Ideal coffee subscription boxes: Finding the perfect fit for your brew

Antonio Salles
January 17, 2024
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In the ever-evolving landscape of the specialty coffee industry, an aspect that continues to grow in popularity is coffee subscriptions. A heightened appreciation for artisanal coffee and the convenience of online transactions has allowed brands to tap into the recurring revenue of offering coffee subscription boxes. 

That said, factors such as sustainability and the consumer experience have also taken centre stage. Recent studies show 77% of UK consumers believe brands should use as little packaging as possible. Excess packaging often refers to an unnecessary or disproportionate amount of packaging materials. It involves using additional materials for product protection, preservation, or presentation. 

Therefore, the size of coffee subscription boxes has become a critical consideration. Using fewer materials in subscription boxes reduces the weight, which helps to lower and optimise shipping costs. Beyond this, using a box that perfectly houses coffee bags can help ensure a stellar consumer experience. 

To learn more about finding the right size coffee subscription boxes, I spoke with Rohan Cooke from Australia’s Golden Brown Coffee.

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Coffee subscription boxes: Why size matters

Consumers have become increasingly vocal about their disdain for the excess packaging that accompanies online deliveries. The frustration stems from various factors, including negative environmental impact and the inconvenience of disposing of additional packaging. Research indicates consumers view excess packaging as an inconvenience. More so, it’s a reflection of a brand’s commitment to environmental responsibility. 

Additionally, approximately 80.2% of returned goods are linked to damaged or broken products, emphasising the need for appropriate packaging solutions. Brands must understand that a negative consumer experience and unsustainable practices can tarnish their reputation and affect sales.  

Moreover, the issue of parcels left outside, vulnerable to theft or weather-related damage, adds another layer of concern.  

“Every year, consumers become more conscious of their waste, and they want to see that the brands they buy from are also conscious,” Rohan explains. “I don’t think they expect brands to be perfect, but they want to see that they aren’t being purposefully wasteful with excess packaging, marketing materials, and oversized boxes. On the other hand, consumers don’t like it if the sustainable packaging leads to damaged bags or stale coffee, so roasters need to find a balance.”

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What size should coffee subscription boxes be?

Several factors will help determine the ideal size for subscription boxes. The primary factor influencing box size is the dimensions of the coffee bags included in the subscription. Different coffee subscription services may offer varying bag sizes. Aligning the box size ensures a snug fit without the need for excess padding such as bubble wrap. 

Additionally, the type of subscription service offered plays a crucial role. Subscriptions that focus solely on coffee may use smaller boxes than those including additional items such as brewing equipment or branded merchandise. 

Brands keen on optimising their packaging should carefully evaluate the dimensions of their products, ensuring a perfect fit that aligns with their subscription offerings.

At Golden Brown Coffee, Rohan explains, they have set coffee bag sizes, “so it’s easy to design boxes that fit them perfectly for different subscriptions. We’ve also designed our bags to have matching width and length so that they were interchangeable across box sizes.”

Rohan says this method not only uses less packaging, but also allows for a more satisfying unboxing experience, as the bags fit perfectly within the box. “This also leads to less damage as the bags don’t bounce around inside the box during transit. We like to use a fully recyclable cardboard box, as it’s easy for consumers to dispose of correctly, but it also protects the bags from being crushed and damaged.”

It’s also important that the subscription box be a comfortable fit in mailboxes. In the UK, for instance, mailboxes typically measure 41cm in height, 31cm in width, and 16cm in depth. In the US, residential mailboxes are approximately 18cm in height and 15cm in width and have a depth ranging between 40cm and 50cm. 

Canadian mailboxes, without a specified standard, generally have dimensions of 41cm in height, 31cm in width, and 16cm in depth. For the EU, mailboxes usually reach up to 45cm in height, 35cm in width, and 20cm in depth. 

Last but not least, the visual appeal of the boxes should be ‘insta-worthy’ to encourage customers to share their unboxing experiences on social media. This helps generate more organic marketing for the brand. Custom coffee subscription boxes can internalise branding recognition by incorporating personalised messages or handwritten notes to enhance the unboxing experience.  

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What to consider when investing in coffee subscription boxes

As brands venture into coffee subscriptions, weight becomes a crucial consideration, as it directly influences consumer shipping costs. Beyond this, sustainable materials are essential to align with global environmental consciousness, and brands should prioritise packaging that is easy to dispose of responsibly. 

Additionally, strategic branding on custom printed boxes can enhance the unboxing experience and create a memorable touchpoint with customers.  

“Sustainable options are becoming more and more accessible and cost-effective,” Rohan explains. “The biggest challenge we’ve faced at Golden Brown is finding options that maintain the quality of the coffee and service.”

Ultimately, the ‘ideal’ coffee subscription box size emerges as a balance between practical considerations, sustainability, and a commitment to delivering a seamless and eco-friendly experience for coffee enthusiasts.

Rohan adds that the brand has had to do a lot of research in finding an eco tape that won’t unstick during delivery. “You can also reduce additional packaging by using technology. Rather than having multiple marketing communications in the box, you can simply lead consumers to any information they might need through a QR code,” he adds. 

“Sometimes the right choice can be a little more expensive, but when it adds to the consumer’s overall experience, I think it pays itself off very quickly.”

At MTPak Coffee, we offer custom coffee subscription boxes in various sizes that are crafted from 100% recycled cardboard for strength, durability, and weather resistance. Additionally, we provide recyclable coffee packaging options with customisation features such as debossing, embossing, holographic effects, and UV spot finishes. 

Images courtesy of Golden Brown Coffee.

For more information on custom coffee subscription boxes, contact our team

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