How far can you ship rice paper coffee bags?

Holly Szakal
June 19, 2024
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As the specialty coffee industry continues to grow, the demand for sustainable packaging solutions rises alongside it. Eco-friendly alternatives, such as rice paper coffee bags, have emerged alongside the sustainable packaging industry’s remarkable and rapid growth. These bags meet the expectations of eco-friendly consumers while providing coffee roasters with unique aesthetic features.

That said, some coffee businesses may consider rice paper coffee bags a more ‘niche’ option. Many also wonder how rice paper holds up during transport and over long-term storage. However, understanding the logistical and material-specific factors of these coffee bags can help brands balance sustainability with product quality. 

To learn more, I spoke to Ben Sibley of Assembly Coffee UK. He shares his thoughts on the durability of rice paper in various environmental conditions, its protective qualities, and the potential costs associated with adopting such packaging.

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Shipping rice paper coffee bags: What to consider

Rice paper coffee bags are often an uncommon choice for coffee businesses looking for sustainable, single-use packaging. That said, its popularity is on the rise because of its remarkable barrier capabilities when paired with an aluminium lining. 

Coffee stays freshest when shielded from the elements it fears most, such as oxygen, moisture, and light. Brands must consider these elements when preparing and packaging roast coffee. A stale or spoiled product can wreak havoc on consumer relations and ruin a brand’s overall reputation. 

When rice paper coffee bags are lined with eco-friendly aluminium foil, the lining forms an effective barrier against these elements. Furthermore, it preserves the coffee’s unique and flavourful characteristics and aromas. This protective layer also blocks moisture, which can lead to the growth of hazardous moulds.

Assembly Coffee has stores across London’s most well-coffee-versed boroughs and caters to an entire wholesale market. Ben has worked as a brand manager for over two years and explains the Assembly’s choice to invest in rice paper coffee bags. 

“Coffee is historically interpreted as strict and sometimes quite sterile,” he says. “We were looking for a material that could feel refined and premium but also offered texture, transparency, and a reminder of coffee’s connection to the natural world—that it’s handmade, perishable, and [essentially,] a food product.”

He adds that Assembly partnered with MTPak Coffee to create rice paper coffee bags backed with a food-safe lining. “These bags achieve the structural integrity we desired for both brand and function, but we felt the frayed threads and organic texture perfectly achieved this other aspect we wanted to incorporate.”

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Can you use rice paper coffee bags for overseas clients, subscriptions, or wholesale options?

Brands can and should consider opting for rice paper coffee bags for everything from overseas clients to subscription and wholesale options. Still, brands must take a few key factors into consideration. 

The first factor to consider is quality. The quality of the rice paper bags will determine their barrier properties, which are crucial in protecting coffee during overseas shipping. When shipping products overseas, ensure the bags can withstand varying environmental conditions, including rapid changes in humidity and overall temperature. 

When properly lined and sealed, rice paper coffee bags will offer coffee sufficient protection. That said, brands are advised to conduct thorough testing to ensure their complete durability during transit. 

The same rules should generally apply to subscriptions and wholesale options. The key element is to ensure that the rice paper coffee bags you invest in have been crafted with the utmost care to protect your coffee. 

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Exploring the pros and cons of rice paper coffee bags

Rice paper used for packaging is made from a shrub called Tetrapanax papyrifer, also known as the rice-paper plant. However, it can also include mulberry, hemp, bamboo, or rice straw pulp. Traditionally, rice paper is made by soaking and cleaning a plant’s fibres, bark, and pith in water. The pulp is stretched, pressed, rolled between screens, and cut to size. This creates a non-fibrous sheet of textured, off-white paper. 

However, an affordable, accessible, and mass-produced version of rice paper is created by mechanically processing renewable resources, such as quintan tree bark and bamboo. This is the rice paper used in coffee packaging today.

The majority of the market is made up of eco-conscious consumers who may find rice paper coffee bags perfectly suited to their needs. According to recent data, 78% of consumers consider sustainability to be important. Additionally, around 55% of consumers are willing to pay a premium to support eco-friendly brands. Therefore, rice paper coffee bags should be considered to meet consumers’ sustainability needs. 

Rice paper coffee bags are lightweight, which means they often come with lower shipping costs. Rice paper itself is a well-known biodegradable and compostable material. They also offer a unique, natural look, which effortlessly enhances branding and product appeal, bringing consumers back to the coffee beans’ natural roots. 

“It’s easy to make a box or jar feel premium, and it’s easy to create a packaging system that links to traditional queues of luxury,” says Ben. “In our experience, however, this inhibits the rate of sale in retail. This is the insight we were working on and wanted to make as clear as possible, using the transparency of rice paper and the dimensions of a regular coffee bag to highlight that the product is coffee and not garments, electronics, or cosmetics. The result is that both online and offline, we’ve seen a definite increase in the rate of sales.

That said, one must consider the downsides. As mentioned, rice paper alone has limited protection against certain elements. As durability is a concern, the research phase of finding the right rice paper coffee bags is crucial and can be quite time-consuming. However, you’ve come to the right place, as MTPak Coffee can help you with all your kraft paper and rice paper coffee packaging needs. Whether you’re looking for an all natural solution or high-barrier multilayer options, we can help you design and package any volume of coffee to your exact preferences. 

We also 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, all of which minimise waste and contribute to a circular economy.

Our design team is available to help you create the ideal coffee packaging. Plus, we are able to custom-print coffee bags using innovative digital printing technology, with a quick turnaround and shipping time. We also offer low minimum order quantities (MOQs) to micro-roasters who are looking to remain agile while showcasing brand identity and a commitment to the environment.

Images courtesy of Assembly Coffee

Interested in rice paper coffee bags? Contact our team today

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Holly Szakal
Holly Szakal

Holly Szakal is a Melbourne-based copy and content writer and is deeply immersed in her city's vibrant specialty coffee culture. She infuses the rich aromas of the specialty coffee scene by delivering compelling narratives on the industry's current events.

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