Requirements are changing for coffee roasters
Robbie Roberts had precious little time to enjoy the subtle honey and nectarine notes present in his cup of organic Guatamala Adisque coffee. Market trends were changing and his rapidly growing Joe Van Gogh brand of artisan coffee was drawing attention from some cutting-edge, national retailers. High on this list of noteworthy grocers was Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods Markets, Inc. The buyers at Whole Foods loved Robbie’s product, but selling into this prestigious retailer came with some new requirements. Beginning in October, 2015 this highly regarded organization would require coffee vendors to nitrogen flush and heat seal all retail coffee bags. Their objective is to achieve a “best by” date that exceeded their existing limit of 14 days from date-of-roast. Research revealed that gas flushed and heat sealed bags could achieve a 120-day best by date following the date-of-roast. Gas flush is a process for modified atmosphere packaging (MAP). The MAP process uses a flavorless, inert gas (often nitrogen) to displace the flavor-robbing oxygen that shortens the shelf life of coffee. This gives the retailer the ability to deliver the finest beans available – skillfully blended and roasted – and to offer these premium coffees with greatly extended shelf life. The leading, innovative retailers are demanding more from their coffee suppliers, and the new requirements are not limited to premium quality beans or coffee roasting artistry. It’s all about extending product freshness.
“We had no way to flush and seal our coffee bags with our existing equipment”, lamented Kevin Swenk, Production Manager at Joe Van Gogh Coffee. “Since we were in all of the Whole Foods locations throughout the Southern Region, we needed to be compliant with the new regulations”. The need was immediate, and the search for a solution was on. Swenk and company began their task the way most people do these days, with a search on the internet. They also contacted their trusted bag supplier, Woodinville, Washington-based Pacific Bag, Inc. for some guidance. Pacific Bag came back with a couple of recommendations – one of which was a system from Packaging Aids in San Rafael, California. “Doug Ingram, the Packaging Aids Regional Sales Manager, was extremely responsive to any questions or concerns we had,” notes Swenk. When asked: did PAC Machinery (the master brand for Packaging Aids, Clamco, Vertrod, Rollbag Systems and Converting Technology) take the time to understand your specific requirement? Kevin Swenk responded in one word: “absolutely”. “We were impressed by the superior response and knowledge from PAC Machinery representatives. They explained the benefits of using the PAC Machinery equipment, and they were much more knowledgeable about the machines and applications” added Kevin Swenk.
Swenk learned that PAC Machinery manufactured several nozzle-style vacuum sealers designed specifically for the coffee industry, and depending on the production requirement, the high capacity sealers can be equipped with up to six stainless steel nozzles for increased production efficiency. Of particular interest to the team at Joe Van Gogh was the fact that all Packaging Aids coffee vacuum sealers come equipped with gas flush (for modified atmosphere packaging) as a standard feature. Designed specifically for coffee producers, the gas flush feature makes the Packaging Aids vacuum sealers perfectly adaptable for both whole bean and ground coffee. With extensive due diligence completed, the folks at Joe Van Gogh selected the popular Packaging Aids Coffee Pac Vacuum Sealer.
The Coffee Pac has the ability to vacuum, gas flush (if required), and seal four (4) packages per cycle and is capable of up to 2-4 cycles per minute. This means that Joe Van Gogh can process between 400-800, one-pound bags of coffee per hour, depending upon operator efficiency, seal time required for bag material, and the desired residual oxygen level. The Coffee Pac vacuum sealer uses a high-flow venturi vacuum pump for quiet and powerful operation, plus the venturi allows the coffee particles to pass through without damaging the pump. Designed for maximum uptime, this versatile machine featu res a particle ejection function that clears the vacuum lines of any coffee debris following each vacuum sealing cycle. The Coffee Pac vacuum sealer can flush a bag with nitrogen (as required by Whole Foods Market, Inc.) or any other suitable gas used to preserve coffee freshness. Designed for maximum versatility, the gas flushing sequence can easily be changed from vacuum then gas, to gas then vacuum, or gas only with no vacuum. When asked if he thought the Packaging Aids Coffee Pac vacuum sealer would deliver a measureable return on investment, Kevin Swenk did not equivocate. His answer: “It will”.