Today, consumers want to know as many details about the coffee they buy as possible, from variety and roast profile to elevation and processing methods.
However, overwhelming potential customers with information before they’ve even bought the coffee can make the product less appealing, and many specialty coffee roasters now favour a sleeker, more minimalistic approach.
To help, many roasters are now using QR codes on their packaging. A QR code is a square barcode that consumers can scan with their smartphones to learn about products, brands, and more.
Read on to learn more about QR codes and the benefits of including them on packaging for specialty coffee roasters.
What Are QR Codes?
Invented in 1994 by Japanese company Denso Wave, quick response (QR) codes are square barcodes that store information using black and white squares. They were initially used to track vehicles during manufacture, before QR scanners in smartphone cameras propelled them into widespread use.
Today, QR codes are used across almost every industry as a way to direct users to various content, including company websites and social media pages. Many use them as an effective way of enhancing customer experience by providing additional information in a quick, convenient, and accessible way.
Their popularity has grown as smartphones have become more advanced, with data from Global Web Index indicating that twice as many users scanned a QR code in Europe and North America in 2018 than in 2015. During this period, the codes were used for everything, from app downloads and event information to small payments and point collection schemes.
How Can QR Codes Improve Traceability In The Coffee Industry?
Third wave coffee culture focuses on a higher culinary appreciation of coffee and the wider supply chain, which entails traceability.
Improving traceability involves closing the gap between the people who produce the coffee and those who drink it by making the journey from bean to cup easier to follow.
QR codes are an effective way to improve traceability, as they allow consumers to discover more information about the coffee and its provenance in a way that’s convenient and accessible.
The Cerrado Coffee Growers Federation is one organisation that have utilised QR codes to improve traceability to notable success. Green coffee from Cerrado Mineiro in Brazil is provided with QR codes that, when scanned, provides information about the farm and the farmer’s story, the coffee variety, processing method, and lot size. It also includes information for roasters, such as the suggested roast profile.
The QR code is attached to the bags of green coffee, however it can also be added to bags of roasted coffee, where it is more commonly found. This means detailed information is available at every stage of the supply chain.
This is a useful tool for specialty coffee roasters, who may otherwise struggle to include all this information on their packaging without overwhelming consumers.
Lots of text can cause the coffee to lose its appeal and confuse potential customers. Important yet unfamiliar terms involved in producing coffee, such as “anaerobic fermentation” or “carbonic maceration”, are likely to put people off and detract from other more immediately relevant details, like roast date and flavour notes.
With QR codes, roasters can maintain minimalist designs for their coffee bags, while giving customers the chance to learn more about their coffee at a time that suits them.
How Can QR Codes Boost Sales?
Not only can QR codes improve traceability, they can also help specialty roasters market their coffee.
The digital transformation of the coffee industry has led many roasters to seek new and innovative ways of marketing their products. QR codes offer a simple and affordable way of keeping customers engaged with brands and coming back for more.
Starbucks, for instance, uses QR codes to let customers vote on their favourite roasts, discover new products, follow social media accounts, and earn rewards. This has allowed them to gather additional information on their customers and their tastes, as well as providing consumers with an experience beyond drinking coffee.
This marketing method has quickly caught on among the wider specialty coffee community. For instance, roaster Blue Bottle Coffee in California has a QR code that provides customers with tutorials on how to best brew their coffee using everything from an AeroPress to their very own Blue Bottle pour over.
Similarly, 1850 Coffee’s partnership with Thank My Farmer allows customers to find out about where their coffee was grown, processed, exported, and roasted by simply scanning a QR code on the packaging. They can also learn about Farmer Connect projects that support producers and their families in Colombia, where the coffee is grown.
In this context, QR codes allow roasters to interact more closely with their customers, while improving consumer confidence in their product.
A 2019 study by Packaging Insights found that in China, 65% of consumers think scanning QR codes on product packaging instills a blanket of trust, helping further sales and develop a loyal customer base.
QR codes have grown in popularity in the modern coffee sector, allowing roasters to offer a minimalist packaging aesthetic balanced with a high level of information to support and improve traceability.
And while not every consumer is interested in knowing every single detail about their coffee, by including QR codes, specialty coffee roasters can provide a vast range of easily accessible information without overwhelming or confusing their customers.
At MTPak Coffee, we offer roasters the option to include QR codes printed directly onto their sustainable coffee packaging with as much or as little information as they choose. Roasters can select from a range of recyclable, compostable, and biodegradable materials that provide minimalist designs with the inclusion of a scannable QR code for customers.