The evolution of flexible packaging has significantly affected the way many products are processed and packaged. Coffee, tea & powdered beverage mixes have all benefited from the extensive packaging options now available.

The specialty coffee market is one of the markets most influenced by the advancements in packaging. Barrier materials and accessories have created so many options that freshly roasted coffee beans can be enjoyed by

consumers as if they came straight from the roaster. As some may already know, oxygen drastically reduces the shelf life of many products. Coffee is no exception; however, it was difficult for roasters to package coffee in an air-tight environment. The problem was coffee beans that are freshly roasted emit carbon dioxide. If the beans were placed in a hermetically sealed environment, the package had a tendency to burst due to the internal pressure of the excess gases. To solve this problem, a package had to be created that allowed the gas inside the bag to escape without letting outside oxygen in. Thus, the degassing valve was invented. This small device, when applied to a foil bag or pouch, will allow freshly roasted coffee to be packaged immediately after roasting and will keep the product safely away from the degenerative effects of oxygen. This innovation in packaging has proven industry changing and is now being used worldwide.

Stand up pouches have become increasingly popular for packaging loose leaf tea. The new materials that are now available, including rice paper and cotton paper, give tea producers elegant and attractive options. Since tea requires the same barrier qualities as coffee, foil pouches are still a widely used choice. However, clear and window alternatives allow for the texture, size and shape of the tea leaves to be exposed. For some consumers who are tea enthusiasts, these qualities are very important when choosing the right tea. Tea envelopes and over wraps are also a large part of the market. Automatic packaging of sachets and pyramids use various types of roll film. Different materials can be used to achieve the desired look, price structure and barrier qualities.

Powdered beverage mixes such as chai and cocoa are used in countless shops throughout the world. They are also made available to end users in retail stores. The packaging aspect is essential whether the mix is being distributed in 3 lb. bulk bags or 1 oz. single serve packs. Depending on the productís sensitivity to the various elements, different materials can be used. Typically, metallized or foil materials are used due to the powder being susceptible to clumping and moisture. Gusset bags, stand up pouches and flat pouches have all proven to be effective packaging styles for powders so itís mostly personal preference and marketing strategy that governs the type of bag that should be used.