Why is airtight green coffee packaging essential? 

Esther Gibbs
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April 8, 2024
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From the burning heat of tropical climates to sudden chilly temperature shifts, green coffee faces several challenges during shipping and transit. The process also exposes the beans to oxygen and moisture, which can compromise their quality. Therefore, exporting and importing this product deserves meticulous attention to detail, and it starts and ends with airtight green coffee packaging. 

Often referred to as hermetic coffee bags, airtight packaging offers a strong protective barrier to ensure green coffee remains untouched by the ravages of time and external environmental factors. In the specialty coffee sector, preserving these nuanced flavours and aromas is essential. Understanding the importance of airtight packaging for green coffee helps brands ensure each brew is a testament to the bean’s excellence. 

In order to preserve the unique characteristics of green coffee, it’s critical to understand which factors affect it. To learn more, I spoke to Phil Schluter, the managing director at UK-based Covoya Specialty Coffee, and Harry Ko, a coffee roaster at Bennetts Coffee.

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Factors that affect the quality of green coffee

The overall factors that affect the quality of green beans encompass a range of environmental and external influences. These can significantly impact the coffee’s flavour, aroma, and freshness, leaving consumers with stale, bitter coffee and robbing them of the rich sensory experience. 

Exposure to oxygen, moisture, heat, and cold during transportation can cause the beans to lose their freshness and vitality. Oxygen exposure is the primary villain in the deterioration of coffee beans, causing them to oxidise. This rapidly leads to a degradation of flavour.

Moisture is an apprentice to oxygen, playing another vital role in the persistent threat to the integrity of green coffee beans. Excess moisture causes the beans to absorb water, which can lead to mould growth and a sharp decline in quality. More so, high levels of internal or external humidity can speed up the unwanted staining process. Therefore, controlling moisture levels is essential to ensuring the beans remain in optimal condition. 

Phil explains that moisture accumulation due to humidity and temperature can vary between day and night. He adds that this is “especially true while passing across equatorial regions and on to consumption countries. This will potentially overwhelm traditional mitigations such as paper lining and desiccant bags and lead to water easily penetrating the jute or traditional bags.

“Hermetic liners will likely prevent the accumulation of humidity in the container as the mass of green coffee is broken down into its own environment. Secondly, they are likely to prevent any moisture that has accumulated or penetrated the container from getting inside the bags to the coffee itself.”

Finally, in the fight against the elements comes light exposure. Direct sunlight takes centre stage, as ultraviolet (UV) rays break down the organic compounds that are naturally present in coffee beans. Light exposure accelerates the degradation process and inevitably leads to oxidation and flavour loss. 

Therefore, for those with coffee businesses, selecting packaging designed to shield green coffee from the elements is absolutely essential to mitigate this risk. By understanding and catering to these factors, both producers and coffee roasters can ensure green coffee beans retain their inherent quality and freshness every step of the way. 

That said, what must businesses consider when investing in hermetic coffee bags?

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What to consider when investing in hermetic coffee bags

When investing in hermetic coffee bags, prioritising material quality is paramount. Hermetic coffee bags crafted from high-quality materials provide green coffee with an effective barrier against environmental threats. Overall, businesses should prioritise options such as multilayer laminates or foil-lined bags. These superior layers offer guaranteed protection against external elements, creating a fortress around the beans that safeguard their integrity. 

Melbourne-based Harry Ko, 2022 Australian Brewers Cup Champion, offers his expert industry guidance on airtight bags for green coffee. He believes packaging with a bean liner, such as a GrainPro (GP) liner, can be helpful if the coffee will not remain raw for extended periods. “Some beans show better results after a couple of months of ageing in a GP bag. I suggest the airtight packaging for [extended] storing or for a small amount that is intended for nano batch roasting.”

Just as crucial is the hermetic bags’ seal integrity. Airtight seals are the frontline defence against air and moisture creeping in. Before purchasing, businesses must inspect these seals carefully to ensure robustness and efficacy. A well-sealed bag not only prolongs the shelf life of green coffee but also ensures it stays in optimal condition. 

Valve technology is another consideration when it comes to the efficacy of hermetic coffee bags. Some bags have built-in one-way degassing valves, which allow carbon dioxide to escape while preventing oxygen from entering. This innovative feature mitigates the risk of staleness. 

An equally important factor is ensuring the durability of the outer material of the coffee bags. Businesses must ensure the material can withstand the transportation and storage process. Hermetic coffee bags not only protect the green beans during storage and transit but also provide extra peace of mind, knowing their quality remains uncompromised from bean to cup.

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Airtight green coffee packaging can increase customer loyalty 

The need for durable, airtight green coffee packaging cannot be overstated. It clearly serves as a guardian of quality and freshness from the moment the beans are harvested until they reach the eager hands of roasters.

Consistency is paramount in the competitive landscape of the coffee industry, and airtight packaging plays a role in maintaining consumer expectations. Hermetic bags act as a shield against the detrimental effects of external elements, which are notorious culprits in the degradation of coffee beans. That said, many coffee roasters are unaware of the role airtight packaging can play in a more sustainable supply chain by minimising the need for additional preservatives and packaging materials.  

More so, by reducing coffee waste and ensuring the longevity of green coffee beans, hermetic bags help support the environmental ethos consumers are craving within the coffee industry. 

“The manufacturing energy, use of plastics, and potential difficulty in some areas to recycle correctly are all worth consideration,” Phil adds. “However, some of this can be mitigated by recycling where possible and protecting the product, meaning less coffee is lost to damage that would then need replacement shipping.”

At MTPak Coffee, we offer a range of green coffee packaging solutions specifically designed to protect your coffee and preserve flavour while reducing your business’s carbon footprint. 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, contact our team

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Esther Gibbs
Esther Gibbs

Esther has been in the specialty coffee industry for 14 years working as a Q Grader, SCA Trainer and ESTA trainer. She’s also offers her services as a coffee consultant through Hope Espresso. Her passion for writing comes from her love of sharing stories about the industry and ensuring knowledge is accessible to all.

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