Preventing sensory degradation in hermetic coffee bags

Mounir Afkir
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June 4, 2024

Regardless of where green coffee sits along the supply chain, it’s imperative it remains fresh and well cared for. It is a duty and an expectation that must be met in the competitive landscape of specialty coffee to maintain the quality of green coffee. And yet, without the right packaging, the unique characteristics of your specialty coffee risk fading into obscurity. 

In recent years, hermetic coffee bags have become a true testament to the modern innovation that is always needed for this industry to thrive. Green coffee bags help create the much-needed impenetrable barrier against elements that can degrade the quality of coffee: moisture, oxygen, and light. 

Notably, green coffee can stay fresh (in the proper storage conditions) for about 12 months. This time can be extended even longer with airtight bags or multi-layer packaging. Understanding the importance of hermetic coffee bags can help ensure each brew served is a true testament to the bean’s excellence. 

To learn more about how hermetic packaging for green coffee can help prevent sensory degradation, I spoke to  Javier Gutiérrez Abril from Caribbean Goods, an importer specialising in coffee from Guatemala. 

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The importance of preserving coffee quality

It’s essential to fully understand the distinct packaging steps that coffee goes through along the supply chain. Through Caribbean Goods, Javier seeks to be a force for change, empowering farmers, reshaping markets, and transforming the future of the industry. He explains why it is so important for coffee cherries to be well protected and transported correctly from the start of the journey.  

The first step is packaging the green coffee after harvest. The sole purpose is to get the coffee to the processing stage as fast as possible, so the beans are briefly stored in jute sacks during this step. 

“If some of the cherries have any type of fungus, they contaminate the others, which can affect the flavour,” Javier says. “Once they’re picked, the cherries must be processed as soon as possible to avoid fermentation inside the bag.”

The second step involves packaging the dried coffee for transport to a storage facility, where it rests or is then processed further. During this stage, the coffee is often packaged in the same way as it would be when it is transported to roasters.

The third step is packaging roasted coffee for the end-consumer. This process focuses on creating ideal storage conditions for consumers through the use of custom coffee bags, resealable zippers, and degassing valves. 

Every step along the supply chain exposes the coffee to sunlight, external aromas, and oxygen. Each of these factors may contaminate the coffee or accelerate the aging process. 

“Coffee is like a sponge. Green coffee will absorb any flavours that surround it. Once, I wanted to ship a pallet of cacao in the same container as green coffee, and the guy at the dry mill was furious!” Javier notes. 

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What are the different options for green coffee packaging?

GrainPro bags: These are specialised bags made from multilayered materials designed to protect green coffee from moisture, pests, and oxygen. They provide an airtight barrier to help preserve the coffee’s freshness during transport and storage and are particularly effective in humid climates or when shipping coffee long distances.

Jute bags: Traditional jute bags are still widely used for transporting green coffee beans. They are durable, breathable, and allow for airflow, which can be beneficial for green coffee storage. However, jute bags are not as effective as GrainPro bags in preventing moisture ingress.

Polypropylene (PP) bags: Polypropylene bags are another option for storing and transporting green coffee. They are lightweight, moisture-resistant, and can be sealed to maintain freshness. PP bags are often used for short-term storage or when shipping coffee within regions where moisture control is less critical.

Vacuum-sealed bags: Vacuum-sealed bags create an oxygen-free environment, which helps preserve the quality of green coffee beans. These hermetic coffee bags are often used for specialty or high-grade coffees that require extra protection during transport and storage.

“While I could transport everything in vacuumed sealed bags, it would cost a lot in packaging,” Javier explains. “Vacuum-sealed options are great but tend to be very expensive. For example, vacuum-sealed options tend to be around 25 cents extra per lb.”

Lined Bags: Some green coffee bags are lined with materials such as foil or polyethylene (PE) to provide additional protection against moisture and oxygen. These bags are effective in maintaining the quality of green coffee beans, especially in humid or volatile environments.

When investing in hermetic coffee bags, factors such as climate conditions, shipping duration, and the desired level of protection (moisture control and oxygen barrier) should be considered. Additionally, proper handling and storage practices, such as keeping the bags in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight, are essential for preserving the quality of green coffee.  

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Hermetic coffee bags: How coffee quality influences contract renewals 

The quality of coffee can have a direct impact on whether contracts are renewed, especially in business-to-business (B2B) relationships within the coffee industry. 

Consistency is key

If a coffee supplier consistently delivers high-quality products that meet or exceed the buyer’s expectations, it increases the likelihood of contract renewals. Inconsistent quality or frequent issues with product quality can lead to contract disputes and non-renewals.

Brand reputation

A coffee supplier with a strong reputation for quality is more likely to retain contracts. Buyers value reliability and trustworthiness in their suppliers, especially when it comes to products as essential as coffee. Positive word-of-mouth and testimonials regarding product quality can also influence contract renewals.

Relationship Building

Building strong relationships based on trust and communication is essential for contract renewals. Suppliers who prioritise quality, address customer concerns promptly, and work collaboratively with buyers to ensure satisfaction are more likely to have contracts renewed due to the positive relationship established.

Value for money

Buyers assess the value they receive from their coffee supplier. If they perceive that the quality of the coffee justifies the price they pay, they are more inclined to renew contracts. This is particularly true in competitive markets where buyers have multiple options to choose from.

By understanding the different types of hermetic packaging available and their respective benefits, coffee businesses can make informed decisions to ensure the integrity of their product. 

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. It can also 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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Mounir Afkir
Mounir Afkir

Mounir is a Belgian living in Panama. After saying goodbye to a successful corporate career, he turned his passion and knowledge for nutrition, Chinese medicine, phytotherapy, and writing into his full-time focus. Mounir is also passionate about wine, and even more about speciality coffee and is the proud owner of Mounelli Specialty coffee-bar in Boquete.

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