Exploring the potential of transparent coffee packaging

Janice Kanniah
March 14, 2024
coffee packaging, transparent coffee packaging, coffee bags, transparent coffee bags, YES PLZ Coffee,

Several studies show how product packaging can influence consumer purchasing behaviour. For instance, attractive and informative coffee packaging design can increase perceived product value‌. Good design combined with high-quality materials and finishes will help coffee packaging stand out from competitors. 

One way to ensure your product stands out is to invest in transparent coffee packaging. Notably, the history of transparent packaging can be traced back to the early 1900s, with the accidental invention of clear, flexible cellophane. Transparent coffee packaging puts the roasted beans on full display, allowing customers to see exactly what they’re getting. 

That said, brands may face a few challenges with this packaging choice. These include concerns over whether its relative simplicity appeals to audiences in a highly competitive market and how the benefits outweigh the costs. 

To learn more about transparent coffee packaging and its success rate in today’s market, I spoke to Tony “Tonx” Konecny, the founder of YES PLZ Coffee

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Established benefits of transparent packaging 

Researchers have conducted a fair amount of research into the benefits of transparent product packaging. Clear packaging showcases its contents in a way that allows customers to see the actual product and visualise its quality. It also lets them confirm the quantity of the product inside the bag, and if it’s worth the price. One study suggests that these qualities can enhance a customer’s purchasing intention. 

YES PLZ Coffee is a Californian-based coffee roaster that uses transparent packaging. Founder Tony is a longtime coffee-industry professional and passionate roaster. 

He agrees that “good design is important for standing out in our ludicrously overcrowded market, but there’s no substitute for having good coffee that keeps customers coming back for more.” He also concurs that “pretty packaging might be a shortcut to getting someone’s attention. 

However, Tony reveals he has seen “a lot of new roasters put far too much emphasis on, and too many resources into, their brand and packaging before finding competency in their sourcing and roasting.”

Tony believes that the popularity of transparent coffee bags is growing in popularity as brands try to set themselves apart in an increasingly competitive market. “There is [an oversupply] of new roasting companies struggling to find any footing,” he says. “Unusual packaging is seen as a way to stand out. Until recently, few roasters used clear packaging, so there was some novelty there.” 

The desire to stand out may be a reaction to the rapidly growing international retail coffee market. Despite supply chain issues and rising costs, the market is set to reach $26.2 billion by 2027. Much of this growth is likely to take place across a wide range of distribution channels, including supermarkets, hypermarkets, online platforms, and convenience stores.

coffee packaging, transparent coffee packaging, coffee bags, transparent coffee bags, YES PLZ Coffee,

Why are roasters investing in transparent coffee packaging? 

For YES PLZ Coffee, Tony believes there are many benefits to using transparent materials to package its coffee, including low overheads. He also mentions that clear coffee packaging works well for his existing business sales model, as YES PLZ Coffee operates online. 

“Seeing coffee roasters frequently [spend] as much on bags as they do on the beans inside is insane,” he exclaims. “One thing that should differentiate true micro-roasters from mass-market consumer packaged goods is that coffee is a fresh product with a packaging lifespan that should be measured in days–or no more than a couple of weeks at most.”

Tony explains that “for us, clear packaging feels more honest and allows us to use more readily available stock bags and control costs. In terms of the blank stock bags we’re currently using, it tends to be more affordable with lower minimums.” 

“I’ve used clear coffee packaging as a signature for years, incorporating other design elements into it with stickers and printing. Ultimately, I want something that feels utilitarian, and because we’re 100% mail-order and direct-to-consumer, I don’t need to play the usual games of standing out on a crowded shelf.

“Good coffee doesn’t enjoy the high margins necessary to support offensively wasteful packaging,” Tony says.  

coffee packaging, transparent coffee packaging, coffee bags, transparent coffee bags, YES PLZ Coffee,

The pros and cons of transparent coffee packaging 

Roasted coffee has four main enemies: moisture, air, heat, and light. So, how can transparent packaging materials protect roasted coffee from factors such as heat and direct light?

Tony explains that considering the lifespan of coffee, this may not be a factor. “Your coffee will have gone stale long before light could do any real damage, and most people aren’t putting their bags of coffee on a windowsill.” Customers buying on a biweekly basis, or through subscriptions, are likely to consume their coffee before it can age or develop unpleasant flavours.

“Our [transparent] coffee bags [are shipped] inside paper mailers alongside printed material about our coffees,” Tony says. “So, the overall experience is carried by much more than just the coffee bag. It’s a relative luxury compared to coffees sold off a shelf where the bag has to double as a brochure for the brand.”

Coffee boxes can also add a layer of protection for transparent packaging, particularly while in transit and storage. Transparent coffee bags can also be shipped in inside padded envelopes, which can double as a convenient way to deliver coffee via mail and into letterboxes. 

At MTPak Coffee, we understand the importance of a memorable customer experience. In addition to our range of fully customisable coffee bags, we also offer a range of coffee boxes in various sizes to accommodate the mailboxes in your markets.

Our custom coffee boxes are made from recycled cardboard. They are strong, durable, and weather-resistant. These recyclable coffee boxes can be used for ecommerce sales, coffee subscriptions, blind-tasting boxes, and more.

Additionally, we offer a range of 100% recyclable coffee packaging options made from renewable materials such as kraft paper, rice paper, or multilayer LDPE packaging with an environmentally friendly PLA lining.

Choose from our range of coffee bag structures to ensure they fit perfectly into your coffee mailer boxes. All of our coffee packaging options can be fully customised to your specifications, including debossing, embossing, holographic effects, UV spot finishes, and custom printing using digital printing technology. This allows us to offer low minimum order quantities (MOQs) to micro-roasters, as well as a quick turnaround time and shipping time. 

Images courtesy of YES PLZ Coffee

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Janice Kanniah
Janice Kanniah

Janice is freelance writer based in South Africa and has written for MTPak Coffee since 2020. Her interests are in writing about sustainability, the circular economy, and the future of the environment.

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