The rapid increase in e-commerce coffee sales means roasters can expect their product to travel further and reach a much wider market.
As an online package is handled at least 20 times before delivery, coffee packaging must have the structural integrity to protect the beans. Furthermore, it must be environmentally friendly: a recent survey by International Post Corporation found that 60% of respondents want parcels to use sustainable packaging.
Most importantly, coffee packaging must be sealed correctly to preserve its freshness and prevent the beans from spilling during transit.
Investing in the right equipment can help ensure roasted coffee arrives at customers in pristine condition. Roasters who package their own coffee should consider using heat sealers, as this can be an effective way to seal packaging on demand.
Read on to discover the benefits of using a heat sealer, and which ones are best suited to your business.
What is heat sealing?
Once roasted coffee is packaged, it must be sealed to preserve its qualities and prevent exposure to oxygen, light, moisture, and heat. Properly sealed coffee lasts longer, tastes better, and can increase customer confidence in a brand.
Some roasters choose to seal their packages using a pocket zipper, tear notch, tin tie or hook and tie zipper. However, the most common method is heat sealing.
Heat sealing was developed to help protect a package’s contents from external elements and possible tampering.
Typically, heat sealers use wires that are triggered when a heat-resistant bar is pressed on the opening of a coffee pouch or bag. When the bar is closed, an electrical current heats up the wires using electric light.
These wires heat up almost instantly and melt the package’s material while the bar presses the two sides together, effectively sealing it. Sealing packages keeps the coffee in a sterile and impenetrable environment until consumption.
Important to realise is the seams in packaging can often be a weak point, allowing oxygen and moisture to enter, effectively spoiling the beans. This means coffee must be sealed without creating pinholes, punctures, or wrinkles in the packaging.
Some heat sealers also vacuum air out of a package before sealing it to prevent oxidation. However, this is less common with polypropylene (PP) or polyethylene (PE) coffee bags, as they are porous and less suited for long-term product storage.
Why heat seal your own coffee bags?
While a roaster can outsource coffee packaging and sealing to a third party, this can cause issues when trying to maintain the product’s integrity.
When a roaster passes this process on, they may not be able to answer customer questions about what the seal looks like or how it works. Also, if any issues occur during the sealing process, roasters cannot determine how many packages have been affected.
Without manufacturer access, roasters may face setbacks when resolving issues. This could lead to a delay in delivery that may result in customer dissatisfaction.
Additionally, the Covid-19 pandemic made a growing number of consumers more critical to whether their packaging is tamper-proof. While customers are still concerned about package sustainability, they are increasingly naming product hygiene and shelf-life as a priority.
Investing in a heat sealer provides roasters with complete control over the process, giving them final sign-off on quality before the coffee is delivered.
Furthermore, if a roaster manually seals their bags, this may give customers peace of mind that their coffee has not been tampered with.
How to select the right heal sealer
Before investing in a heat sealer, roasters must first consider the volume of online orders they receive. This can help them decide which machine is best for their business.
Two main types of heat sealers are available for roasters. Impulse sealers are affordable, while being easy and safe to use.
They heat up almost instantly and only use electricity when sealing a pouch. They are a particularly good choice for sealing thermoplastic materials with a lower melting point.
Direct or constant heat sealers provide heat for as long as the machine is running, making it more effective in sealing thicker materials.
However, they take longer to warm up, and can be costly as they use more electricity. More so, they stay hot for longer periods, making them more dangerous to use.
Another key point is how the size and width of the coffee bags will affect the type of machine needed. In particular, roasters must consider the packaging material and thickness.
For example, packaging materials between one and three millimetres are considered standard, while those between four and eight millimetres are considered heavy to medium.
If space is an issue, roasters can invest in a more affordable portable heat sealer. Despite being small, these machines are relatively powerful, but are limited when it comes to thicker packaging materials.
Another option for roasters is a foot sealer, which uses a pedal to activate the machine, allowing for faster and more accurate sealing. These are a better choice for sealing high volumes, and are more versatile with package sizes and widths.
Selecting the right heat sealer for your business can be a challenge, but understanding the volume of your online sales can help you make the right choice. Additionally, you want a machine that is compatible with your chosen packaging materials.
At MTPak Coffee, we can help you decide on the best resealing option for your coffee bags. We offer quality heat sealers and additional resealable solutions that will keep your specialty coffee protected from external factors and prolong its shelf life.
From heat sealers and loop zippers to tear notches and zip locks, all our resealable features can be integrated into our recyclable, compostable, and biodegradable coffee bags.
Furthermore, our kraft paper, rice paper, LDPE, and PLA pouches are fully sustainable. All our pouch types can be customised to suit your needs, including side gusset bags, flat bottom bags, and quad seal pouches. We also have a range of stock coffee bags and low minimum order quantity (MOQ) options for micro roasters, starting from as little as 500 units.