With so many people naming coffee as their stimulant of choice, it’s no wonder its consumption reached more than 160 million of 60kg bags in the last year alone. With that comes lots of competition and standing apart from the rest can be a challenge. Your coffee packaging should catch your customer’s attention and tell a compelling brand story, all while keeping your coffee of good quality. In this guide, we’ll break down the anatomy of good coffee packaging, share tips on good designs and share some trends to look out for in coffee packaging.
Why good coffee packaging matters
Great packaging design helps you raise brand awareness and lets you stand out from the crowd so you can attract new and retain existing customers.
But the most effective coffee packaging achieves much more than just attracting customers. It should protect your coffee on its journey from the roasting warehouse to your customer’s hand and keep the beans fresh and in good quality as long as possible.
And when these are achieved, then good coffee packaging does its ultimate job: it successfully gives customers a product they love and can rely on. On top of that, you’ll want to achieve these goals in a sustainable and attractive, yet informative way. No pressure!
So let’s have a look at the important considerations and elements in a great coffee packaging design.
Key considerations for coffee packaging
There are a few things to consider before you start designing your coffee packaging. Ask yourself about how the materials of the packaging will protect your coffee and whether you will use eco-friendly materials in your packaging. Only then can you choose the perfect packaging that works best for you.
There are several packaging formats to choose from, and knowing each of them will help you decide which one would work best for your coffee.
Side-fold pouches are bags that crease on the sides so they can be folded flat when empty, and expand when filled up. They are one of the most common packaging types for coffee products. Usually, it comes with a tin tie at the top for keeping your coffee fresh.
Quad-seal bags are quite similar to side-fold pouches. They are generally sealed on all sides, which gives them more pronounced edges and looks more rectangular than their side-fold counterparts.
Just like what the name says, flat-bottom bags have a flat base so they can stand on their own. It’s a great way to display your coffee, especially when it’s competing for attention with other coffee brands in the shops. For resealing, options could vary, most commonly seen are a resealable zipper or a fold with a tin tie.
Also commonly known as a stand-up pouch, this packaging type allows it to stand on its own. While it may sound similar to flat-bottom bags, doypacks tend to have 2-3 sides to the packaging, whereas flat-bottom bags typically have 4-5 sides. With that said, doypacks are more cost-effective to produce than flat-bottom bags, but they are less sturdy and have less room to communicate your brand message on.
Keeping coffee fresh
There are several ways to keep your coffee fresh:
- One-way degassing valves—these valves release carbon dioxide emitted by freshly-roasted coffee while keeping oxygen from going into the packaging. This keeps your coffee in its best quality for longer.
- Modified-atmosphere packaging—this technology actively delays your coffee from going stale. This is done by either plugging in a mix of controlled gases into the coffee packaging to slow down the coffee’s oxidation process or by using certain packaging materials that inhibit certain gases from spoiling the coffee.
- Resealable tops—whether it’s a foldable top with a metal strip or zipper tapes, having resealable packaging is important to keep your coffee fresh for longer.
Designing coffee packaging that leaves a minimal carbon footprint is always a good idea. Lucky for us, we now live in a world where it becomes easier to source sustainable materials—many packaging manufacturers now offer the option to use eco-friendly materials such as recycled plastic and compostable husks for your coffee packaging. Or some brands go down the route of reusable packaging, where customers can bring the bag, tin, or container into the coffee shop to fill up with more fresh coffee.
Once you decide to go down this route, consider how it will affect your design process. Would you choose a different ink type for the compostable packaging? Will you need to redesign some parts because you’re no longer using plastic? These may be additional steps in your design process, but they’re worth it for the positive environmental impact you’re making.
Details on the packaging label
Once you’ve landed on the type of coffee packaging you want, the next thing you want to consider is what to have on your coffee packaging:
Type of roast and flavor profile
Though not essential, it’s very common to include the type of roast on your coffee packaging. Show customers whether they’re buying a batch of light, medium, or dark roast. You could even go further and include information on your coffee’s flavor profile, tasting notes and the recommended way to brew your coffee. It’s up to you how much detail to include on your packaging, but it’s always a great idea to show options for your customers!
Origin of your coffee
Great coffee beans hail from many countries, and chances are, most coffee lovers have their favorite coffee producers. For this reason, it’s a nice touch to include the origin of your coffee beans on the packaging. If you like, you could even go into the details of where and how you source your coffee, which takes us to the next key component of your packaging…
Your brand story
This is an opportunity to connect with your customers and tell your story in an authentic way. To say it in an old-school way: this is your vision and mission. There’s bound to be something interesting about your coffee production—who are the coffee farmers you work with, or where have you traveled to prior to finding those perfect coffee beans? This is also a great place to talk up the sustainable efforts you’re doing to source your coffee, so dig deep!
If you don’t want to print all the details on the packaging itself, another option is to print it on a sleeve. You can keep your brand consistent and even add a pop of color or holiday flair to your coffee packaging.
Tips on designing good coffee packaging
After you know what to include in your packaging, the next step is to actually tackle your design! Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Keep it consistent
If your packaging is part of your wider brand—for example, if you own a coffee shop—you might want to keep your coffee packaging design similar to your overall branding. Think of your coffee packaging as an extension of your coffee shop, so that you can communicate your brand to customers who wouldn’t otherwise visit your cafe.
Utilize color psychology
When customers shop, they get bombarded by lots of information, and yet they only have limited time to get acquainted with your product. Seeing specific colors conjure emotional reactions in them, and what you choose to use in your packaging can influence their buying preferences.
As a general rule of thumb, reds are associated with passion and create a sense of urgency. Yellows inspire optimism but can heighten anxiety, which is why they should be used sparingly. Blues are known to promote a sense of trust and golds represent luxury and a high-end, artisan feel.
In the world of coffee packaging design, there’s no such thing as “don’t judge a book by its cover.” While the taste and quality of your coffee are important, you need your customers to know that too, and they will need to find your coffee to discover that. This is why having an eye-catching design helps.
If you usually have a more subdued approach in designing, think about going the total opposite! Swap out monochromatic hues for loud neon colors, blow up the font size of your product name, and add extra flourishing detail such as sleeves to make your packaging stand out more. Think of it as that proverbial guiding hand that steers your customers to pick up your coffee among other brands in the supermarket aisle.
Trends in coffee packaging design
Engage with and build that all-important trust with your customers, using your story as the driver of your packaging design. It can take you from being just another brand that customers see in the supermarket aisle to the actual coffee they take home and drink.
Pick design elements that represent your brand best and run with it. The design by Wooden Horse above uses an enlarged version of the logo so customers can immediately see the details: a pair of hands giving a cup of coffee. Combined with the brand name “Giving Cup” in large lettering next to it, customers automatically see there’s a compassionate, philanthropic narrative behind the brand.
Here’s another great example by Karen Burstein for Honest Howie’s Coffee. Its use of the founder’s portrait illustration on the packaging immediately conjures up a sense of familiarity and gives a good hint of who the people behind the company are.
When it comes to coffee, freshness and authenticity are usually top of mind for customers. One way to make them see this in your packaging design is by using elements that showcase that organic look and feel.
Think hand-lettering design and images of where the coffee beans are sourced from. The above design by K .art is a great example: its illustration of a woman and picking coffee fruits reinforces where the coffee beans come from and encourage customers to learn more about its plantation and processing method. This is a great example of using a brand story on packaging design to show its authenticity and connect with customers better.
Another simple yet effective way to convey that organic message in branding is by letting the humble brown paper bag do all the talking. maxgraphic’s focus on the sticker label rather than on the entire packaging lets the brown paper packaging remain visible, which in turn conveys the organic feel of the brand.
Featuring illustrations of the coffee plant and the coffee roasting process will evoke that natural and organic look and feel. This great example by Klidesign01 keeps the organic style by pairing illustrations of the coffee plant with organic paper bag packaging.
Strong typographic elements have been the go-to style for coffee packaging for a while now and it remains popular even after all these years.
And it’s no wonder: to catch the attention of new customers, striking designs are your best bet and attractive typography never fails to deliver.
Here’s a great example of beautifully paired lettering for a coffee label design. Multiple font designs in one medium can run the risk of looking chaotic, but Mila Katagarova keeps it consistent by assigning the same font for the brand name, another font for the coffee origin, and a third font for the caption and the type of coffee blend.
Even with a simple monochromatic theme, this cold-brew coffee packaging design by beauhaus stands out with striking lettering. It simply demands for customers to pay attention. Combining two different fonts gives it an extra flair.
The holographic-effect coffee packaging takes to heart the design philosophy of “more is more.” It’s a trend that equally embraces our love for all things the 1990s and helps coffee packaging stand out from the competition.
Designer Ian Wallace set the trend when he designed the beautifully simple holographic coffee packaging for Binh Coffee. He has said it’s inspired by his travel to Vietnam and how each day brings a new experience including sensations, smells and colors. The multiple colors in the holographic packaging reflect that experience.
Daria V.’s design combines tropical, beach-vibe design with holographic effect with confidence. It simultaneously feels welcoming but awakens your senses (or at least, your eyesight), just like the stimulating effect of coffee!
What you can do next
With the global coffee consumption showing no signs of slowing down, one thing’s for sure: demand for attractive coffee packaging design will only continue. Great packaging tells your brand story, protects the quality of your coffee and ultimately convinces customers to buy it. Your perfect coffee packaging should have all the key elements to make it stand out from the others. And if all that sounds like a tall order to you, let a professional designer help you get there.