Earlier this month, Scholle IPN presented an educational session at NAMA’s Coffee, Tea and Water Show (CTW) in New Orleans. The session, “Flexible Packaging Innovations for Coffee, Tea and Water,” led by Randy Austin (Director of Product Line Management) and Erica Rios (Packaging Applications Engineer) included a “Flexible Packaging 101” overview of Scholle IPN’s development process, and also highlighted trends and solutions for the coffee, tea, and water markets.
“The feedback we received indicated people really appreciated how in depth the presentation was,” says Rios. “We started with the basics, explaining how it begins with resin, how we make the film, to the type of bags and fitments we offer.” Explaining everything from the different qualities and elements of film, to outlining the process of quality control, testing, package filling, and beyond, Austin and Rios aimed to give a comprehensive view of the process through which Scholle IPN guides its customers.
“We emphasized the importance of matching the type of packaging and processing with your expectations for that product,” explained Austin. “So whether you need something fresh that only needs to be in the package for a few hours, or you need something to be shelf-stable and maintain freshness for up to a year, we have to do different things with the package in order to ensure the correct shelf life and consumer experience.”
One of the biggest recent market trends is the growth of the cold brew coffee segment, driven by Millennials’ love of cold coffee. Mintel notes increasing demand for cold brew in food service environments, along with the majority of retail drink purchases coming from non-refrigerated aisles. “Many people who (work) in cold brew coffee are noticing that (shelf-stable forms of cold brew) are being highly requested by consumers,” says Rios.
Shelf-stable packaging means more convenience for consumers. “Whether you want single servings or a multi-serving package, you’re able to bring it easily anywhere you want to go,” says Austin. “You can take a three or five liter box of cold brew coffee to a job site or office and get multiple servings out of the same package. Or you could bring a pouch of coffee in your lunch box, on a hike, or on a trip to the beach. Wherever you go, you can get that flavor experience from the coffee brand that you trust.”
Aseptic processing, one of Scholle IPN’s specialties, is an ideal solution for meeting this demand for shelf-stable, cold brew products, without sacrificing taste or quality. The aseptic process is a method to sterilize the product before putting it into a similarly sterile container, resulting in a safe, ready-to-drink, shelf-stable product.
“Many don’t realize that coffee is a low-acid product,” explains Austin. “From a food safety standpoint, it should either be refrigerated or processed. Microbes can grow in coffee and tea that are just left sitting out, and (this could) make you sick.” Since aseptic requires less heat than other forms of processing (such as hot-fill or retort), “you don’t have to overheat the coffee, and that ensures you’re able to keep the flavor you intended,” says Austin. “This allows you to have that fresh-brewed taste without over-processing the product.”
“We pride ourselves on our aseptic capabilities,” says Austin. In fact, Scholle IPN pioneered aseptic processing and filling, and the award-winning CleanPouch Aseptic is currently the only aseptic, pre-made, spouted pouch on the market.
Since many CTW attendees are in the office coffee services (OCS) market, offering coffee dispensing equipment as well as vending machines, for offices and micro-markets such as convenience stores. “Attendees were very interested in how to get cold brew in that environment,” says Austin. “Vending is one option—a lower-cost option. Self-serve is another option. You can drop by your local coffee shop, grab a bag-in-box to go, and bring that to the office and serve many people with it. Draft is another option—more expensive, but it’s the best tasting. For innovative office environments, you could have cold brew on draft, adding carbonated nitrogen to their coffee so it’s like a Guiness-type cold brew.”
The nitro cold brew coffee trend originally started in kegs and is transitioning to bag-in-box. Scholle IPN is uniquely situated to serve this market because many nitro dispensers currently use our connection systems, such as our 1900 Cap Bag-in-Box Package. Whether they’re a major coffee producer or a small coffee shop, we can supply anything clients may need to produce nitro cold brew products—from specialized connectors, bags with the correct fitment, or even filling equipment to fill those bags.
Also, Scholle IPN’s products power the Key Keg, another great solution to provide cold brew on draft. “With this one-way keg, you don’t have to worry about the traditional pick up, cleaning and return, whether it’s a keg of beer or a keg of coffee,” says Austin, explaining that this product allows keg coffee to go to more places and further distances since no returning or re-servicing is needed. “A lot of coffee shops will package (coffee) in either a bag-in-box or something like a Key Keg and distribute that to offices around their region, almost like a catering option. And end users can just recycle the package when they’re done.
Along with ready-to-drink products, Scholle IPN also offers coffee concentrate options for coffee shops, restaurants and more. Watch the Aspen Beverage success story video.
Rios explains, “When we were explaining to everyone at the beginning, our process and how everything is done, one unique thing about Scholle IPN is that we’re vertically integrated. We start at the very beginning, and guide customers all the way to the end of the product, making sure that each piece of the process has product integrity, and that’s going to help you with the quality of your product.”
Austin adds, “We also have expertise stemming from many years of experience. Our team of engineers and experts, like Erica, who has both the engineering and food science background to really help design great solutions. Our experts can advise customers on how to customize their products and design exactly what they need in the marketplace, and how to best reach their consumer or end-user. And we can do that through both food service or retail environments.”
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