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The highs & lows of cold brew coffee packaging: Starting a canning line

Starting an in-house cold brew coffee brand from scratch is no simple task. Brands have to tick several boxes and meet increasingly high consumer expectations. For instance, brands must provide safe, sustainable, and trustworthy products, while delivering on quality and flavour. 

One brand that has recently faced these challenges is Silverskin Coffee Roasters, based in Dublin, Ireland. In 2022, the owner, Brian Kenny, decided he wanted to launch a cold brew coffee range. After 18 months of hard work and unpredictable barriers, the brand is ready to introduce its True Cold Brew range at the Dublin Coffee Festival on 1st March 2024. 

The brand has invested in custom cold brew coffee cans, each with a unique design that highlights the beverage inside. I spoke to Brian about how he went about creating the product itself and designing the look of the brand’s cold brew packaging.

Creating a cold brew coffee line

Brian began Silverskin’s cold brewing journey using a few four litre tanks. However, he quickly realised that this venture would require more equipment to execute successfully. So, round one included installing three 300 litre brew tanks, which was a huge financial investment for the brand. Beyond this, the tanks took up massive amounts of space. 

Cold brew is made using cold water, so each piece of equipment must be cleaned and sterilised using specific chemicals. Notably, brewing coffee hot naturally eliminates many harmful contaminants through its extraction process. Therefore, the temperature at which cold brew coffee is made and stored provides an ideal environment for bacteria growth. 

Brian admits that one of the most difficult parts of brewing is the cleanup. “There are so many pipes to clean,” he laughs. “You have to clean each part and then perform a deep cleaning of the tank,” he explains. “Cleaning is nearly longer than the entire process of brewing.”

For its True Cold Brew, Silverskin Coffee uses a Los Apollos Guatemalan coffee. Brian says roasting and brewing it to create a recipe was “probably the easiest and the most fun part.” He adds that the brand found a recipe fairly quickly, one that gave an “amazing chocolate, vanilla flavour.”

“It just doesn’t really taste like coffee. It’s incredible,” Brian laughs. “When I sample the brew from the tank, you should see the smile on my face. All the stress is just gone because the brew tastes like it should and all the hard work is worth it.” 

Cold brew coffee packaging: Creating a canning line

The next step for Silverskin’s True Cold Brew is the packaging process. The brand has invested in custom cold brew coffee cans, which feature a design by local Irish designer, Dave Rogers. Silverskin’s cold brew cans are striking black and white to stand out while also being consistent with the brand’s other coffee packaging designs.

There are many considerations when labelling cold brew coffee cans. Consumers often expect to see a list of ingredients and nutritional information, which have been determined in a laboratory setting. Additionally, each can for cold brew coffee requires barcodes and best-before dates. 

“It’s all self explanatory until you’re trying to put one on a shelf or in a shop,” Brian cautions. “You know nutritional information has to go on and it has to be legible. There [must be a] barcode and we have to date the bottom of each can.” 

Brian adds the team had to get a laser jet printer to date each can. “Trying to use that has been an experience,” he says. “I have had tattoos from it, and you should see the floor! We had the gun on continuous print and we didn’t know, so it’s just literally gone everywhere!”

The canning line was a separate purchase that Silverskin had to make. It also required a sorter and flipper, and equipment to heat treat the cans to eliminate bacteria. The cold brew cans are also sealed with nitrogen to ensure product freshness. The canning itself, although automated, does require a level of skill. This is because the cans may explode if incorrectly sealed. 

The final piece of equipment that Silverskin is waiting on is the pasteuriser, which will heat up the brew to 60°C for 20 minutes to kill off any bacteria. Without pasteurisation, the brew will have a shelf life of around 2 weeks. However, with pasteurisation, it extends the shelf life of the product to 9 months, opening up the market space for an RTD beverage. 

Brian notes that the tanks, branding, coffee, cans, packaging, and pasteuriser has made this project’s budget “easily over 6 figures.”

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Launching a cold brew coffee

As mentioned, Silverskin Coffee will launch its True Cold Brew at the Dublin Coffee Festival. The goal is to provide cafes with a fast, consistent and delicious cold brew coffee solution for hotter weather.

In the near future, the brand will also launch an Oat Milk Brew and a Nitro-infused brew. From his market research and learning from the work the National Coffee Association in America has done, Brian notes these were the most popular choices in the current market. 

‘We [feel that we] are pioneers of the specialty cold brew revolution,” Brian says. “We hope it sparks conversation and innovation around cold brew, nitro coffee, and RTD drinks within the Irish coffee marketplace.”

While cold brew and RTD coffee are undoubtedly financially lucrative spaces, Brian admits his product extension was born out of passion. “Coffee just gets into your soul, doesn’t it? It’s not about the sales price, it’s about creating something new.”

After launching his True Brew at Dublin Coffee festival, Brian will attend this year’s edition of the Producer Roasters Forum in Guatemala. Notably, Brian has entered into the cold brew championships.

At Cold Brew Pak, we offer sustainable cold brew packaging that is both affordable and fully customisable. We can create bespoke cold brew coffee packaging for your unique collaborations while ensuring the carbon footprint of your business remains low. Cold Brew Pak offers complete cold brew coffee packaging solutions to suit your budget and business needs.

Images courtesy of Silverskin Coffee Roasters

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About the author

Esther has been in the specialty coffee industry for 14 years working as a Q Grader, SCA Trainer and ESTA trainer. She’s also offers her services as a coffee consultant through Hope Espresso. Her passion for writing comes from her love of sharing stories about the industry and ensuring knowledge is accessible to all.