Why invest in hermetic green coffee bags?

Antonio Salles
January 11, 2024
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Several factors can affect the quality of green coffee. These include humidity and water activity inside packaging, incorrect storage conditions that allow for exposure to oxygen, and damage during transportation. 

However, the price of coffee depends on its quality. Therefore, maintaining high-quality standards allows coffee farmers and cooperatives to command better prices in the market. This relationship between quality and price incentivises investments in technologies and innovations that enhance and preserve the quality of green coffee. 

Hermetic green coffee bags are designed to be moisture and air-tight to protect raw coffee against insect infestation, moisture changes, and damage caused by exposure to temperature and humidity. 

Maintaining freshness is an essential part of green coffee storage, but minimising environmental damage at this stage of the supply chain is also crucial. So, how can green coffee buyers and traders keep their product properly stored while also staying sustainable?

To learn more about the benefits of investing in hermetic green coffee bags, I spoke to Ken Foster, a professor of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University

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Preserving the freshness of green coffee: From moisture to microbes

The majority of bulk green coffee is transported in jute bags or sacks, which are made from plant materials. While this makes the packaging fully biodegradable, it also leaves green coffee susceptible to moisture and pests. 

Shipping green coffee from South America to the US, for instance, can take between 2 to 3 weeks. Transporting them from Asia or Africa can take up to 6 weeks – plenty of time for factors such as humidity and oxygen to affect its quality. 

Green coffee beans are more dense than their roasted counterparts, making them more resistant to physical damage during transportation. However, studies show that moisture is a significant threat to green coffee quality, particularly in humidity-laden regions such as Colombia’s Central Andean ranges. 

Excessive moisture can encourage the growth of mould, dull the hue of the green coffee, and taint the taste. Therefore, meticulous control over storage conditions is essential. 

While moisture content has long been the traditional quality gauge, recent research points to a more precise metric: water activity. While moisture content refers to how much moisture there is inside coffee, water activity indicates how likely that water is to result in further transformations, such as fermentation and mould.

A solution to preserving the freshness of green coffee is using hermetic packaging. These green coffee bags create an airtight environment designed to prevent the exchange of gasses, focusing primarily on inhibiting oxygen infiltration. 

The Purdue Improved Crop Storage (PICS) hermetic bags are a potential game-changer in the fight against quality decline. PICS bags are typically available in 50kg and 100kg capacities, catering to individual farmers and small-scale storage needs. 

“You can’t store coffee [for seasonal storage] in jute coffee bags because it will absorb moisture and quality will deteriorate,” Argues Ken, who is also the Interim Dean of Agriculture at the university. “If the moisture exceeds 14%, buyers won’t even purchase it.”

This airtight packaging restricts moisture and oxygen exposure, creating a controlled environment that nurtures the coffee beans’ true essence. “Our work with PICS has been focused on transportation and adding value to farmers by allowing them to store to get seasoned higher prices,” Ken adds. 

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How do hermetic green coffee bags work?

Hermetic green coffee bags aim to create an environment that minimises the beans exposure to oxygen, moisture, and other potential contaminants. As mentioned, oxygen is a significant contributor to the degradation of green coffee, leading to issues such as mould, off-flavours, and loss of quality. By creating an airtight seal, hermetic green coffee bags prevent the entry of oxygen, thereby reducing the risk of oxidative reactions that can harm the product. 

Hermetic bags shield green coffee from enemies like oxygen and moisture, preserving quality longer. Sealed tight, they block oxygen, preventing bad flavors and the growth of mould. They also help moisture, which is vital in humid regions, keeping the beans fresh for extended storage and travels.

Hermetic packaging is precious for storing and shipping specialty or high-quality coffees. These coffees often have unique flavour profiles that external elements can easily affect. Hermetic coffee bags offer a level of protection that is especially important for preserving the distinct qualities of specialty coffees.

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What to look for in hermetic green coffee bags

There are several important factors to consider when investing in packaging for green coffee. These include barrier capabilities, moisture efficiency, and sustainability features. 

Minimising the environmental impact of green coffee storage requires a two-pronged approach: reducing waste and ensuring optimal freshness. While biodegradable, traditional jute and fique bags offer insufficient protection and degrade poorly in landfills. Plastic liners and GrainPro bags provide better preservation but contribute to single-use waste.

Sustainability shouldn’t take a backseat to freshness when preserving the delicate characteristics of green coffee. Hermetic packaging is a marriage of innovative materials and conscientious practices to ensure both coffee quality and environmental responsibility.

At the forefront of hermetic packaging for green coffee are durable, multi-layered barriers built with mindful materials such as nylon. While not a naturally decomposing hero, nylon shines in its reusability, often entering the virtuous cycle of recycling programmes. 

The journey from farm to cup is a delicate yet pivotal expedition for the world of green coffee. It’s clear that hermetic packaging, with its airtight fortification against the perils of oxygen, moisture, and external contaminants, emerges as a beacon of assurance. The transition from traditional jute bags to innovative solutions like Purdue Improved Crop Storage (PICS) and environmentally conscious materials signals a transformative era in preserving green coffee’s integrity. 

At MTPak Coffee, our hermetic green coffee bags offer specialised storage and packaging solutions that seal in freshness and maintain the sensory attributes of your product. Multiple layers of high-barrier packaging mean these airtight bags extend shelf life significantly, preserving natural oils and flavours for richer, nuanced profiles.

Our range of hermetic green coffee packaging is made using high-strength PE and boasts superior water and air properties. More so, they can keep your products fresh without the help of pesticides or insecticides, for over a year. 

For more information on hermetic packaging for green coffee, contact our team

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Antonio Salles
Antonio Salles

Antonio brings a unique perspective to the world of coffee: one rooted in academia and personal experience from growing up on a coffee plantation. Formerly an English Professor, his to coffee writing reflects an enduring passion for the beverage. “I see coffee as a narrative that transcends cultures and flavors, crafting each article to inform and evoke emotions, and connecting readers with the rich stories woven by coffee.”

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