Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, an increasing number of people are brewing and consuming coffee at home.
To compensate for café closures during global lockdowns, many roasters shifted their focus to online sales. According to a 2020 report by the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA), the number of coffee subscription sales increased by 109%.
While this offers an additional revenue stream for roasters, it also limits their interactions with customers. Therefore, roasters must ensure their packaging conveys the story behind the coffee, and, for those who are relatively new to specialty, steps on how to brew it correctly.
Providing brewing instructions for different methods and suggestions on ratios can not only help educate customers, but guarantee they experience the coffee as the roaster intended.
To learn more about how roasters can use packaging to help customers brew coffee at home, I spoke with the founder of Above Average Coffee, Kieran MacRae.
How did home coffee consumption change during Covid-19?
One of the most significant changes to coffee consumer behaviour is the desire to improve the “at-home” experience.
As the pandemic compelled millions of people to stay home and limit visits to cafés and restaurants, online coffee sales helped fill the gap.
As a result, sales of coffee equipment in the US, including coffee makers and pouring kettles, rose by 11% in 2020. This shows consumers are willing to pay to replicate the café experience at home.
“Brewing coffee at home offers consumers more than just convenience,” says Kieran, who is also a podcaster and digital promoter. “The main advantage for me is that it’s fun. Home brewing coffee is a hobby.”
To cater to online coffee sales and compensate for reduced customer interaction, roasters have had to adapt their packaging and the information they print on it.
For instance, roasters should consider how packaging can enhance the consumer experience by connecting them with the coffee’s origin and guiding them through the brewing process.
What information should be included on coffee packaging?
From the moment the package is received, right through to the preparation of the coffee, roasters must consider ways in which their packaging can add value to each step of the consumer journey.
Whole bean or ground
One of the most essential pieces of information a roaster can include on coffee packaging is whether it is whole bean or ground. In particular, if it is ground, it could determine how the consumer brews it at home.
For bags of whole bean, roasters may include instructions on how to grind the beans at home. Furthermore, they might want to convey which grind sizes work best with common home-brewing equipment, such as a Chemex or French press.
Ground coffee packaging should instruct consumers on the best ways to prepare pour over or filter coffee. For example, it should include the water to coffee ratio, and the recommended brew time.
Put simply, the roast date is the day on which the coffee was roasted. Including this information will help consumers understand the freshness of the coffee and how long to wait before drinking it.
However, the majority of coffee sold in supermarkets or grocery stores will not have a roast date, as it is likely to sit on the shelf for several weeks before being bought and consumed.
Where this is the case, Kieran says consumers can “test” the freshness of their coffee by pouring a small amount of water over the coffee grounds to see if they bloom.
Roasters can also include tips on how consumers can preserve and store their coffee at home. This includes redistributing the coffee into an airtight container and storing it in a cool, dark, and dry environment.
Coffee bags should display whether the coffee is light, medium, or dark roast as this will help consumers determine the best brew method. For example, a medium to dark roast may be better suited to espresso machines and Moka pots.
Roasters can guide them by providing coffee to water ratios, grind size, suggested water temperatures, and brewing times for each roast profile.
Scannable QR code
Adding a QR code to coffee bags will encourage consumers to scan it to find out more about the coffee they are drinking.
A QR code is a square barcode that consumers can scan with their smartphones to learn about products, brands, and more.
A growing number of roasters use them to enhance the customer experience by providing additional information in a quick, convenient, and accessible way.
Roasters can use a QR code to send consumers directly to a digital tasting card that conveys the origin, processing method, and flavour notes of the coffee. Alternatively, it can direct consumers to brewing tutorial videos.
What advice can roasters give consumers about home brewing?
While online coffee sales may limit a roaster’s interaction with consumers, there are ways to work around this.
For example, providing a physical FAQ or brewing tips card with coffee purchased online can help roasters guide consumers through the process of home brewing.
Furthermore, it can provide consumers with advice on equipment they may need. For instance, roasters may suggest investing in scales to help them find the ideal coffee ratio for their chosen brewing method.
Additionally, roasters can advise consumers on why filtered water is best for coffee. As tap water differs around the world, it can taste different according to the minerals and additives present.
It is important that consumers understand that unfiltered water may negatively impact extraction, and could alter the coffee’s taste.
Most importantly, roasters should understand that home brewing can help consumers deepen their appreciation for specialty coffee. This may encourage customer retention and repeat sales, whether they be online or in-person.
“Making great coffee at home can be difficult,” Kieran says. “Encourage your consumers to take the time to learn and practice. They should enjoy the process.”
At MTPak Coffee, we can help you create and customise the perfect packaging for online coffee sales and subscription service, from design and materials to inks and degassing valves.
With our range of biodegradable, recyclable, and compostable materials, you can offer a fully sustainable product to customers. We also offer low MOQ stock bags, which help roasters stay agile and keep down costs.
Additionally, we can help you create and customise informative tasting cards for each coffee, using sturdy materials and attractive colour schemes. These are sustainable with water-based inks that are suitable for recycling.