Resealable coffee packaging: How long can it preserve freshness?

Holly Szakal
September 19, 2023
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Preserving the freshness of your coffee is vital to providing the perfect, flavourful cup. More so, it plays a key part in maintaining customer reputation and retention. This is why resealable coffee packaging has become a popular solution for those looking to extend the shelf life of their product.

A cup of coffee’s taste and aromatics are indicators of the freshness of the beans, and how effectively the roasted coffee has been sealed and stored. When stored incorrectly, a coffee’s aroma can begin to fade, increasing the risk of providing customers with a lacklustre cup.

More so, it may cause a rapid decline in customer loyalty. Volatile components are naturally released in coffee. Additionally, specific environmental storage conditions and resealing processes can accelerate this release.

Therefore, ensuring sound resealing processes will prolong the freshness and overall flavour of your coffee for many months past its roast date.

To learn more about how resealable coffee packaging can help preserve freshness, I spoke to Michael Healy, head roaster at Lost Sheep Coffee in the UK.  

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What factors affect the shelf life of roasted coffee?

The natural oils found in freshly roasted coffee begin to oxidise and lose potency the moment it is exposed to oxygen. However, if your roasted coffee is packaged and sealed correctly, and stored in a cool, dark environment, its freshness can be preserved for up to 12 months. 

Once opened, roasted coffee beans can retain a fair-grade level of freshness for up to one week if stored away from elemental enemies. Therefore, it’s advised to store your beans in a dark and dry environment, away from air, moisture, heat, and light.

Roast profiles also have a part to play in the varying shelf life timeframes as different roasts will oxidise at different speeds. Dark roasts tend to degas quicker than light roasts because they spend more time in the roaster. This allows more small cracks to form in the beans, which speeds up the carbon dioxide release when exposed to oxygen.

It is also recommended that consumers grind their coffee freshly for each use. While ground coffee can last for 1 to 2 weeks in effective, resealable packaging, it has a much larger particle surface area. This naturally exposes the coffee to more oxygen and results in the staling process occurring more quickly.

Beyond this, freshly ground coffee naturally has a high-grade consistency, taste, and overall quality in comparison to pre-ground coffee.

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How long can coffee last in resealable packaging?

Packaging plays a crucial factor in correct storage processes. For instance, roasted coffee could potentially lose up to 40% of its initial aroma after just 8 hours of air exposure if sealed incorrectly.

Resealable coffee packaging allows cafes and consumers alike to close the bags once opened. This effectively cuts off the oxygen supply to the beans, prolonging their shelf life. That said, even the highest quality beans are unlikely to last long without correct storage. 

“When stored at room temperature and sealed, roasted coffee is normally its tastiest between 7 and 30 days past its roast date,” Mike explains. “This is because coffee is constantly releasing carbon dioxide after roasting.” 

Beyond this, resealable packaging can be the more affordable and sustainable choice for coffee brands and consumers. If you choose the right material and seal, your packaging can be partially or fully recycled.

Notably, flexible resealable packaging weighs less and takes up less space than rigid packaging. This makes it easier to store and ship, which reduces both transport and storage costs. 

Clearly communicating your choice of seal to your customers — and telling them how the packaging can be recycled — could improve their view of your business even further. Consumers want convenience, and resealable packaging ticks that box for sure. Market research has shown that the popularity of packaging “requiring superhuman efforts” to open is “declining rapidly”.

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Which coffee packaging material is best for preserving freshness?

Research shows around 36% of plastic produced globally is used to create packaging, of which 85% ends up in landfill. With consumers becoming more aware of the plastic waste crisis, studies show 67% of buyers prioritise recyclable packaging.

Several sustainable forms of resealable coffee packaging are available, such as recyclable pouches. 

“Traditionally, the best bags to store coffee in were dual-material: paper or plastic lined with aluminium,” Mike says. “While these had an excellent barrier, they cannot be recycled at all. At Lost Sheep Coffee, we use fully recyclable coffee bags that offer superior barrier protection. All of our coffee bags also have recyclable one-way valves.”

As the world shifts to a more sustainable one, many variations of eco-friendly packaging materials exist. There are multi-layered bags made of materials such as kraft paper, low-density polyethylene (LDPE), and polylactic acid (PLA). Each is fully recyclable and, when combined, offers superior barrier protection for roasted coffee. 

The last factor in choosing the correct packaging materials to preserve freshness is the sealing mechanism. Resealable zippers and tin ties offer distinct advantages based on preference, cost considerations, and desired packaging properties.

Zippers provide a more airtight seal for prolonged freshness, making them the perfect option for coffee that requires an extended shelf life. On the other hand, tin ties are cost-effective and ideal for smaller coffee bags, where extended shelf life is not the main point of focus. However, it’s important to note that tin ties will not provide an airtight seal. Therefore, this may allow for air and moisture to enter the packaging and affect the coffee’s freshness over time.

At MTPak Coffee, we can help you decide on the best resealing option for your coffee bags, from pocket and loop zippers, to tear notches and zip locks. All our resealable features can be integrated into our recyclable, compostable, and biodegradable coffee bags made from 100% recyclable materials such as kraft paper, rice paper, LDPE, and lined with PLA

Our coffee packaging solutions offer high-barrier protection, while being made from biodegradable, compostable, and recyclable materials that will help reduce your carbon footprint. Our kraft paper and PLA packaging options are certified by TÜV Austria as OK compost HOME and OK compost INDUSTRIAL, while our degassing valves are also compostable.

Images by Lost Sheep Coffee.

For more information on resealable coffee packaging, contact our team

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