In recent years, kraft paper packaging has become one of the most popular choices for specialty coffee roasters. In addition to being affordable, versatile, and widely accessible, kraft paper coffee bags can be fully recyclable and compostable.
Roasters often choose these bags because of their strength and durability. On the other hand, customers tend to prefer them as they have a lower carbon footprint and can be recycled fairly easily.
Beyond this, brands using kraft paper coffee bags are often perceived to be more sustainable. Customers have grown to recognise certain materials are more eco-friendly than others, and often pass that association onto the brand.
Exploring the popularity of kraft paper packaging in specialty coffee
Research shows a growing number of consumers prefer recyclable packaging and are willing to pay more for it. Recycling is a socially desirable behaviour, so customers are more likely to do it to impress others or imitate popular behaviours.
While recyclable plastics and bioplastics are also often used in coffee packaging, kraft paper is compostable and easier to recycle. Many plastics or bioplastics need to be recycled at industrial facilities or require special collection. Alternatively, when left untreated, kraft paper can break down in as little as 90 days.
In several countries, kraft packaging can also be disposed of at home along with corrugated cardboard, where it will be collected and taken to a recycling facility. Notably, of all the different types of packaging materials, fibre-based packaging such as kraft paper is most likely to be recycled kerbside.
In Europe alone, the paper recycling rate is more than 70%, simply because consumers know how to dispose of and recycle it correctly. Kraft paper can be recycled up to seven times before becoming completely degraded.
That said, the qualities that make kraft paper eco-friendly also mean it will weaken when in contact with water. More so, it will eventually degrade in the presence of heat, sunlight, and humidity. In their natural state, both bleached and unbleached kraft coffee bags will have poor barrier qualities, making the beans vulnerable to moisture, heat, and light.
So, when packaging larger quantities, kraft coffee bags must be lined with a stronger barrier material to preserve the coffee’s quality. A degradable lining such as polylactic acid (PLA) has a high tensile strength and can withstand temperatures of up to 215°C (420°F).
Additionally, it has good water vapour and humidity barrier properties. PLA also breaks down in as little as 90 days when placed in a commercial composting environment.
Beyond this, kraft paper is also lightweight. Therefore, it is unlikely to add to a coffee roaster’s weight-based transportation and storage costs. Research from the International Journal of Scientific Research and Management Studies shows packaging that is easy to carry, use, and store performs better in the market.
Can natural kraft paper coffee bags alter consumer perception of a brand?
Within the specialty coffee sector, kraft paper can be used for everything from pouches and takeaway coffee cups to custom subscription boxes. Both white (or bleached) and brown (or natural) kraft paper are suitable for packaging roasted coffee. The choice for roasters boils down to how they want their packaging to be portrayed to customers.
For instance, roasters with an existing and recognisable brand can opt for white kraft paper. This option will reproduce images, colours, and logos more accurately during print runs.
Alternatively, roasters who want to portray a rustic, natural feel may find that brown kraft paper is a better choice. Additionally, roasters who opt for brown kraft paper bags can use custom-printed stickers and labels as part of their branding.
“All of our coffee bags are produced using recycled materials,” explains Mario from Café Jaguar. Mario has years of experience as a coffee producer and barista in Colombia. “Our kraft paper coffee bags allow us to give a second life to recycled materials. The look also supports the idea of our brand, which focuses around the exotic beauty of the jaguar.”
In a further bid to boost the sustainability of the brand, Café Jaguar recycles the rainwater used in the production process of its exotic coffees. “As we produce directly from our farms, we can ensure only organic techniques are used. We don’t use fertilisers or insecticides to help reduce the impact on the environment.”
Carlos, the CEO of Coffee Hackers explains the brand only uses flat-bottom coffee bags made from recyclable kraft paper. “Our coffee bags are easy to recycle and great for our brand recognition,” he says.
“Since the beginning, our kraft paper bags have featured a pocket for coffee cards, and that has become our signature.”
What to consider when investing in kraft paper coffee bags
It is important to remember that not all kraft paper comes from a sustainable or ethical source. Roasters can determine if the paper comes from a responsibly managed forest by inquiring whether it is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified.
When kraft paper is made using wood sourced from FSC-certified forests, it carries the FSC’s label, which is a clear commitment to sustainability and responsible sourcing. It demonstrates the roaster has chosen to not only use a material that can be easily recycled but also preserve the world’s forests for future generations.
This is essential at a time when consumers have started showing a clear preference for more eco-friendly products. At MTPak Coffee, we understand the importance of looking after not only the world’s forests but the entire planet for future generations. As such, we can guarantee that all our paper-based coffee packaging, including our kraft paper bags, are from forests that have been certified by the FSC.
Our fully kraft paper coffee bags can be fitted with degassing valves, additional layers, and resealable zippers to preserve freshness.