harmful chemicals or toxic properties. 

Coffee bags made from recyclable low-density polyethene (LDPE) can be finished using gloss or soft-touch matte. A glossy finish can help enhance product visibility and appearance, while reflecting light. This, coupled with improved sealing options, such as resealable zippers, helps to keep the coffee beans fresh.

Another option is polylactic acid (PLA) coffee bags made from a renewable resin extracted from corn, sugar cane and sugar beet. Some coffee roasteries often use PLA bags, with a matte finish due to their aesthetic properties and barrier protection against dust, dirt and UV light. The combination of PLA bags and a matte finish can help create a sensory experience for the consumer, helping them to distinguish between different competitor brands.

MTPak Coffee offers a wide range of customisation techniques, including spot UV with a glossy, satin, or matte finish, embossing and debossing, as well as hot foil stamping in a variety of colours.

Our range of packaging options is made from renewable materials. Our coffee boxes are 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.

We also offer our clients a quick turnaround time of 40-hours and 24-hour shipping time in addition to low minimum order quantities (MOQs) for those looking to remain agile while showcasing a commitment to the environment.

For more information on coffee packaging finishes and customisation, contact our team.

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