Silverskin Coffee Roasters in Dublin, Ireland, began with owner Brian Kenny serving freshly roasted coffee from a kiosk. As a finalist for the 2023 Circular Economy Grant, Brian explains how the brand has evolved into an award-winning business that offers its consumers unique coffee cylinders.
In 2012, customers could find Brian serving and roasting coffee on-site, in the centre of Dublin’s financial district. “People loved the smell of fresh roasting. It definitely helped attract customers,” explains Brian, who has over 20 years of experience working in the Irish coffee industry.
The kiosk had no storage space or toilet, but Brian admits it worked for them – at the time. “Working in that environment was incredible. You’re out with the customer, sitting in the middle of them, and there’s no time to disengage. We had to work to be sustainable, and so it’s something we’ve grown into naturally.”
A roaster with sustainability at its core
Now, 11 years later, Silverskin has moved the business into its third home, roasting in a state-of-the-art facility. The brand uses a 15g and a 30kg CoffeeTec roaster, which were chosen because of their technological and sustainable edge.
“These roasters have infrared drums with thermodynamic technology,” Brian explains. “The gas and air mix in the combustion chamber, which means their environmental footprint is unbelievably low. Plus, they’re incredibly efficient, which is in line with what we promote alongside Origin Green.”
Origin Green is an Irish initiative that supports food manufacturers and service companies ‘to meet the evolving sustainability needs and demands of global consumer markets’. To be a member, your business must undergo an audit and set reasonable targets. This often includes supplier sustainability certifications, supplier initiatives and packaging, manufacturing processes and operations, and social responsibility.
Silverskin sourced its first coffee from the UK and imports specialty arabica coffee directly from Hamburg and the Netherlands. Furthermore, the brand has spent years building strong relationships with the farmers. “The more you develop and grow as a business, the better you understand how much money is going back to the farm, and how the coffee is grown and produced sustainably,” Brian says.
“We work with farms that care about the environment and community, that strive to be sustainable and reuse water because they understand it all lends itself to their product.”
Coffee cylinders: Breaking coffee packaging norms
Silverskin exclusively purchases high-quality coffee, and this is reflected in the design of its packaging. Brian reveals they partnered with a local Irish artist to design the branding and help them determine a final colour palette.
Silver represents the silverskin – a crucial part of the coffee bean’s anatomy, red symbolises the fire used in roasting, and purple reflects the water used to make espresso. Instead of opting for traditional, flexible coffee bags, the brand decided to invest in sturdy, recyclable paper tubes with a fresh seal. The logo runs along the side of the tube from top to bottom, with the silver colour standing out on the black background.
“The coffee cylinders are a labour of love,” Brian explains. “They’re 3 to 4 times the cost of coffee bags, but we wanted to do something completely different to our competitors. Bags tend to look fantastic on the internet and on Instagram, but when you get them in your hand, they never look as good in real life.”
Silverskin wanted to offer recyclable packaging that featured peel-fresh technology. This means when consumers open the canister, they still get that experiential whiff of coffee. “The cylinders are rigid which means customers can put a scoop in with ease. Plus, the cylinders can be stored in the consumer’s kitchen without fuss, as it looks like groceries. It improves the whole coffee experience.”
The brand was looking for distinctive packaging that highlighted the design. “Something superior and different,” Brian adds. Notably, in the last year and a half, many of the brand’s Google Reviews feature customers praising the innovation and recyclability of the canisters.
In fact, a regular customer loved the canisters so much, his wife used them for a Christmas craft project at her school. Children used the coffee canisters to make decorations, penholders, and even a giant rocket. This led to Silverskin visiting the school to do a presentation on sustainability and recycling.
Reducing waste within the roastery
Beyond this, Silverskin has reduced waste within the business by doing all local, wholesale deliveries in reusable containers. This is opposed to the traditional double-walled cardboard boxes that are likely to be thrown in the recycling.
Briand freely admits this is less convenient, as it requires additional planning and cleaning. However, he says it ends up cheaper for everyone involved, and above all, it’s better for the environment.
Within the next year, Silverskin will be launching its own cold brew coffee. Brian explains they plan to package their cold brew in infinitely recyclable aluminium cans. This means they can be recycled several times without the materials degrading, contributing to a circular economy. Furthermore, Silverskin is looking to make its wholesale packaging bags completely recyclable, as they currently have a foil lining.
At MTPak Coffee, we understand the importance of looking after the environment for future generations. As such, we can guarantee that all our paper-based coffee packaging, including our kraft paper bags and custom paper tubes, are from forests that have been certified by the FSC.
Furthermore, our aluminium cans for cold brew coffee are 100% recyclable and offer superior protection against light and oxygen. Beyond this, cans for cold brew coffee have a broad printable surface. This means they offer a variety of customisation options to enhance consumer engagement and brand prominence.
By switching to sustainable materials for your packaging, whether it’s kraft paper, rice paper or PLA, you are, in effect, showcasing your commitment to environmental sustainability to your consumers. It also demonstrates an ability to keep abreast of new trends, giving people confidence and trust in the quality of your product.
Get to know the finalists of the MTPak Coffee Circular Economy Grant. Read our exclusive interview with the owner and founder of Tigray Coffee Co, Richard Ali, and learn how the brand is tackling packaging waste in Nigeria by investing in biodegradable coffee bags.
Images from Silverskin Coffee Roasters