Recent 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.
Within the packaging industry, a “finish” refers to an additional coating on the exterior layer of a bag or box to help protect the design and inks from damage. Additionally, certain finishes can be used to highlight elements of the packaging design. Within the specialty industry, several roasters choose to use unique finishes on their coffee bags to attract customers and increase sales.
Once a brand understands its customer base, it can invest in a coffee packaging finish that not only resonates with its audience but also provides a premium product. As there are several packaging finishes available, let’s explore how you can use them to give your coffee brand a premium look.
Understanding what a packaging finish is
Essentially, a packaging finish is a design technique that is the final step in the packaging manufacturing process. It is usually a layer, most commonly a varnish or laminate coating that helps protect the packaging from smears, dirt, and tears. Furthermore, it can elevate a design and bring further attention to a brand and product.
Several styles of packaging finishes are available that can help accentuate a brand’s style and aid in marketing, which further increases brand awareness and possible sales. Studies have found visual elements of packaging play a major role in representing the product for consumers when making purchasing decisions.
For specialty roasters, a packaging finish on coffee bags may help increase the perceived value of the offering. For example, matte finishes tend to have a premium look as they are more demure than other styles. Customers may then assume the product inside is also of premium value and are more likely to purchase it.
More so, certain packaging finishes may boast unique textures, which may elicit different reactions from consumers, as several studies show packaging texture can influence a consumer’s overall satisfaction with a product. Therefore, it is important to acknowledge the texture provided by different finishes and which ones are best suited to the brand. Additionally, packaging finishes on coffee bags may decrease the likelihood of damage, such as tears, helping to protect the beans from contamination. This allows the product to be enjoyed by consumers at high quality as intended.
What finishes are commonly on coffee packaging?
Specialty coffee bags showcase a range of packaging finishes, with some being more common than others.
Spot UV is a transparent coating made of polymer resin. It is applied to packaging materials in liquid form and cured or sealed using an ultraviolet (UV) light. This results in a glossy effect that can make the coffee bag stand out among others on the shelf. For instance, text topped with spot UV is often more readable and clearer, and the colours are more vibrant as it catches the surrounding light.
In addition to providing a smooth texture on the coffee packaging, spot UV can be used to cover the entire. However, it is commonly used to bring consumers’ attention to particular areas of packaging, such as the logo or name of the company, helping to raise brand awareness. For example, Dark Arts Coffee uses a spot UV finish on its Poison Dart coffee bags. The brand has combined a plain black background with a spot UV coating on the logo, making it stand out without a need for colour.
Alternatively, pearlescent packaging finishes use light refraction to give the coating a pearl-like effect. It consists of transparent layers made with refracted indices, which amplify or absorb wavelengths of light, making the coating shimmer. When using this coating, it should be noted that the smaller the pigment size, the stronger coverage, and therefore, the higher the shimmer.
Notably, when combined with sustainable packaging materials, a UV-based pearlescent coating will create coffee bags that are recyclable and biodegradable. This is a rarer and therefore premium look to use on coffee packaging. It would be particularly beneficial for roasters who use water in their logo, or who have a brand related to pearls, water, or water-based legends.
Another unique packaging finish includes the use of holographic elements. The technique is achieved through the use of holographic film which contains microscopic edges that reflect light. This creates a shimmering rainbow-like or mermaid effect that may shift in colour depending on the angle of the consumer’s view. Binh Minh Coffee in Vietnam uses holographic elements over its entire coffee bag. Its influence comes from Vietnam and the various colours that make up the landscape and sunrises. The packaging instantly stands out and the colour, combined with the origin information, creates an instant intrigue and appeal.
It is important to consider your main consumer base before investing in this finish, as some techniques may use metallised polyester or aluminium, which are not environmentally friendly. Sustainable packaging that can be reused or recycled has become a priority for consumers, with a recent survey showing 90% of consumers would pay premium prices for sustainable packaging. Therefore, it is essential to research the biodegradable, recyclable and plant-based options available for holographic film.
This packaging finish uses a specialised ink that contains metallic particles to create a raised texture design with a reflective finish. It is incredibly effective at lifting minimalistic designs. Metallic sheens create a high-end shine without being as flashy as a glossy finish. Studies show several consumers internalise glossy packaging with low-quality foods. Metallic sheens have the ability to be able to draw attention to a product without being too glossy or garish, keeping consumer interest high.
The appearance of a satin finish, also known as soft touch, falls between a glossy and matte finish to give coffee packaging a velvety texture. A satin finish is a premium option for those who want to stand out with a timeless and classic look and is a popular packaging finish. For instance, Summit Coffee has created a subtle light-reflecting effect on its coffee bags using a satin finish. This gives the product a premium look and lifts the overall visual appeal of the bag.
What packaging finish works best for your coffee bags?
It is important to note that this will be dependent on multiple criteria, including your consumer market, the packaging materials you have chosen, and their sustainability.
When designing coffee packaging, a brand should take note of its main customer base and cater its designs to those consumers. Coffee brands can use audience tools on social media to see the primary gender, age range, and location of customers.
Notably, not all materials are suitable for each packaging finish. For example, an unbleached kraft paper bag may be unable to take a holographic design. This being the case, roasters may benefit from determining whether a design element or packaging material is most important, and design the look around that.
More importantly, it is unlikely every packaging finish will be eco-friendly. Putting a non-recyclable element onto a recyclable material may cause confusion for consumers. It would be beneficial to research which finishes are eco-friendly, as by using recyclable elements across the board, roasters can widen their consumer base as more consumers are looking to purchase sustainable products.
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.