Thanks to its variety of delectable flavour profiles and inviting aromas, specialty coffee attracts at least one billion consumers worldwide. Custom coffee bags are one of the most effective ways to attract the attention of consumers and tell them everything they need to know about a brand in a single glance.
Traditional coffee packaging was specifically designed to protect its contents. Today, however, it often doubles as a marketing tool for specialty coffee roasters and cafes. Studies show brands have approximately seven seconds to attract a customer’s attention enough for them to engage with the product.
Therefore, coffee packaging must not only communicate brand identity and product quality but also help the consumer get to know the brand better.
But, does that mean your custom coffee bags need to be loaded with designs, colours, and product information? Some specialty coffee brands have determined that less is often more.
To learn more about simple, effective ways to create custom coffee bags, I spoke with the founder and CEO of Gripps Coffee, Alex Garrett, and Gary Hopkins, the co-founder of I Love Coffee, based in Cape Town, South Africa.
Why the design of custom coffee bags matters
According to a study conducted by the Paper and Packaging Board, 72% of consumers stated a product’s packaging design influenced their purchasing decision. This implies a great number of consumers form a perceived value of a brand due to its packaging.
It is important to note that consumers may also connect emotionally to a brand, depending on which colour is displayed on the packaging. This may make it easier for specialty coffee roasters to convert this emotional connection into sales.
Notably, the coffee bags’ look and feel are crucial contributors to brand identity, awareness, promotion, and ultimately, sales. When considering how to design custom coffee packaging, roasters will have to consider several factors.
These include colour, design, coffee bag structure, and typography – all of which can help a specialty coffee brand convey story and values, as well as the bean type and roast profile.
“With coffee packaging, you need to put your best foot forward in the market, and immediately tell consumers who you are and what you stand for as a brand,” explains Alex, who comes from a family of entrepreneurs.
“The coffee market is saturated. In my opinion, as a coffee brand, your coffee bag design needs to say something unique in an innovative way. Otherwise, your brand will get lost in a sea of coffee bags,” he adds.
Custom coffee bags: When less is more
When it comes to specialty coffee, consumers are often presented with packaging that is either bold and bright, or muted and neutral. For years, the clean, light brown parchment of kraft paper, coupled with a textual logo or imprint across the front, dominated specialty coffee design for the last decade.
For I Love Coffee, which launched in 2016, the minimalist look of kraft paper coffee bags has worked exceptionally well for the brand. The brand’s natural brown kraft paper coffee bags feature a simple sticker that conveys essential information about the beans inside.
Gary admits that the choice of coffee bag suppliers is limited in South Africa. “We chose kraft coffee bags because we were able to add stamps and stickers for each blend,” he explains. “Now that we’re growing as a brand and roasting more coffee, we’re close to being able to switch to environmentally-friendly printed bags.”
Beyond this, the brand has partnered with a local supplier of biodegradable cups and lids to produce branded takeaway coffee cups. Previously, the brand was using white takeaway coffee cups with its logo stamped onto each one.
“As a non-profit organisation, we don’t have large budgets to make huge changes,” Gary says. “However, even small changes can make a significant impact.” He adds that in 2019, I Love Coffee worked with the Branson Centre for Entrepreneurship to eliminate single-use and non-recyclable packaging from the business.
“We’ve replaced all our takeaway cups, lids, and cutlery with biodegradable materials. Additionally, paper drinking straws have replaced plastic straws. Our goal is to replace our coffee bags with 100% recyclable coffee packaging that is made from low-density polyethylene (LDPE).”
Sustainable practices that go beyond coffee packaging
Beyond the brand’s use of sustainable coffee packaging, I Love Coffee collects its food and coffee waste, as well as used biodegradable packaging. This is then donated to Urban Harvest at the Mary Kihn School for the Deaf and another company that produces fertiliser.
“The school, in turn, sells us seasonal vegetables and herbs, which are used in our cafes,” Gary explains. “As far as possible, any single-use tubs are sterilised and reused, or we donate plastic tubs and buckets to learning centres in our area.”
In 2020, I Love Coffee piloted a project where the brand mixed its organic coffee waste with polymers to produce toilet seats. “Each seat uses around 150 cups of coffee waste,” Gary says. “We’ve applied for funding to purchase the machinery to produce toilet seats and other items at scale from our coffee waste and waste from other coffee companies in South Africa.”
At MTPak Coffee, we applaud any efforts made by specialty coffee roasters to reduce the environmental impact of their business. Therefore, we offer coffee businesses a range of 100% recyclable coffee packaging options that can be custom-printed to your business specifications.
Choose from renewable materials such as kraft paper, rice paper, or multilayer LDPE packaging with an environmentally friendly PLA lining, all of which minimise waste and contribute to a circular economy.
We can help you determine which sealing option is best, whether it be tin ties, loop zippers, tear notches, or ziplocks. All of our resealable features can be seamlessly integrated into our recyclable, compostable, and biodegradable coffee bags made from 100% recyclable materials.
Furthermore, we offer a perfect solution for micro-roasters by providing low minimum order quantities (MOQ) on both recyclable and traditional options.
Images courtesy of I Love Coffee.