Should roasters let AI design their coffee packaging?

Hayley Osbourne
May 5, 2023
An image of a custom printed coffee bag as an example of AI art in coffee bag design in an article on whether roasters should use AI to design coffee packaging

Artificial intelligence (AI) systems have influenced people’s daily lives for years: helping to diagnose cancer and other medical conditions, or direct drivers from one point to another through GPS. However, recent advancements, such as ChatGP and AI art, have made the technology more accessible than ever. 

Programmes like ChatGP allow for human-like conversations with what is known as a “chatbot”. It can help with various editorial and research tasks, such as writing emails, computer code, and essays. Notably, ChatGP has caused controversy within writing-based communities and businesses, as many fear the programme could replace humans.

With the rising popularity of AI art, that fear may be spilling over to the design community. That said, at the moment, AI art is created through human and AI collaboration. Digital art, text, audio, and video can be created by providing the AI programme with a string of text that describes the desired image, and the system does the rest.

Several industries have experimented with AI programmes, using them to create innovative designs for everything from kitchen appliances to architecture. As the specialty industry prides itself on innovation and creation, should roasters let AI design coffee packaging?

Read on to discover the logistics of using AI to design coffee packaging, and who would actually own the rights to the artwork. 

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The rising popularity of artificial intelligence (AI)

Notably, the first work in the field of artificial intelligence began in the mid-20th century. In 1935, a British logician and alleged computer pioneer, Alan Turing, is said to have described an abstract computing machine that had a limitless memory and the ability to read and replicate symbols. It is believed the earliest successful AI programme was written by Christopher Strachey in 1951. Supposedly, he ran a checkers programme through a computer, and by 1952, the programme could complete a game at a reasonable speed, having learnt how to play and win.

Over time, programmes advanced, and soon, the technology was being used by several businesses across the globe. In more recent years, AI systems have been found in the medical field and have been used to conduct climate research, and are the reason self-driving cars were developed.

More so, the use of AI within the art industry recently helped authenticate an artwork. A Swiss company called ‘Art Recognition’ was able to authenticate a disputed piece of artwork in London’s National Gallery through their AI technology. It did this by analysing various features of the piece, such as the brushstrokes and patterns, without the need to X-Ray the painting or have access to the piece itself. This is because the programme is able to analyse a digital photograph. The results from the use of this technology are, according to Art Recognition, over 90% accurate.

However, according to recent research, about half of experts surveyed feel robots and digital agents may replace a significant number of blue- and white-collar jobs. The worry is this may increase income inequality and create a mass of unemployable people. Alternatively, 52% believe robotics and AI will create more jobs than they take.

An image of a custom-printed coffee bag as an example of AI designed coffee bags in an article on whether roasters should use AI to design coffee packaging

Leveraging AI for coffee packaging design

There are various ways the use of AI could benefit roasters when it comes to designing coffee packaging. For instance, by using AI to help them, designers can get a fresh perspective on current designs. AI can help generate designs humans may not have previously thought of, pushing creative boundaries. Notably, an artist recently received an award for artwork created using AI. While this was met with backlash, the piece of art pushes the boundaries of art by translating text to create a realistic image that is truthful and intriguing to those with a preference for realism.

Another benefit to AI is that it can help optimise and speed up the process of coffee packaging design by streamlining the process. Notably, AI is able to analyse vast amounts of data in a short period and then is able to suggest design options that designers can use. More so, AI is able to complete repetitive tasks faster than a human and with reduced risks of error. In turn, this can help save money on potential design mistakes, helping the roaster save money.

More importantly, AI can help maintain consistency across the brand’s coffee packaging. This is also cost-effective as it helps to reduce the likelihood of errors and the roastery needing to reprint the correct design. Consistent coffee branding is key to running a successful business, as it ensures better brand recognition across the board. This helps increase the likelihood of new customers and increase sales.

AI is able to process data quickly and retain more information, which can help roasters conduct research into their target market. AI can be used to analyse general consumer data, such as the primary age group of customers, market trends, packaging performance data, information on the sustainability of the material options, and the most suitable customisation techniques for the material of the coffee packaging. By using AI to filter this data, designers can be given a clear idea of the best kinds of designs to look into based on market trends and customer data.

An image of several customised coffee bags with custom-printed designs in an article on whether roasters should use AI to design coffee packaging

What to consider before letting AI design coffee packaging

To avoid any backlash, there are several considerations a roaster should make before investing in using AI for coffee packaging design. For instance, there are several ethical implications to note. Using AI in coffee packaging design may open the floor to arguments about diminishing the need for human designers and their creativity and craftsmanship. This may lead to a decrease in coffee roasters employing designers and potentially other industries. In turn, this may lead to financial difficulty for designers, and either an increase in unemployment or an influx of employment in other sectors. 

That said, many who are already using AI to help in design say there will still be a need for humans to be involved in the process. Many state AI simply makes “mind-numbing tasks more efficient” by speeding up the process and gathering more data. Ethics are an essential consideration, especially for roasters who pride themselves on working with ethical coffee farms. Furthermore, when looking into the ethics of hiring designers, roasters could look into up-and-coming designers who could use the boost to their careers.

Most importantly, before using AI, roasters are advised to look into any potential legal implications that could arise. This may include finding out whether the AI artwork generated for the design of coffee packaging is the roaster’s property, if it is copyrighted, and whether its use is legal.

When creating designs for coffee packaging, it is essential the brand is consistent across all marketing materials, and showcases the company’s values and personality. MTPak Coffee understands the need to offer high-quality, attractive coffee packaging that is also sustainable. 

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

Our coffee bags and coffee boxes can be customised to reflect your brand’s characteristics, as well as vital information about your product. 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, to name a few. 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 custom finishes for your coffee packaging, contact our team.

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