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How cold brew pouches help extend shelf life

Cold brew coffee has fast become the preferred caffeinated beverage for 60% of younger consumers. While cold brew has a rich history that can be traced to the 17th century, its popularity today is likely driven by three factors: quality, convenience, and marketing. 

Notably, the global ready-to-drink (RTD) coffee market is expected to reach over $40 billion by 2027. This growth has already seen several innovative packaging solutions enter the market, such as evolved versions of bag-in-box (BiB), recyclable cans, glass bottles, and cold brew pouches.

Available in single-serve sachets, grab-and-go sizes, and larger multi-serve variants, flexible cold brew pouches promise adaptability and shelf stability. 

But how do they extend shelf life and preserve flavour? To learn more, I spoke with Krzysztof Barabosz, Head of Coffee at Hard Beans Coffee Roasters

What are cold brew pouches?

Flexible pouches for cold brew coffee are fast outpacing rigid formats such as glass and cans. In shipping, their efficiency shines, as the space of one glass bottle can accommodate around ten cold brew pouches. 

In essence, cold brew pouches are a form of flexible packaging made using high barrier foils or clear film structures. These pouches can be filled with various liquids and concentrates and boast a spout and cap solution to enable a safe and convenient aseptic package. 

Pouches for cold brew coffee, for instance, are often hermetically sealed and pre-sterilised for hygienic purposes and ease of use. Aseptically packaged goods don’t rely on expensive cold chain logistics and can have a shelf life of up to 12 months. Beyond this, they’re able to provide optimal nutrient retention, flavours, and textures.

Spouted flexible pouches are an ideal packaging solution for products without preservatives. Plus, consumers tend to find the pouch format familiar and comfortable to handle. It’s lightweight and often recognised for convenience, portability, and ease-of-use.

Flexible cold brew pouches can help brands save money on transport and storage costs. As they’re collapsible before and after use, they require very little storage space. Plus, their lightweight nature often results in reduced transport costs. 

How do cold brew pouches help extend shelf life?

When it comes to freshness, cold brew has nowhere to hide. The cold brewing method strips coffee of its acidity and highlights unique flavours and aromas. Therefore, its shelf life is a priority to not only cater to the consumer experience but also avoid unnecessary waste. 

“Cold brew pouches contribute to extending the shelf life through several key mechanisms, explains Krzysztof, who is also the co-founder of the Hard Beans Coffee Technology HUB. “The pouches are designed with materials that create a protective barrier against oxygen, light, and moisture.”

“This sealed packaging ensures that external elements do not degrade the quality of the cold brew over time, maintaining its freshness. Oxygen is a significant factor that can lead to the oxidation of coffee, resulting in changes in flavour and aroma,” he adds. 

“Cold brew pouches minimise the exposure of coffee to oxygen by sealing it in a pouch, creating a low-oxygen environment.”

Light exposure is another factor that can compromise the quality of coffee, causing the breakdown of certain compounds. Flexible pouches for cold brew use specific materials to shield the coffee from light and provide an additional layer of protection. 

While cold brew pouches offer several advantages, such as extending shelf life, it is important to store them in a cool, dry place, far from direct sunlight or heat. 

Krzysztof adds that it is crucial to note that while cold brew coffee pouches extend the shelf life, they are not immune to a finite shelf life. “The actual duration can vary based on factors such as storage conditions. In most cases, cold brew coffee, if not pasteurised, needs to be stored in a fridge. The shelf life duration will also vary depending on the presence of additives or preservatives.”

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Are cold brew pouches sustainable?

Recent research shows the ability to produce sustainable packaging and products is an eco-friendly practice consumers value the most. More so, a 2023 study by Deloitte found that 16% of consumers believe measurable carbon footprint data is a core part of what makes a product or service sustainable. Furthermore, 11% stated they make purchasing decisions based on carbon footprint data availability. 

Flexible cold brew pouches have a reduced carbon footprint of up to 80% when compared to glass. The majority of these pouches are also made from sustainable materials, such as low-density polyethylene (LDPE) and polylactic acid (PLA).

LDPE is a thermoplastic characterised by its properties as a thin, lightweight, and flexible material that can withstand temperatures of up to 80°C. Although it has a lower tensile strength than high-density polyethylene (HDPE), it is more resilient, making it a useful material for packaging items that require flexibility. What also sets LDPE apart from traditional plastics is the ease and affordability with which it can be reused and recycled.

PLA is one of the most highly produced bioplastics in the world, and is found in everything, from textiles to cosmetics. It is toxin-free, which has made it popular in the food and beverage industry

PLA is made from the fermentation of carbohydrates from renewable resources such as maize, cornstarch, and sugarcane. The fermentation produces resin filaments that have similar characteristics to petroleum-based plastic. The filaments can be shaped, molded, and coloured to suit a range of needs. They can also undergo simultaneous extrusion to form a multilayered or shrink-wrapped film.

One of the principal benefits of PLA is that it is significantly more eco-friendly than its petroleum-based counterpart. While the manufacture of conventional plastic is estimated to use as much as 200,000 barrels of oil a day in the US alone, PLA is made from renewable and compostable sources. 

The production of PLA also involves significantly less energy. One study suggests that switching from petroleum-based to corn-based plastics would cut US greenhouse gas emissions by a quarter. 

Cold brew pouches are a strong yet lightweight form of flexible packaging that comes with a lower carbon footprint. This is because fewer greenhouse gas emissions are created and less energy is used during the production of the pouches. 

At Cold Brew Pak, you can trust our secure flexible packaging products to protect your products from fill through final use while providing cost savings and streamlining throughout your supply chain. 

For more information on our custom printed cold brew pouches, reach out to our team. 

About the author

Holly Szakal is a Melbourne-based copy and content writer and is deeply immersed in her city's vibrant specialty coffee culture. She infuses the rich aromas of the specialty coffee scene by delivering compelling narratives on the industry's current events.