Compostable coffee bags: The power of simple packaging design

Amelia Cooper
September 20, 2023
Compostable coffee bags, compostable coffee packaging, coffee bag design, coffee packaging design, Belfast Coffee Roasters

For a long time, sustainability in business seemed to be just out of reach. However, innovations in sustainability over the last decade have brought about new packaging materials with biodegradable, compostable, and low-impact properties. 

Now, brands have endless resources and packaging options at their disposal. Specifically, advancements in compostable coffee bags have proven critical for the coffee industry. Compostable coffee packaging can help businesses reduce their carbon footprint and minimise plastic production – all with a few thoughtful switches. 

To learn more about the benefits of using compostable packaging for both tea and coffee, I spoke with Allen Cox, the CEO at Belfast Coffee Roasters about how the brand is future-proofing its product lines.

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Historically inspired, minimalist coffee packaging

The brainchild of Allen Cox and Rodney Bell, Belfast Coffee Roasters, launched in 2017. “I was a supplier of coffee, and Rodney was looking to start up a coffee shop/bicycle repair business,” explains Allen, who has 15 years of experience in the coffee industry. 

“We both wanted to get into coffee roasting. So, in December 2017, we set up Belfast Coffee Roasters.” Then, in March 2018, the duo purchased a second-hand roaster and had it delivered to their site in Belfast. “Neither of us had roasted before but, via the knowledge gained from reading Scott Rao‘s books, we set off.” 

Five years later, Belfast Coffee Roasters has cemented itself as one of Belfast’s leading suppliers of specialty, hand-roasted beans. Both its local pride and its commitment to ethical, sustainable, and conscientious practices define the company’s branding. 

The design of Belfast’s coffee packaging is chic and minimalist, with a plain white flat-bottom coffee bag featuring a bold black logo. However, Allen explains the logo itself is deceptively simple. 

“Our roastery is situated in what was the original industrial heartland of Belfast, and this was the driver behind our brand and logo,” he says. “The logo features information about the building that was on the site where our roastery is currently based – in the Foundry Quarter of Belfast.

Allen adds the logo includes the name of the building and the owner of the building. Interestingly, the history behind the growth of the city of Belfast is very relevant to the roastery and its location. The “town” of Belfast finished at Townsend Street, hence its name. 

“We like to think that people look at our logo, ask questions about the information contained within it, and discover the rich industrial heritage of this part of Belfast,” Allen explains. “This has driven our minimalist brand image and our industrial colour palette, as we feel that the history of this area needs to be recognised.” 

To achieve this simultaneous homage to Belfast’s history and celebration of modern roasting practices, Belfast Coffee Roasters has created elegant and minimalist packaging. This also features historically inspired typography, in a subtle nod to the roastery’s location in the heart of 19th-century Belfast’s industry. 

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Compostable coffee bags: Understanding the benefits

As a specialty coffee provider, Belfast Coffee is driven to consistently achieve the highest sustainability standards and to ensure transparency, ethics, and responsibility across all its operations.

“We know the coffee industry is one of the most important commercial value chains worldwide,” Allen says. “Nonetheless, it is also associated with several social, economic, and environmental concerns that impair its sustainability. We need to take action to do our bit to reduce the environmental impact.” 

He explains the team has been researching this area since they started. “For example, we have a purchasing doctrine that tries to reduce the number of ‘hands’ that touch our coffee from farm to roastery, which has led to improved rates paid to farmers for their products.

“Also, we have been supplying some clients with reusable food-safe containers for several years. These have been very well received and have helped reduce the amount of packaging we use,” Allen explains. 

Belfast Coffee Roasters’ 250g and 1kg coffee bags are made using 100% compostable materials. By featuring a number of carefully chosen sustainable packaging innovations, such as a compostable pocket zipper, the brand has been able to attain the very highest environmental standards. 

“We are now able to offer packaging that is both biodegradable and compostable – not in an industrial composter, but in your home compost. And our coffee bags are in compliance with the European certification standard (EN 13432).”

Allen adds that the seedling logo is also printed on the back of each coffee bag. “We also use our social media functions, including our website and direct client contact, to inform consumers about how best to dispose of the bags, and the reasons why we have gone down this road.”

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What about compostable tea packaging?

The brand’s eco-conscious design also translates to the packaging of its tea products. Belfast Coffee Roasters chose a supplier that shares their staunch environmental commitment. 

“We source our tea products from Teapigs tea, which uses biodegradable products for its tea temples and FSC board for its packaging,” Allen explains. Teapigs is a certified B Corp and, alongside a range of other pioneering ESG practices, the company is striving to achieve the most sustainable packaging possible. 

Firstly, the tea temple is made from corn starch and paper. This allows it to break down in industrial composting facilities in less than 12 weeks. Then, the inner bag is a soft plastic, which is recyclable at many local supermarkets. Finally, the outer pack is completely recyclable, made with FSC-certified paper board, and printed using sustainable vegetable ink. 

Teapigs is also a member of The Ethical Tea Partnership initiative, which works to increase the sustainability of the tea industry and improve the livelihoods of farmers across the world. 

At MTPak Coffee, we strive to provide specialty coffee roasters and other businesses with the latest innovations in sustainable tea and coffee packaging. We offer a range of fully compostable coffee packaging solutions that can be fitted with recyclable accessories, such as degassing valves and resealable zippers.

Images by Belfast Coffee Roasters.

For more information on custom-printed compostable coffee packaging, contact our team

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