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Which cold brew bags are best for your brand?

Cold brew coffee is evolving at a phenomenal rate. While cans and bottles are still popular for many brands, cold brew bags are becoming the favourite option for both customers and businesses.

With the cold brew market projected to hit over $8 billion USD by 2032, addressing the nuances of consumer demand is vital to keep a coffee brand afloat. Customers don’t just want a tasty beverage; they want a convenient way to drink it. Likewise, businesses have an opportunity to use unique packaging solutions to make their products pop online or in person.

I spoke with Lauren Pfeiffer, Vice President of Brand and Customer Experience for BKON, about the differences between bag types and how cold brew bags offer unique branding opportunities. 

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Cold brew bags: Catering to convenience 

The global ready-to-drink (RTD) industry boasted an impressive CAGR of over 6% between 2023 and 2024. With customers leading increasingly busy and complicated lives, the straightforward appeal of quick drinks naturally follows suit. Cold-brew coffee bags allow customers to enjoy their favourite drink without the effort of measuring, grinding, and steeping coffee beans. Beyond this, customers don’t have to wait nearly 24 hours to enjoy the brew: the only barrier is the snap of a can lid or twist of a bag cap. 

BKON is a highly specialised beverage company that offers cold coffee extraction. The brand recently released its patented brewing technology called RAIN® (Reverse Atmospheric Infusion®). Lauren has been with the company for six years.

“With the ever-growing popularity of cold coffee and consumers’ penchant for personalised beverage choices, coffee concentrates have emerged as a pivotal solution,” she says. “For consumers, this translates into time-saving while enjoying the beverages they love. Cold coffee products have bridged the gap between convenience and quality, meeting the evolving needs of today’s discerning coffee enthusiasts.”

For businesses, cold brew bags offer another type of convenience. They reduce the amount of product replacements needed and even offer saved time on training materials.

“Operators have adapted to these trends by shifting to operationally friendly solutions including smaller pack sizes of cold brew concentrates that are diluted on location, reducing the frequency of product replacement,” Lauren explains. 

“Moreover, the versatility of coffee concentrates used as an ingredient has changed the way coffee-based drinks are prepared. Packaged shelf-stable extractions that deliver quality flavour is used to craft espresso-like beverages with incredible speed and consistency while requiring minimal training.”

Coffee brands that offer bag-in-box options are Wandering Bear and Afficionado Coffee Roasters. Another example of a brand that offers cold brew pouches is Grady’s Cold Brew and its “spouch”, also known as a spouted pouch.

Which cold brew bags are best for your brand?

Should you choose a bag-in-box solution or flexible, spouted pouches? Choosing the most suitable cold brew bags for your brand depends on your target market and the problems you’re trying to solve with your packaging solution. 

None of these cold brew bags are right or wrong – they’re simply better or worse for your business and customer needs. For example, one customer may prefer a bag-in-box solution because they drink cold brew daily and are tired of constantly running low. As such, they enjoy the large volume of bag-in-box as well as the quick dispensary for their busy lifestyle. 

Another customer may prefer small cold brew pouches because they usually drink cold brew on-the-go or during a quick lunch break. Their portable size reduces clutter in their backpack and leaves less mess behind once they’re done. 

Studying the purchasing habits of your current customers – as well as the purchasing habits of your prospects – is key to choosing cold brew bags that will fly off the shelves. When it comes to branding, certain cold brew coffee bags may make more sense for your brand identity than others. 

“Packaging serves as a canvas for brand identity and storytelling, offering an optimal platform to create a memorable brand experience for consumers,” Lauren says. “Eye-catching designs, cohesive branding elements, and compelling messaging can contribute to capturing the attention of target audiences and building brand loyalty.

“Certain packaging such as bottles and pouches lends itself more to branding opportunities. Whereas, large format bag-in-box and foodservice style bottles are more limited in their branding opportunities.”

Your primary distribution channel is also a vital factor. For example, a bag-in-box is well-suited to food service establishments for convenience and storage reasons.

“Bag-in-box packaging is particularly advantageous for foodservice establishments,” Lauren adds. “Their integrated connectivity to dispensing equipment streamlines operations, making them ideal for high-volume settings. Additionally, their designs facilitate inventory stacking, optimising storage space and ensuring easy access for quick use.

“The choice of packaging should align with the intended distribution channels, whether it is retail shelves, food service establishments, or e-commerce platforms. Ensuring compatibility with various channels enhances the products’ reach and visibility, ultimately leading to increased brand exposure and potential sales opportunities.”

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Exploring cold brew bag structures 

Cinnabon recently released its spouted cold brew bag, explicitly designing its product for catering events or holiday gatherings. The product is a strong example of responding to customer demand through compatible packaging design. 

Lauren has considered the unique benefits of different cold brew bag structures and how they can meet – or miss – the needs of customers.

“Spouted bags have their own unique attributes,” she says. “They’re more challenging to stage outside of their case packs, so require the extra step of opening boxes for use.

“However, they are smaller in size, making them well-suited for at-home use and for low-volume venues,” she adds. “Their manual dispensing design makes them a good solution for home refrigerators and on-the-go consumption, such as at events or beach outings. They’re also unique in their design, creating an exciting branding opportunity.”

There is no single detail that goes into choosing a cold brew packaging solution. A harmony between customer and branding needs is what creates a financially sustainable result.

“Ultimately, investing in cold brew coffee packaging requires careful consideration of both branding and marketing objectives, as well as practical considerations related to use fit and economics,” she explains. “By striking the right balance between these factors, businesses can position their cold coffee products for success in a competitive market landscape.”

Your branding shouldn’t come second to food safety compliance and sustainability. At Cold Brew Pak, we offer you the best of all worlds with packaging solutions that are certified food-safe and are made of compostable materials certified by DIN CERTCO. Our diverse portfolio includes bag-in-box, custom cans, BPA-free bottles, pouches, cartons, and subscription boxes to suit your branding and customer needs. 

Reach out to our team for more information. 

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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.