Why is rough matte the most common finish for custom coffee bags?

Esther Gibbs
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February 13, 2024
custom coffee bags, custom coffee packaging, sustainable coffee bags, sustainable coffee packaging, packaging finishes, Full Bloom Coffee Roasters, custom printed coffee bags, recyclable coffee bags, LDPE coffee bags,

In the packaging industry, a ‘finish’ refers to an additional coating on the exterior layer of the bag or box. The coating helps protect the design and inks from damage. Beyond this, certain finishes can be used to highlight elements of the packaging design.

Within the specialty coffee industry, several brands choose to use unique finishes on custom coffee bags to attract customers and increase sales. One of the most popular options is a rough matte packaging finish, which is often combined with recyclable coffee bags.

A rough matte finish will have a slightly rough texture compared to the smooth surface of a gloss finish. Beyond this, it will give coffee bags a  softer appearance, as it is less reflective than a glossy finish. 

To better understand why a rough matte finish is most common on custom coffee bags, I spoke to Matt Brown of Full Bloom Coffee Roasters, Stephen Houston from Lucid Coffee Roasters in Northern Ireland, and two-time UK Cup Tasters Champion, Josh Clarke.

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The appeal of a rough matte finish on coffee bags

A packaging finish, also called a coating, often serves to protect ink from scratches, dirt, and fingerprints. Beyond this, it acts as a protective layer, shielding the aromatic essence of coffee beans from the detrimental effects of moisture, light, and oxygen. In addition to its functional role, a packaging finish can also be a storyteller. When combined with sustainable coffee bags, packaging finishes can help convey a brand’s personality to consumers.

Rough matte has a softer finish than its glossy counterpart, as it absorbs light instead of reflecting it. This helps make packaging and the design stand out clearly on shelves and online. The texture is also rough to the touch, giving it a more ‘natural’ feel. Compared to a gloss finish, fingerprints and smears are less likely to show on the surface. Plus, a tough matte finish is more resistant to heat sealing at higher temperatures without curdling. 

A brand that uses a rough matte finish on its custom coffee bags is Lucid Coffee Roasters. “For me, it was the texture,” explains Stephen, who is also Head of Coffee for the brand. “I felt that the glossy option looked cheaper.” He adds that he chose a rough matte finish to “associate my brand with a certain quality. The bags have a nice feel and look to them, and they are recyclable (made from low density polyethylene (LDPE) #4) which is widely accessible.” 

A rough matte finish has a rough texture, similar to sandpaper. This provides customers with a sensory experience, who may associate the feel of the custom coffee bag with sustainability. In its simplest terms, sensory marketing is a strategy that aims to appeal to customers using their five senses. Over time, coffee brands have realised that unconscious and conscious awareness of sensory stimuli can affect consumer behaviour.

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Why is rough matte the most common finish for custom coffee bags?

Research suggests that rough matte packaging has an influence on the perception of the contents as well. In three experiments, researchers revealed that ‘matte packaging induces perceptions of naturalness. The results suggest that marketers can use custom coffee bags with a matte finish to subtly enhance the perceived naturalness of food that consumers typically expect to be somewhat artificial.

Full Bloom Coffee Roasters chose to use haptic matte for its custom coffee bags for similar reasons. “I went for coffee bags that were finished with a haptic matte,” explains the brand owner, Matt. “I thought the finish and texture added a little something to the bag that you don’t see or feel often and it felt very premium, almost adding an extra sensory experience to your coffee.

“My bags are carbon neutral, which was very important to me,” he adds. “The finish is 100% recyclable too.” Brands like Full Bloom Coffee are choosing a rough matte finish for its custom coffee bags to align with its sustainability goals. Beyond this, it means customers can recycle the bags easily at home. 

Full Bloom Coffee customers love the packaging. However, Matt admits he’s had suggestions to invest in a label that effectively adheres to the rough finish. “I get a lot of comments about the bags and the finish,” he says. “Although I did have to spend time testing to find a label that would actually adhere to the bags, while making sure it was recyclable.”

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Breaking down the pros and cons

Industry legend and double UK Cup Tasting Champion, Josh Clarke has had similar experiences when picking packaging materials for companies he previously worked for. Despite these challenges, many brands chose rough-matte texture as a point of difference from other brands in the market.

“These bags are fully recyclable in the UK,” Josh explains. “Everyone seemed to be doing white or pink bags or boxes. So, I wanted a texture that once you picked up the bag, it had a point of difference.” 

A rough matte finish on custom coffee bags allows brands to have a premium aesthetic and feel to the product. Additionally, it’s extremely affordable for businesses. The finish also reduces glare in photos by absorbing the light, making it easy for brands to take aesthetic images of the products. This is fantastic for both in-house marketing and customers, as it encourages them to share images of the product on social media. 

MTPak Coffee understands the need to offer high-quality, attractive coffee packaging that is also sustainable. Our range of packaging options is made from renewable materials. Our coffee boxes are made using recycled cardboard, while our sustainable coffee bags are made using kraft paper, rice paper, or multilayer LDPE packaging with an environmentally friendly PLA lining.

Our coffee bags and coffee boxes can be customised to reflect your brand’s characteristics, as well as vital information about your product. MTPak Coffee offers a wide range of customisation techniques, including spot UV with a glossy, satin, or matte finish, embossing and debossing, as well as hot foil stamping in a variety of colours.

We also offer our clients a quick turnaround time of 40 hours and 24-hour shipping time in addition to low minimum order quantities (MOQs) for those looking to remain agile while showcasing a commitment to the environment.

For more information on how to best customise your coffee packaging, contact our team.

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