What to consider when designing custom coffee bags for wholesale

Maira Kanai-Nasir
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March 19, 2024
custom coffee bags, coffee packaging, coffee bags, wholesale coffee bags, wholesale coffee packaging, sustainable coffee packaging, sustainable coffee bags, custom printed coffee bags, Blue Bottle Coffee

Research shows that the business-to-business (B2B) coffee market will reach an estimated $690.09 billion by 2030. The growth is likely to be driven by larger purchases from businesses such as cafés, restaurants, conference venues, and hotels. Simultaneously, the business-to-consumer (B2C) coffee market is expected to increase by 5.8%.

This phenomenal growth is primarily driven by the increased demand for high-quality coffee. Custom coffee bags have boosted awareness and sales for brands venturing into both retail and wholesale avenues.

To learn more about designing custom coffee bags for wholesale, I spoke to Kevin Thaxton, the Senior Quality and Innovation Manager for Blue Bottle Coffee’s Asia market.

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Understanding the logistics of selling wholesale coffee

The choice between selling coffee wholesale or retail can critically affect the growth of a brand. The decision will largely depend on the brand’s target audience and how it plans to reach it. Both wholesale and retail are highly effective sales channels, each with respective benefits and drawbacks.

Essentially, wholesale coffee is the distribution of coffee in bulk from the roaster to retailers, typically cafés and grocery stores. These retailers then act as “middlemen” by selling the coffee to consumers at a higher price.

Going wholesale increases brand exposure without incurring additional marketing costs. “It’s an opportunity to put your coffee in front of a new audience,” explains Kevin, who has worked with Blue Bottle Coffee for over 12 years.

Wholesale also allows brands to determine the volume of coffee purchased regularly, allowing them to budget better internally. While this sales avenue provides opportunities for quick business expansion, it also requires coffee roasters to put time and energy into building sustainable relationships with their clients.

Kevin notes that not every coffee roaster has the capital to open a café. Selling wholesale, however, is “potentially a whole new revenue stream that can both promote your brand and financially support other parts of your business.”

One difficulty with the wholesale channel is low margins. Essentially, retailers need to sell the coffee at a price that creates a profit for themselves. Unfortunately, this often leaves low margins for the coffee roasters. Additionally, coffee roasters have little say in how their product is presented to customers – which is why packaging design is essential.

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What to consider when designing custom coffee bags for wholesale

It’s important to remember that selling coffee wholesale limits brand interaction with consumers. This further highlights the importance of custom coffee bags and their design.

“In a supermarket, surrounded by 30 other coffees, how are you going to distinguish yourself?” Kevin asks. “There’s no right or wrong answer, it should capture your brand’s values, so you need to be very intentional about every aspect of the design.” This will include the amount of information printed on custom coffee bags.

Overcrowding the design on coffee packaging can overwhelm consumers, causing them to turn away. “I think some people do want more information but does all of it need to be printed on the bag?” asks Kevin. This is, once again, where QR codes come in handy. Kevin believes they are one of the “easiest ways to communicate with consumers.

“QR codes provide flexibility, allowing you to easily update content that might otherwise be more complicated with printed materials. Also, creates an opportunity to engage with consumers on your website.”

Important information should always include a roast date and brand message. “Roast dates are important as they promote product transparency and can be helpful to barista working with your coffee,” Kevin adds. “I often see packaging that lists so much data: elevation, variety, a whole lot of tasting notes, recipes for various brew methods. While that information is good to have, it can take away from the visual beauty of the design.”

Last, the structure of the bag itself must be considered, as the coffee roasters will have no say in how it’s displayed. For example, a stand-up coffee bag may be more effective than a flat-bottom pouch. Kevin’s last recommendation is to consider the sustainability of the packaging. “Think about it in terms of how to use as few materials as possible. This can reduce your packaging costs, simplify your production line and minimise waste.”

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Wholesale coffee packaging: Additional considerations

One of the most important things to consider when going the wholesale route is product freshness. Retaining freshness is crucial for maintaining the flavour, aroma, and overall quality of the coffee. Therefore, the packaging materials for wholesale coffee bags must prevent oxygen, moisture, and light from causing oxidation.

Multilayer coffee packaging is often more reliable than single-layered. “The packaging that I’ve seen have the best preservation is aluminium foil-lined bags,” Kevin says. “They are thicker, more durable, and provide a strong oxygen barrier.”

Additional components, such as degassing valves also help to extend the shelf life of coffee. “For channels with longer transit times or where the coffee is going to sit on shelves for extended periods, nitrogen flushing can significantly reduce oxidation, creating a more stable product.”

Custom coffee bags are a reflection of the brand. Therefore, coffee roasters must consider how consumers will experience the packaging. This includes, for example, how customers will open the bag. “I’ve seen some bags that look beautiful, and then I’m not sure how to open them,” Kevin chuckles. “Or when I open it, I end up tearing off all the information. So, just be mindful of the user experience. I think it’s nice that people get to reseal the bag or roll it up with a tin tie for storing.”

As previously mentioned, sustainability should be front of mind when designing custom coffee bags – particularly with wholesale coffee. Kevin believes that brands should do a significant amount of research to see “where that coffee is going, and if those market’s disposal programs actually support the recycling or composting claims of your packaging. This has become more complex as roasters are selling beyond local markets, but worth considering so you can make an informed decision for what’s the best option for your company,” he adds.

This has become more complex as roasters are selling beyond local markets, but it’s best to consider this so you can make the best decision for your company.

At MTPak Coffee, we offer a range of coffee packaging structures to keep coffee fresh and engage customers. Our range of packaging options is made from completely renewable materials: our coffee boxes are made using recycled cardboard, while our line of coffee bags are made using kraft paper, rice paper, or multilayer LDPE packaging with an environmentally friendly PLA lining.

Beyond this, our coffee bags and coffee boxes can be fully customised to accurately reflect your brand, as well as your coffee’s characteristics. MTPak Coffee offers our clients a quick turnaround time and shipping time, as well as low minimum order quantities (MOQs) to micro-roasters who are looking to remain agile.

For more information on custom coffee bags for your business, contact our team.

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