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What are cold brew bags?

Cold brew is quickly becoming associated with not just mellow flavour and smooth texture but also convenience. Innovations such as cold brew bags offer customers the option to enjoy their favourite drink faster without sacrificing quality.

Similar coffee niches are also addressing customers’ needs for quick and easy recipes, such as the growing ready-to-drink (RTD) coffee market and steeped coffee bags. Cold brew bags, alongside RTD cans, are an in-demand option that more coffee brands are adding to their roster. 

Overlooking the power of convenient and accessible cold brew coffee options can leave money on the table and customers moving elsewhere. Therefore, it’s vital for brands to know how these bags work in order to craft and market them effectively. 

I spoke to Joey Ruiz, the co-founder of ALTO Cold Brew, to learn more about how cold brew bags work and why customers love them so much. 

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What are cold brew bags? 

The term “cold brew bags” can cause confusion, as they’re also referred to as pre-filled bags or pre-filled packets. Essentially, cold brew bags provide ground coffee in a tea-like bag that is ideal for steeping. 

“Our cold brew bags are filters that we fill and seal with 3 oz of coffee,” explains Joey, adding that ALTO recently launched custom pre-filled packets for cafes and restaurants. “[Cold brew bags] are becoming popular because [they’re] an easy and convenient way to make cold brew at home or on the go.” These products are similar to a traditional tea bag or steeped coffee. Therefore, customers don’t have to go through the process of grinding or measuring to make cold brew coffee. 

Joey explains the process at ALTO Cold Brew: “Shops will send us their coffee, which we then weigh, fill, and seal into the cold brew bags. Then, the bags are sent back to the shop to be sold to customers. All the customer has to do is add water to the bag and let it steep for 12 hours,” he adds. “After that, they have delicious cold brew coffee for up to a week.”

Several specialty coffee brands, including Partners Coffee Roasters and Ascend Coffee Roasters, offer pre-filled packets for cold brew. Chamberlain Coffee provides customers with handy single-serve options. These offerings sometimes come with simple instruction guides for brewing or fun recipe ideas centred on convenience, such as steeping cold brew in a thermos. Coffee brands that directly target customer pain points, such as busy lifestyles or a desire to recreate the cafe experience, will see the most success in selling these cold brew packets.

What are the benefits of offering cold brew coffee bags? 

Cold-brew coffee bags instantly eliminate common frustrations when creating cold brew from scratch. They are exceptionally beginner-friendly for those unfamiliar with the grind level or steeping time needed for cold brew, offering a pre-ground amount with easy-to-follow instructions.

Beyond this, cold brew bags also appeal to experienced coffee brewers who are short on time. They offer convenience for those who don’t want to go through the process of measuring, grinding, bagging, and steeping coffee. These benefits are precisely what Joey considered before offering ALTO’s pre-filled packets.

“[Cold brew bags] take the guesswork out of how to make great cold brew,” he says. “The bag is pre-filled with the exact amount of coffee and the blend the shop recommends.”

Last, cold brew bags allow customers to recreate the cafe experience at home. In an age of remote work and an increase in homebrewing, more people wonder how they can get the same flavour and style of their favourite cafe without the trip. “The business benefits of offering cold brew bags are that they provide customers with an easy way to make cold brew that [tastes exactly as it would] at the shop, but in the convenience of their home,” Joey adds. 

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Packaging cold brew coffee bags for distribution 

Packaging cold brew coffee bags will not share the same risks of contamination as cold brew cans or bag-in-box options because of their relative simplicity and shelf stability. The bags are similar to tea bags and steeped coffee, which are often made from various synthetic fibres or biodegradable filter paper. 

A unique selling point (USP) for cold brew bags is their ability to retain the coffee’s flavour, aroma, and mouthfeel. They are sometimes dosed with nitrogen to increase the product’s shelf life and preserve freshness – a process that is popular with not only coffee but also juices and teas. “Cold brew is becoming one of the most popular coffee drinks in shops,” Joey says. “Providing cold brew bags allows your customers to make it at home whenever they want without losing quality.”

Notably, packaging cold brew coffee does have its challenges. Alongside consistent marketing to raise awareness of this relatively new offering, there’s also the matter of meeting ballooning demand. The cold brew sector in the US alone is expected to hit $944 million by 2025, which means more customers are going to bring their unique needs to the table.

“The challenge of manufacturing and packaging is finding the right machinery to keep up with the demand,” Joey adds. Luckily, this last year, we were able to scale up our machinery to do so.”

Choosing eco-friendly and certified cold brew packaging is an essential step for brands aiming to expand their offerings. As cold brew bags aren’t quite as well-known as cans or flexible pouches, gaps in customer knowledge need to be filled by transparent marketing campaigns that explain what they’re made of and why. 

Choosing compatible packaging for your coffee business starts with what you want to offer. At Cold Brew Pak, we are dedicated to providing coffee brands with diverse packaging solutions, including bag-in-box, subscription boxes, aluminium cans, paper cartons, and flexible pouches. 

More importantly, our eco-friendly packaging is compostable and recyclable. Our products are certified by DIN CERTCO and comply with up-to-date food hygiene guidelines. 

Images provided courtesy of ALTO Cold Brew.

For more information on cold brew packaging solutions, contact our team

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About the author

Ashe is a business writer, marketer, and designer in the coffee, tea, and alcohol niches. She worked as a staff writer for DrinkStack and has been regularly featured in coffee publications such as New Ground Magazine and Fresh Cup Magazine. A committed advocate for sustainability and wellness, she approaches the coffee industry with a critical and passionate perspective.