Iron Bean Coffee Company Finds a Packaging Solution for Its Unique Coffee

Iron Bean Coffee Company, a unique coffee company out of Toledo, Ohio, is run by husband-and-wife team, Fred and Chanell Dedrick. Their dream to start a coffee company began after finding a cozy coffee spot that made them want to build their own space for people to come, feel welcomed, and enjoy great coffee.

In 2016, Fred left his job as a train master to follow his brewing dreams. Today, the coffee is sold at the Iron Bean Coffee Co. website, as well as a limited selection on Amazon. The Iron Bean Coffee roastery is open to the public, and the team sells its coffee around town from a coffee truck.

A Bean Beginning

When the company started, Fred and Chanell were running the full coffee production in their garage, from roasting to packaging. To package the coffee initially, Fred Dedrick says he purchased generic pre-formed bags and labels, and the team hand-labeled each bag. 

“As we got busier, we knew we couldn’t keep doing this― it was taking too long,” said Dedrick.

As the brand grew and larger orders came in, he knew he needed a better way to package the coffee, as well as better quality bags. 

“Our desire for new bags was two-fold: increase speed of packaging and to look better. The labels looked nice, but we were limited to label shape, and couldn’t fit much art on them. And sometimes the labels didn’t lay flat on the bag. The packaging didn’t look as nice as I wanted them to,” said Dedrick.

He also said he was trying to get the coffee into retailers and knew that custom printed bags were the way to go. So, Dedrick placed a large order for custom coffee bags from a packager overseas and faced a big disappointment when the bags came in.

“Right before ePac, I found a company and we ordered 10,000 bags. The pallet showed up and the bags were half the size. It was really bad customer service, and no care in the finished product,” said Dedrick

They were forced to scrap those bags and move on, but Dedrick luckily found the solution to his problems delivered to him right in the mail. 

“ePac sent me a sample in the mail in a hand-written package. The bags were really nice,” said Dedrick.

So, he gave the ePac team a call and learned more about how the company could fix his packaging problems. A big bonus for the Iron Bean Coffee team was that ePac had recently opened an office in Cleveland, within the same state. The two companies formed a partnership in March 2020. 

Choosing Stand Up Pouches

Today, the 16 SKUs of coffee are packaged in stand up, soft-touch matte, resealable pouches from ePac. The pouches range from black to colorful stripes, and each has artwork and graphics all over the pouch for an all-over impactful design. Customers, both new and old, are taking notice.

“People have been complimenting the new bags! People always liked the art but when we got the new bags, people commented on the soft touch feel and the overall look,” Dedrick said.

Working with ePac allowed the brand to tap into its artistic side, fulfill orders faster, and gave Iron Bean Coffee the shelf presence it needed to further expand the brand name.

“The quality of the bag is amazing. The printing is amazing and the ability to do small runs or large runs with no plate fees is too…. I can get 10 of one bag and 10,000 of another in one run. It’s really good for small businesses,” said Dedrick.

ePac’s digital printing technology allows brands like Iron Bean Coffee to place small orders, or large, run various SKUs, and make quick changes to the design. 

“Digital printing is great―we are able to change the design in an email, and it’s no problem. It’s not a whole process since there are no plates. It’s so flexible,” said Dedrick.

The Value of The Right Coffee Packaging

After the ups and down of his packaging journey, Dedrick says he has learned the importance of the right package. 

“In the beginning I would have said it’s half the battle. Now that we are further into it, I’d say it’s much more than that. I think the first buying decision is all based on packaging,” he said.

In fact, Dedrick shared a story about the importance of packaging that he learned firsthand. 

“We ran out of a particular flavor and had to go back to hand labels since we had a lot left over and needed to fulfil these orders,” he said. “One customer got an old bag and noticed it didn’t look the same as the picture online, so he complained. He sent us a message, disappointed that he didn’t get the bag featured, and wanted a refund―he simply bought it for the packaging.”

Part of securing the right package lies in both the package’s shape and functionality. From the start, Dedrick has been a big proponent of stand-up pouches for his coffee. 

“We have been using stand-up pouches from the beginning,” he said. “They look different, they display nicely. But the major reason for stand-up was the ability to add the zip lock for the customer. Freshness is key!”

ePac also produces rollstock for the brand, which is used for their 2.5 ounce sample packs.

Coffee Flexible Packaging Supplier

For the coffee industry, an airtight package is key to maintaining product freshness. At ePac, we offer various types of coffee packaging with reseal closures, degassing valves, and high-barrier films to keep oxygen and moisture out, while protecting the beans inside. We manufacture side gusset bags and stand-up pouches for whole bean and ground coffee, as well as rollstock for fractional packs, filter packs and stick packs. We can create flexible packaging in a plethora of sizes, plus we offer sustainable options like recyclable and post-consumer recyclable films. 

ePac makes printing custom packaging for coffee affordable, with low minimum orders and design flexibility, while providing quality materials and aesthetics to set your brand apart. Ready to get started on your next coffee project? Call us today for a free quote.

Coffee Packaging: Creating a Quality Coffee Bag for Functionality & Freshness

Whether you take your coffee hot or cold, black or in frappuccino form, nearly everyone can agree that a good cup of joe can brighten their day. And brand owners in the coffee space know this well. 

Knowing the must-haves of a great coffee package, as well as the trends in the industry, will help you create the best coffee package for your brand. Read on for a glimpse into what’s driving growth in the segment, the common packaging and design options available, and why freshness is key.  

Current Coffee Trends

Stand up pouches from our friends at Berres Brothers Coffee Roasters. Click here to read their story.

As the coffee industry continues to see growth, two trends, in particular, are worth highlighting:

  1. While coffee is popular among people of all ages, Technavio reports that millennials make up the key target audience and that they have become increasingly willing to spend more money on coffee beverages, specifically organic coffee. 
  2. Coffee consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the health benefits and environmental impact of the products they buy. That’s why ethically sourced coffee, as well as sustainable coffee packaging, are two growing trends within the segment. In fact, Mintel reported that coffee brands will need to deliver on ethics and the environment – or see their sales drop.

The takeaway: creating a generation-specific marketing strategy, paired with a focus on sustainability, are important drivers when it comes to developing your brand’s packaging. 

Breaking Down Coffee Packaging

Let’s start by looking at the different coffee packaging formats. In today’s retail space, there are several different packaging formats that brands use. These include coffee cans, single-serve capsules or pods, pouches and more traditional bags. 

Coffee bags and pouches, in particular, work particularly well in protecting the coffee from the outside environment (think air, moisture, etc), while prolonging the freshness of the coffee inside. 

If your brand is looking to pouches or bags, then it’s important to note that there are four common pouch styles including the side fold bag, quadro seal bag, doypack, and the box pouch (or flat bottom bag). 

  • Side Fold Bag

Perhaps the most common style is the side fold bag, which is a rectangular-shaped bag that does not stand up on the shelf. The bag is closed by rolling down the top, or folding it, and then using an adhesive strip or tin tie to close. 

  • Quadro Seal Bag

While the quadro seal bag is similar to the side fold bag, it has a big differentiator in that all four corners are sealed. This gives the bag a square shape, and allows it to be equipped with a zipper closure.

  • Box Pouch / Flat Bottom Bag

The box pouch is similar to the quadro seal bag, but with a flat bottom. Because of this, it can stand up on the shelf and can come in various sizes, and reclose options, including a zipper or fold down style. 

  • Stand Up Pouch / Doypack

The stand up pouch, also known as the doypack, is a newer packaging design to the coffee market. Regardless of fill weight, stand up pouches can stand up on the shelf due to the preformed gusset. Stand up pouches also typically come equipped with a resealable zipper for added consumer convenience.

Keeping Coffee Airtight

Regardless of which style you ultimately choose for your coffee pouch package, it’s important to remember that it must be airtight to keep your beans or grounds fresh. Coffee is sensitive to the external environment and should be kept in an airtight package through the entire life of the product. 

The first way to ensure this is through the use of a degassing valve, which lets CO2 out of the bag after the beans are roasted. It’s also a good idea to use high-barrier packaging to retain the coffee’s rich flavors and aromas. High-quality barrier film works to keep oxygen, light, and any odors from seeping into, or out of, the bag. 

Once in the consumer hands, a reseal option further aids in maintaining the coffee’s freshness. A zipper is a great option for pouches since they create a strong closure to keep air out and freshness in, while providing added convenience for the consumer.

The Impact of a Great Coffee Packaging Design

Lastly, consider how design and graphics can help tell your brand story and share relevant information, including sourcing, region, brewing instructions, and more. You may opt for a simple, minimalist design that boasts a clean look, or a highly artistic look that works to tell a story through pictures.

Either way, within the design, consider using special features like QR codes and interactive graphics so the conscientious consumer can learn more about the origin of the coffee, verify authenticity, read up on sustainable and ethical company practices, or connect with your brand online. Many coffee brands are already adopting this practice to let consumers see the full coffee farming and roasting process. Even the coffee giant, Starbucks, is on board with product traceability. Starbucks has created a coffee traceability feature for its mobile app that will eventually allow customers to trace the journey of Starbucks packaged coffees. 

Digital pouch printing allows brands of all sizes to print these special graphics and codes easily and simply, all with photo-quality images each time. With digital printing, brands can also take advantage of using variable data printing (VDP) in which elements such as text, graphics, and images may be changed from one printed piece to the next. 

Partnering with a Coffee Packaging Manufacturer

As you look to create the right coffee pouch for your brand, remember that your packaging is oftentimes the first time a consumer is engaging with your brand. Ensuring your packaging is well-designed and functional is key.

Looking to partner with a trusted coffee packaging manufacturer? Call us today, or request a quote, and we can walk you through creating a quality package for your ground coffee or coffee beans. 

Specialty Coffee Brand Finds Success with Custom Stand-Up Pouch Packaging

The Berres family’s tradition of providing quality coffee began in 1970. Marvin Berres founded Coffee Host Inc., a coffee, soda, and snack vending business serving companies within a 60 mile radius of Watertown, Wisconsin.

The company expanded when the family began roasting its own coffee in 1992 and officially launched as Berres Brothers Coffee. Today, Peter Berres is the sole owner and under his leadership, the company has grown into a national coffee brand. 

How Packaging Helped Grow the Brand 

Prior to working with ePac, Berres Brothers was using traditional coffee bags with a tin tie at the top for reclose. During production, each bag was filled and sealed automatically, but then had to be rolled down by hand. Not only was this a time-consuming process, but the package itself also had its drawbacks. The company was receiving complaint after complaint that the bags were hard to open and oftentimes consumers had to use scissors to cut them open, which then rendered the reclose tie useless. 

Also, at that time, each type of coffee packaging looked the same, no matter the difference in flavor. Each coffee packaging bag featured the same signature Berres Brothers burgundy stripes and coffee pot design and could only be differentiated by the hand-applied sticker labels with flavor and description information. 

Berres Brothers’ packaging prior to working with ePac

“All of the varieties were very uniform. It was hard to see one flavor from the next since they all looked the same,” says Michelle Hake, Vice President of Berres Brothers Coffee.

Berres then ordered a small inventory of updated flexible packaging from a conventional printer. As Hake describes, the bags were more modern but still not drawing attention the way Berres had hoped. Plus, the new bags were still using a sticker label to showcase each variety. Owner Pete Berres knew that the packaging for their roasted coffee needed a design overhaul.

In January 2019, ePac presented a way to help Berres Brothers showcase its many flavors and varieties. With digital printing, Berres learned that there was a different way of affordably ordering packaging that allowed for a broad range of designs. 

“ePac came on the scene at the right time and talked to us all about digital printing. At that time, we asked them, ‘If we want to print 100,000 units, each a different design, can we do that?’ And they said yes. That changed the game for us. ePac made it so much easier to understand what we can do,” says Hake.

Hake quickly discovered that with digital printing, there are no plates and no set-up fees. With ePac, Berres Brothers could enjoy a quick turnaround and low minimum orders, which would allow the brand to print small quantities for each SKU in their line-up. Once Berres Brothers got the new bags, they were up and running in only a matter of weeks, even with 60 different kinds of coffee. 

“The first thing that Pete was excited about was the ability to do short runs and have a fast turnaround. Because we do so many bags, a short lead time is huge for us. Before, it was 12-14 weeks lead time for the bags we were ordering overseas,” says Hake.

The company now sells its different varieties in fully branded, custom 1.5-ounce lay-flat pouches, as well as in 10-ounce and 2-pound stand-up pouches, all from ePac. The fully branded pouches have saved the company time as well as money since the bags are filled and sealed, eliminating the additional labor to roll and close the tin tie. Plus, the new pouches keep the coffee fresher due to the ability to be completely closed, keeping oxygen out. 

The Proof Is in The Pouch

Today, Berres Brothers orders over 60 different coffee bags that include over 40 different pieces of artwork. The artwork (some of which is commissioned by an illustrator) is a big differentiator for the brand that now has designs that range from whimsical to masculine, all to draw consumers in and reach a range of demographics. 

“For coffee, packaging becomes a pretty big distinguisher. When you see brands today, a lot of them have a very similar feel. I’m a big believer that packaging sells it for a customer; it’s something they can connect with, it draws them in,” says Hake.

And customers have connected with the custom, digitally printed stand-up pouches from ePac. But it isn’t just consumer compliments that show the difference; the proof is in the sales. Hake noticed a large contrast in sales between stores that have the newly designed bags to the stores that hadn’t received them yet. One flavor, especially, experienced enormous growth, selling out in stores much sooner than anticipated. 

“What’s really great is the growth we’ve seen. For example, our flavor, Banana Nut was previously packaged in a plain bag with sticker label, and now it’s in a bright yellow bag with happy designs. Sales went up 400% from August to September. It’s been incredible to see one flavor grow so much,” says Hake.

With the new coffee bean packaging, the brand was able to relaunch six varieties as part of a family of flavors joined with the Highlander Grogg, the company’s #1 best selling flavor. The new Grogg family is complete with unique coffee bag designs for each variety that nicely coordinates with the rest of the family. Since the rebranding effort, the new Grogg flavors are experiencing some big growth. 

“It’s exciting to see those flavors start to perform really well. Now, these are some of the top flavors we sell. It’s great to see that our marketing efforts are working from the new packaging,” says Hake.

With digital printing, brands like Berres Brothers are able to create unique designs for each SKU in the line-up. Plus, the technology is great for short runs, seasonal packaging, and personalized campaigns. 

“It gives us the ability to be super creative, and change the look over and over again,” says Hake.

Looking for freedom to create various designs across your packaging line? Call ePac today to learn more about how digital printing can decrease your lead time and increase your sales.