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Great Coffee Need Not Cost the Earth

Posted by Simon Bower on

We have had quite a few enquiries about how our tea and coffee is packed, and it got us thinking,

Before I discuss the options it is important to think for a moment or two about what exactly packaging is meant to do.  Some of it is essential - like holding the product together - whilst others are more for the aesthetics and making the product look appealing.  

So what does tea and coffee packaging do?

1)  Holds the product together so we can send it to you (MUST HAVE)

2) Stops contamination - this can wither be for a short time like the time it takes to be delivered by the post office - or a long time if you keep the product in its original packaging.  (MUST HAVE)

3) Provides statutory information such as the weight, type and best before date of the coffee. (MUST HAVE)

4) Provides a moisture and air barrier.  Tea is susceptible to water damage and coffee goes stale because it oxidises in the air. (NICE TO HAVE)

5) Makes it look pretty! _ the Marketing department think this is great BUT do you really buy fresh coffee beans or loose leaf tea to look at the bag? (NOT REALLY NEEDED)


For years the industry has used a metal/plastic laminate to make bags and these really do work at keeping products fresh for storage and sale on supermarket shelves in prepacked packets. But we don't sell coffee like that.  All of our beans are packed the day they come out of the roaster and sent to you within 24 hours.

The packaging industry has long been working on compostable and recyclable products but really, despite their claims, so few councils can treat refuse in this way they are just put into land fill.  Plus the bags are not as strong as the usual bags nor as airtight so it was sort of an uncomfortable compromise that didn't really have the desired effect.  In our opinion it is greenwashing - trying to look environmentally friendly rather than practical.

Having spent many months taking the time to actually learn about and understand the relative pros and cons to each method we had a Eureka moment. Our bricks and mortar shop in Sheffield we has been using paper bags for the last 140 years without a problem so we started doing some experiments.  We have avoided using paper bags in the past because they have three main issues - they are a little bit ugly, they aren't very strong and they don't provide an air barrier so they don't provide a suitable container for more than a few days.  And indeed most Eco friendly paper bags we tried were just not up to the demands of the British postal system and we ended up having many damaged parcels.

However, as you have probably guessed from the title of this post and the picture with it we think we have found some paper bags that are robust enough to withstand the traumas of the Royal Mail, that will fulfil most of the requirements of packaging, are food safe and even made from unbleached (brown) paper. Better still they are from a sustainable wood source and EVERY council in the country will recyle paper.  Sounds great doesn't it!

So, If you want to be environmentally considerate, don't mind a crumpled paper bag with some handwriting a doctor would be proud of on it and you take the beans or tea and put it in a suitable container as soon as its received, we are happy to offer you the chance to buy our delicious products in them.  Just let us know if you want to try the eco bags by selecting GoGreen when your place your order.

One last thing, we are searching for a paper bag that is strong enough to protect the paper bags in the post.  We haven't found one, so until we do we will still send the coffees in padded envelopes which have a layer of bubble wrap in.  We know this isn't idea but just a suggestion, open the envelope carefully and it is perfectly reusable.