Should roasters provide consumers with coffee brewing guides?

Esther Gibbs
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July 6, 2023
An image of a cup of specialty coffee on a table near a Blue Hour Coffee pamphlet in an article on whether roasters should offer consumers coffee brewing guides

Coffee producers can spend decades carefully cultivating crops and perfecting processing techniques. Roasters then spend hours selecting the finest coffee, and days refining the roast profile to produce a balanced cup for consumers. 

At the last hurdle, however, it can be easy for customers to fall short in the brewing process. Increasing or decreasing the amount of water or coffee can significantly alter the drink’s taste, viscosity, and more. Therefore, roasters should consider how coffee packaging can enhance a perfect cup each time by guiding consumers through the brewing process. Brewing guides, for example, can be an effective way to ensure customers enjoy every cup of coffee.

Blue Hour Coffee, located in Winchester, UK, offers guides on all brewing methods to help enhance the consumer’s drinking experience at home. I spoke with owners Liam Finney and Nick Williams about why providing brewing instructions is so important.

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Ensuring coffee quality is translated in the cup

Acquiring the knowledge to roast coffee and the creativity to highlight desirable characteristics takes experience. More so, it requires investing in training and patience in repetitive processes until the desired outcome is reached. 

“Creating a roast profile is a lot of trial and error,” says Nick, who has repeatedly competed in the Kaffeine Latte Art Smackdown. “We start with a base knowledge of what characteristics the bean should have, and then account for density, moisture content, and environmental factors.”

‘It’s never as straightforward as creating one profile and sticking to it,” adds Liam, who has experience as head of coffee. “We try to think of the profile as more of a guide to work from. From there it’s just cupping, cupping, cupping.”

Even once the ideal profile is found, Blue Hour Coffee takes quality control incredibly seriously. The team does weekly cuppings and adjusts the roast profiles based on taste and customer feedback.

“As a brand, Blue Hour is built on the concept of creating memories and forming daily rituals around coffee. We started because we both love coffee and wanted to share our passion with others. Creating our own brand and business gave us the freedom to do that in our way,” Nick says. 

An image of Liam Finney and Nick Williams from Blue Hour Coffee in an article on whether roasters should offer consumers coffee brewing guides

How can roasters ensure consumers brew coffee correctly?

It can be easy for customers to ruin their own brew, especially when tackling a new coffee. “Often, it is a minefield of factors such as grind size, water quality and temperature. There is so much to consider and it can be quite daunting to those unfamiliar with specialty coffee,” Liam says. 

“If a new customer makes a bad first cup, they are more likely to blame us, the roasters, than they are themselves,” Nick explains. “That’s why we, as roasters, have to offer as much information as possible to ensure our reputation remains intact.”

Instead of providing specific recipes to its customers, Blue Hour offers brewing guides on its website. For instance, the brand explains its Ethiopian coffees are best enjoyed as filter or espresso. The guide is broken down further, explaining the ideal filter brew uses 15g to 250g water, with a brew time of 2 minutes and 30 seconds. The guide explains 50g of coffee should be used for the coffee to bloom for 30 seconds, and 50g of water should be added every 30 seconds until the water reaches 250g. 

“There are so many external factors to consider when brewing, so we decided to offer customers our best recipe so far,” Liam explains. “This allows our consumers to make changes and adjustments based on what suits their pallet and their brewing set-up.”

To create recipes, the team starts with a very basic ratio of 1:16 for filter and 1:2 for espresso, and then tastes it. “Tasting is the key part. We try it, write our notes down, and try it again, making any changes we deem necessary, such as adjusting the dose and extraction length. We do this for as long as we need to, constantly tasting until we’re both happy.”

An image of compostable coffee packaging, compostable coffee bags, bleached kraft paper coffee bags, in an article on whether roasters should offer consumers coffee brewing guides

The benefits of offering brewing guides with coffee bags

Receiving a new coffee can be daunting, even for a seasoned barista. “We’ve received fantastic customer feedback since offering our brewing guides,” Liam explains. “Having some recommended points to help consumers start out helps puts them at ease.”

Clearly, brewing guides are an effective way to improve customer experience and brand reputation. But, what is the best way to relay this information to customers? 

Notably, Blue Hour features its brewing guides on its social media channels, but also provides customers with information cards that feature recipes. These recipe cards go out with every order and contain information about the origins and producers of the coffee. “We try to be as transparent as we can, shining light on the farmers who so clearly deserve it.”

Providing customers with brewing guides or instructions can help roasters reduce waste and save money. Roasters can choose to provide these instructions using cards that accompany each coffee bag, or by customising packaging with QR codes. A QR code is a square barcode that consumers can scan with their smartphones to learn about products, brands, and more.

A growing number of roasters use them to enhance the customer experience by providing additional information in a quick, convenient, and accessible way.

Roasters can use a QR code to send consumers directly to a digital brewing guide or tutorial video. Alternatively, they can be used to convey the origin, processing method, and flavour notes of the coffee. Custom-printing QR codes on coffee packaging is a simple, effective, and easy way to connect with modern consumers.

MTPak Coffee can help roasters seamlessly integrate QR codes into their coffee packaging using innovative digital printing technology. Our design team can custom–print QR codes directly onto coffee bags, or design customised cards to instruct consumers on how to brew the best cup of coffee.

Our coffee bags and coffee boxes can be customised to reflect your brand’s characteristics, as well as provide 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. 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-printed coffee packaging, contact our team.

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Esther Gibbs
Esther Gibbs

Esther has been in the specialty coffee industry for 14 years working as a Q Grader, SCA Trainer and ESTA trainer. She’s also offers her services as a coffee consultant through Hope Espresso. Her passion for writing comes from her love of sharing stories about the industry and ensuring knowledge is accessible to all.

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