In a society driven by convenience, it is no surprise the popularity of the single-serve coffee market has exploded over the past decade.
According to the National Coffee Association of America, the popularity of traditional drip coffee machines has overtaken single-cup brewing systems. This suggests that an increasing number of consumers are looking for the convenience of single-serve machines coupled with high-quality coffee.
As a result, drip coffee bags have become a popular solution. Portable and easy to use, drip coffee bags are small pouches of ground coffee that feature folded paper handles that can be opened and suspended over a cup.
For specialty coffee roasters, drip coffee bags offer an effective way of marketing their brand and reaching new corners of the market.
To find out more about the popularity of drip coffee bags, I spoke with the president of the Malaysia Specialty Coffee Association, Yip Leong Sum.
What are drip coffee bags?
Drip coffee bags have become a popular choice for those seeking high-quality, single-serve coffee.
Essentially, they are small filter bags that open at the top and are filled with ground coffee. They have fold out handles that allow the bag to sit over the top of a cup.
Customers simply have to open the pouch, remove the filter, and tear off the top. Then, they must shake it to level the coffee inside. Each handle is placed over the sides of a cup, and hot water is slowly poured over the grounds, allowing it to drip into the vessel below.
Modern drip coffee bags are similar to those that have been available since the 1970s. However, a key difference lies in how it is brewed.
Teabag-style coffee bags brew by immersion and often produce a full-bodied cup similar to using a French press.
On the other hand, drip coffee bags are a hybrid between immersion and pour over brew methods. They include a bloom phase and require a longer steeping period. This often results in a cup with more clarity, such as those made using a Clever Dripper or Hario Switch.
Another difference between the two is the experience. The teabag-style coffee only needs to be immersed in hot water; whereas drip coffee bags allow for some of the craft and benefits of traditional pour overs without needing to weigh out and grind the beans.
“It all depends on the lifestyle and expectation,” says Leong Sum, who is also the founder of Beans Depot, a specialty coffee roaster in Selangor. “Drip coffee bags are more handcrafted, but require the attention and time of the brewer. With teabag-style coffee, consumers have a hands-free way of making a cup of coffee.”
One concern about ready-to-brew single-serve options is their freshness. As soon as coffee is ground, the volatile aromatic compounds that contribute to the flavour and aroma begin to dissipate and coffee loses its freshness. However, Leong Sum says that her company has found a solution.
“For drip coffee bags, we are able to retain the coffee’s quality with technology such as nitrogen infusion packaging,” she says.
Nitrogen flushing is a process commonly used to preserve freshness in most single-serve coffee products, as well as in whole bean roasted coffee.
Why have drip coffee bags become popular?
Drip coffee bags offer a number of advantages to consumers.
In addition to being a higher quality home brew option than other instant coffees, drip coffee bags do not require expensive equipment such as grinders, brew scales, or smart kettles.
They also lend themselves well to consumers who don’t have the time to learn new brew methods and techniques. By keeping a consistent dose and grind size, it removes some of the steps and ensures the coffee is brewed as the roaster intended.
In this case, drip coffee bags offer a significant improvement over instant coffee, without the need to invest in high-end equipment.
More so, they can be useful for the majority of consumers, particularly when travelling or camping.
For roasters, offering drip coffee bags can be an effective way to expand their customers base. They can be a good way of establishing brand familiarity with new customer groups who may then go on to try more of a roaster’s product range.
Furthermore, they offer a more environmentally friendly solution to many single serve coffee pods, which can often be difficult to recycle.
Is their popularity waning?
The Covid-19 pandemic had a dramatic impact on the coffee industry, prompting many businesses and consumers to reconsider their behaviours.
“Covid-19 has changed the lifestyles of millions of people,” Leong Sum says. “It reduced the number of dine-in customers, however, it increased retail sales on coffee beans and drip coffee bags.”
She explains that these two trends are likely to continue as more consumers realise how convenient and cost-effective drip coffee bags can be compared to visiting cafés on a daily basis.
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.
The trend towards better quality coffee has caused the global drip coffee bag market to inflate considerably over the last few years. A 2021 report predicts the global drip coffee bag market will grow to an estimated $2.8 billion by 2025.
With the popularity of drip coffee bags continuing to grow, roasters may consider producing their own.
Offering unique blends of coffee in convenient drip bags can help roasters access different corners of the market, such as office workers and frequent travellers.
More so, drip coffee bags can also be good for providing samples or giving away as part of a gift bag at events. 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 offer roasters customisable drip coffee bags, whether they are being sold individually or in bulk.
We also have a range of coffee packaging, including recyclable and compostable bags complete with optional degassing valves, zip locks, foil ties, and clear windows.
All packaging can be customised using sustainable water-based inks that are resistant to abrasion, heat, and water. Our inks are not only low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs) but compostable and easy to remove for recycling.