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How to safely fill cold brew pouches

The specialty coffee sector thrives on innovation, ingenuity, and creativity – and one beverage that encapsulates all this is cold brew coffee. As a unique brewing method, cold brew helps further the artistry of specialty coffee and makes it more accessible to the public.

By 2025, the value of the global cold brew market is set to exceed $1 billion. This rapid growth has allowed several brands to diversify their offerings to include ready-to-drink (RTD) options, such as flexible cold brew pouches and pre-made cans of nitro coffee.

That said, the popularity of RTD cold brew has given rise to food safety concerns. While there have been very few publicised cases of people becoming ill from drinking poorly prepared cold brew, coffee businesses still need to take as many precautions as possible. This applies to all manufacturers – ranging from large-scale operations to roasters and coffee shops which serve cold brew.

So, how is RTD packaging, such as cold brew pouches, filled to ensure the highest standard of hygiene? To learn more, I spoke to several people who work in the quickly developing industry. 

Understanding cold brew coffees rise to fame

The specialty coffee sector is no stranger to increasing demand for innovation and variety, as consumers want new ways to enjoy one of the world’s most consumed beverages. In light of this, the distinct preparation method and flavour of cold brew coffee has become particularly appealing to the masses.

The cold brewing method boasts an incredibly smooth flavour profile. The cold extraction process reduces the acidity of coffee and highlights the bean’s natural sweetness – something that is incredibly difficult to replicate in other brewing methods. It appeals to consumers looking for a much more mild, less bitter alternative to espresso.

Beyond this, the convenience of cold brew is another driving factor behind why it’s become the preferred choice amongst Gen Z and Millennial consumers. The drink can be prepared in advance and stored in large quantities. 

Research shows that 9 out of 10 consumers are more likely to make a purchase decision based purely on convenience. Therefore, being able to pick up a quick, pre-made cold brew coffee is another major driving factor behind its popularity.

“The energy around cold brew coffee has definitely been coming from the younger consumers,”  Brandon Martin, head brewer at Big Watt Beverage Co. said in an interview with MTPak Coffee. He adds that the ready-to-drink (RTD) beverage is slowly becoming more popular with older generations as it becomes more accessible and familiar.

The safety concerns around cold brew production 

Extraction processes for traditional brewing methods, such as espresso or Chemex, use hot water. This helps to mitigate harmful risks, as the high temperatures kill bacteria and eliminate any unwanted contaminants from the brew. Additionally, hot coffees are unlikely to be stored for any length of time. They’re often consumed shortly after production, which leaves little time for bacteria to grow. 

Essentially, the mildly acidic environment of a resting batch of cold brew coffee is conducive to the growth of different microorganisms, such as bacteria, yeast, and mould. The risk of growth increases significantly if brewing equipment, including containers and filters, is not properly sanitized.

In the absence of adequate safety controls, harmful microorganisms can multiply and create an environment for bacteria known as mycotoxins: toxic compounds produced by fungi. “Mycotoxins are toxic compounds produced by certain types of moulds or fungi that can grow on various crops, including grains, nuts, and coffee beans,” explained Krzysztof Barabosz, who is head of coffee at Hard Beans Coffee Roasters

The main concern is the growth of the following bacteria:

  • Escherichia coli (E. coli) 
  • Enterobacteriaceae (Salmonella),
  • coagulase-positive Staphylococcus aureus (CPS)
  • Listeria monocytogenes (Listeria)

“These toxins pose a significant health risk to humans and animals when ingested, inhaled, or otherwise exposed to them,”said Krzysztof, who was previously the event coordinator at The Speciality Coffee Association (SCA). “It’s worth noting that mycotoxin contamination in coffee is relatively rare and is typically addressed through quality control measures in coffee production and processing,” he adds.

Sam McCallum, a specialty coffee barista working at Kaffeine in London, says that cold brew continues to grow in popularity. “But, as it is a long brew process that can be done in the temperature danger zone, it’s important to keep it as hygienic and safe as possible by using safe and convenient storing methods such as cold brew pouches.”

Cold brew pouches have emerged as a popular, safe, and easy-to-store packaging choice for coffee brands. These flexible pouches are convenient, spouted, and designed to contain cold brew or concentrates. They provide an in-demand RTD (ready-to-drink) cold brew coffee solution for consumers on the go.

Cold brew pouches provide a portable and easy way to enjoy the smooth and refreshing taste of cold brew coffee anytime, anywhere, while mitigating the risk of microbial growth.

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How to safely fill cold brew pouches

With all the concern around cold brew storage safety, coffee brands may be unsure of how to safely fill cold brew pouches.

One of the most effective ways is to ensure all the equipment involved is thoroughly cleaned and sanitized throughout the brewing process. It’s also important to remember that introducing fluids into spouted, stand up pouches can be done using several different mechanisms. 

Traditionally, the contents are pumped through the spout and into the bag. More recent technology seals a fitment to an upper corner of the pouch, leaving a top opening in the flexible pouch through which the fluid is pumped. Then the opening is heat sealed. 

An alternative method is to fill through the pouches through the top opening, after which the fitment is affixed and the entire assembly is sealed shut. 

Regardless of the filling method, ensure to label each pouch with the correct production date and any other relevant information to maintain freshness and adhere to the correct food safety procedures.

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 customisable cold brew pouches, reach out to our team. 

Interested in the subject? Check the article below.

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Why you should use bag-in-box for cold brew 

Bag-in-box is a packaging solution that comprises a strong, high-barrier multilayer bag with a spout, and an outer, rigid container, such as a cardboard box.

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.