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  1. #1
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    PACKAGING COFFEE like a Pro: A primer on packing Coffee

    PACKAGING COFFEE like a Pro: A primer on packing Coffee

    This is a guide for those who are starting out in the coffee packaging industry our those who would are looking to expand their coffee operation. Here you will read about the types of machines available, how these sealers compare to one another, and other packaging considerations.

    The information within is no substitute for conversation with a packaging expert who is familiar with all the resources and packaging innovations available, but will serve as a good stepping stone towards making an informed purchasing decision.

    Ever since its discovery, the world has developed an insatiable need for the delicious coffee bean. Nowadays, demand for high quality variants and aromatic coffees has broadened coffee's appeal creating opportunities for countless of coffee entrepreneurs.

    PART I - Identify Your Needs

    Answers to the following these questions are fundamental to identify the types of machines and materials you will need.

    1.- What kind(s) and size(s) of bag(s) will you use?
    2.- Will these bags go to the end user and help -sell- the coffee, or are they going to a venue where packaging has to be functional, not pretty ?
    3.- How much product will go into each bag?
    4.- How much product do you need to package in a given period of time?
    5.- Do you package whole and/or ground beans?
    6.- How will you put the product into the bag?
    7.- Finally, if you are already packaging coffee, how are you doing it?

    The first question relates to the material and size of the bags you use. The second question gives an idea of how important a role product presentation may play in choosing the right machine. Questions three and four have to do with how fast you need to package, while six and seven let us know if your current system is compatible with your desired speeds. We'll get to question five a little later.

    As a rule of thumb, a metalized laminated bag is preferred for packaging coffee. It's strong, looks great, and offers excellent light and barrier protection. Any laminated bag with a Polyethylene (PE) inner layer can be sealed with a heat sealer.

    PART II - The Hardware

    These are the two types of sealers typically used to seal small batches of coffee:

    A Constant Heat Sealer has two solid metal plates with a heating element or thermocouple embedded inside. When electricity runs through the circuit the thermocouples produce heat, which is then transferred to the metal plates. Bag sealing is produced when the two metal plates are pushed together and their combined heat melts the PE inner layer. As long as electricity flows into the circuit, the machine will be hot.

    The Impulse Sealer heats up only the fraction of a second heat is applied to seal a bag. Once the jaws of the sealer, a micro switch engages a timer which sends electric current through a thin sealing element that quickly heats and fuses the bag shut. When time is up, the timer stops the current from flowing thus ending of the process. Sealing time depends on the thickness and type of material sealed, but in general takes only a fraction of a second's worth of heat to make a seal.

    Constant Heat vs. Impulse:

    * Due to the fact that they are always hot, constant heat sealers consume more electricity that an impulse sealer.
    * Impulse Sealers Seal Exactly the same time after time - regardless of operator carefulness (or carelessness); while Constant heat Sealers need attention, as the length of seal time is calculated by the operator.
    * Constant Heat work with Polypropylene, Cellophane and/or laminates (with PE inner walls), but not PE only bags. Impulse sealers will seal all thermoplastic bags, including PE.
    * Constant Heat Sealers make a wide sealing area of -roughly- 1/2 an inch (+/- 14 mm), while Impulse sealers make a 2 - 5 mm wide seal line depending on the sealer.
    * Impulse Sealers regularly need their Teflon and Heating Elements changed , while Constant Heat Sealers seldom need parts.
    * Constant Heat Sealers print a wide patterned texture on the sealing area ( in some models this area can include text, but this will be the subject of a future primer ..ing on general sealing machinery). Impulse sealers, on the other hand, leave a straight line without discernible texture to it.


    PART III - Beans Equal Gas !

    It's called Degassing. Coffee beans release small quantities of great smelling gas into the atmosphere. A sealed bag will expand like a balloon and eventually rupture - spilling the beans, so to speak. Thus, if you are sealing a bag containing coffee beans, make sure it's got a coffee valve. These valves let gasses out of but not into the bag. Ground coffee does not degass. The same cannot be said of a meal of nachos dipped in Black Bean & Chipotle sauce.

    PART IV - Testla-in-a-Bag

    Flexible plastics, such as those used to make bags, tend to easily accumulate electrostatic energy. This causes small or dusty particles to adhere to the walls of the bag. Attempting to seal a bag with product contaminants in the seal area is not an easy proposition if your seal area is limited to a couple millimeters. Most automatic VFFS machines come equipped with devices to help get rid of the static that's on the plastic. For a manual process it's always a good idea to seal as much area as you can, as a way to improve the odds against a particle of product causing a breach. Some clients with messy filling processes actually fold the top of the bag outwards to protect the area from product sticking to it, and fold it back in just before sealing it.

    CONCLUSIONS:

    1. Constant Heat Sealers and Impulse Heat Sealers both work with laminated bags
    2. Impulse Sealers work great for long batches as they seal uniformly regardless of operator attention
    3. Constant Heat Sealers offer a more secure seal as they seal more area
    4. Constant Heat Sealers make a great looking seal, which resembles that of an automatic machine
    5. Impulse Sealers use less electricity
    6. Impulse Sealers can be used to seal Polyethylene bags
    7. Constant Sealers do not use consumables such as Teflon strips or heating elements


    If you are sealing bags of coffee for the purpose of transport, and not necessarily appeal, an impulse sealer with a 5mm wide flat sealing element may be the best choice. For bags that are used to sell the product to the end consumer - where appeal is of great importance- we advice our clients to purchase constant heat sealers, which will securely seal the bags, even those containing ground coffee while creating a great-looking textured pattern, which resembles those made by the automatic bagging systems of large packagers.

    URL edited out of the signature by PinkRose

  2. #2
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    Re: PACKAGING COFFEE like a Pro: A primer on packing Coffee

    Hello Ecarrizo,

    Your message has some interesting points about packaging coffee.

    It looks like you have a bit of a sense of humor. I had to laugh when I read your comment:
    "Ground coffee does not degass. The same cannot be said of a meal of nachos dipped in Black Bean & Chipotle sauce.".

    Rose

  3. #3
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    Re: PACKAGING COFFEE like a Pro: A primer on packing Coffee

    I must show some humor after all this valuable info

  4. #4
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    Re: PACKAGING COFFEE like a Pro: A primer on packing Coffee

    Good article. At the last SCAA show in atlanta i sat in on a lecture from one of the heads at Ambex saying similar things. As my roastery gets larger and larger i'm having to figure out how to best grind the beans for customers who want ground. I'm not yet at the size where i need a HUGE grinder and weigh-fill-and seal machine. But i guess my question is IF i get to that size, where do i find such pieces of equipment?

    Until such time would i be better off getting one of the Bunn grinders? Because right now i only grind when requested on an as-needed basis. But last week i have to grind 4 pounds of french vanilla (which of course i have a separate, older, crapier grinder for).

  5. #5
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    Thumbs up Suji packaging machinery in india

    Your message has some interesting points about packaging coffee.

    but if u need really professional help on packaging coffee try this :

    Coffee Beans Packing Machine
    Coffee Beans Packing Machine from 2.5gms to 1kg and higher weight versions can do 5kg and 10kg also. On a single machine weights upto 200gm can be set and on the next higher model 500gm to 10kg can be done.


  6. #6
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    Thanks! This was very insightful!

  7. #7
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    Ah........
    Thermocouples do not produce heat.
    They sense heat.
    Pretty basic issue.

  8. #8
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    you say that ground coffee beans do not degass.. i have found as we package our ground coffees the bags have been inflating so to speak. I know that roasted beans produce gas for up to 7 days but what would cause our ground beans to inflate?

  9. #9
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    Here's an article that may help answer the question. It appears that roasted beans still degass even after they're ground.

    Coffee Degassing Experiment 3 – Ground vs Whole Bean | Coffee Troupe

    Rose

  10. #10
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    Degassing

    Commercially coffee using extremely high speed roasting will degas almost immediately when ground but traditionally roasted coffee will degas for about 24 hours. In the experiment referenced above I measured the degassing

 

 
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