Portable, convenient, and easy to use, drip coffee bags have become increasingly popular in recent years. Not only do they offer a superior alternative to instant coffee, they perfectly cater to the on-the-go lifestyles of modern-day coffee drinkers.
For specialty roasters, drip coffee bags offer an effective way of marketing their brand and reaching new corners of the market, from office workers to outdoor enthusiasts.
To find out more, I spoke with Reborn Coffee‘s Vice President of Marketing and Sales Hannah Goh, and Project Manager Robin Woo.
What Are Drip Coffee Bags?
Drip coffee bags are small pouches of ground coffee with folded paper stands that can be opened out and suspended over cups. Invented by the Japanese in the 1990s, they’re quick, convenient, and easy-to-use, providing a good cup of coffee with minimal mess.
To use, you simply open the pouch and remove the filter bag, tear off its top, and shake it to level the coffee inside. Each handle is then placed over the sides of the cup, and hot water is slowly poured over the grounds.
By using an immersion brewing technique, drip bags allow coffee to slowly diffuse into the surrounding water. The extraction process can be accelerated by stirring or swirling your mug. Once brewed, the filter and wet coffee bed can be discarded.
The concept of drip coffee bags emerged in line with the growth of third wave specialty coffee around the world. As a greater culinary appreciation for coffee developed, consumers increasingly sought high-quality coffee that offered the convenience of instant.
The drip coffee bags are seen as an intersection between the two, allowing consumers to enjoy a high-quality cup of coffee while continuing to cater to their on-the-go lifestyles.
Who Uses Drip Coffee Bags & Why Have They Become Popular?
For the average specialty coffee consumer, brewing a cup of coffee at home typically requires a number of different items, from scales and grinders to pour-over equipment and kettles. However, outside the home it can be impractical to carry around everything needed to brew a good cup of coffee, particularly when the aim is to travel light.
This is a dilemma that Reborn Coffee noticed early on. For years, they’ve offered their own range of single-serve drip coffee bags from a number of different origins, including Guatemala, Brazil, and Ethiopia.
Reborn’s Vice President of Marketing & Sales, Hannah Goh, tells me that the original idea was to create a travel kit for consumers who enjoyed outdoor activities but wanted to continue drinking specialty coffee on-the-go.
“The decision to use drip coffee bags was to find a convenient way to drink specialty coffee while out camping or hiking,” she says. “At Reborn, we really value the outdoors and believe that it shouldn’t stop you enjoying great quality coffee. Rather than taking instant coffee, the idea of drip coffee bags is that you can have specialty coffee on the move, wherever you are.”
Although the idea was to target outdoor enthusiasts, the company has seen growing demand from other corners of the market.
“Sales of our drip coffee bags have really expanded,” Hannah says. “People see it as a convenient option, a way of having a quick coffee in the morning before heading out.”
Robin Woo is Project Manager at Reborn Coffee and tells me that for busy professionals, it’s one of the simplest ways of having specialty coffee.
“Because it’s so efficient and quick, it appeals to people in the workforce,” he says. “You just heat up some water to boiling temperature and, so long as you have a glass or a mug, you can make a cup of coffee that tastes great.”
Indeed, according to market data on consumer purchasing habits in the UK, more than 75% of people consider convenience and quality to be more important than price when buying products. This means that while instant coffee may offer convenience, its inferior quality compared to specialty coffee products puts it at a disadvantage to drip coffee bags.
The trend towards better quality coffee has caused the global drip coffee bag market to inflate considerably over the last few years. A recent report predicts that the US market alone will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.7% to $604 million by 2025.
However, it’s not just convenience and quality that’s driving the market: concerns over the impact of energy drinks on health has led more and more consumers to switch to coffee as their drink of choice. Thanks to their affordability and ease-of-use, drip coffee bags have proved the natural alternative for many.
Why Should Specialty Roasters Offer Them?
Despite the rising popularity of drip coffee bags, not all specialty roasters have added them to their line of offerings. One of the main concerns has been around freshness: some question whether pre-ground coffee kept in a disposable bag will maintain its original, unimpaired qualities.
This is because ground coffee tends to lose its aromatic compounds considerably faster than whole beans, particularly when it’s exposed to external factors such as oxygen, heat, light, or moisture. The worry is that consumers will be put off a brand if they think its coffee is stale or bland.
Robin explains that Reborn’s method of packing coffee into drip coffee bags does away with these concerns by ensuring freshness is preserved right up until the moment it’s consumed.
“We haven’t received any complaints about freshness because we combat the issue by injecting nitrogen gas into the bag just before sealing it,” he says. Known as nitrogen flushing, it replaces all the oxygen present in the bags, providing a “cushion” to protect the coffee during transportation and storage, while preventing it from becoming oxidised.
For Hannah, drip coffee bags are a useful way of introducing consumers to a brand and its range of products. She tells me that it often acts as a stepping stone to other types of specialty coffee. “I actually have a customer that tried drip coffee bags first, then wanted to learn about V60s and different single origin coffees,” she says.
In this way, drip coffee bags could be leveraged as a marketing tool by specialty roasters to access different corners of the market, whether office workers, frequent flyers, or people staying in hotels. They can also be good for providing samples or giving away as part of a gift bag at events.
Nevertheless, Hannah warns that before offering drip coffee bags, roasters should think carefully about their target audience, as they may not be suited to everyone.
“Each company should consider their customer’s needs and target demographic when deciding to release a line of drip bags, as they can change or develop depending on the consumer’s taste,” she says.
Whether looking to promote your main product line or make them the focal point, drip coffee bags are an increasingly popular option for specialty roasters. In addition to being compact and convenient, they offer customers a quick, on-the-go fix without having to carry around lots of coffee-making equipment.
At MTPak Coffee, we can help you create the perfect coffee bag for your brand using sustainable materials and eye-catching design.