Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world and people enjoy it every single morning as a pick me up for the day. People enjoy a wide range of flavors and styles of coffee that businesses must cater to. Businesses also need to know how to properly ship roasted coffee. Failing to follow good shipping practices will lead to a lower quality product which turns into unhappy consumers.
Shipping roasted coffee is a process that involves preserving the flavor and preventing damage to the coffee during transportation. Since coffee is sensitive to moisture and heat, it’s often best to use a climate-controlled vehicle. The amount of coffee and stage of the consumer cycle will determine the appropriate type of packaging to use.
Our comprehensive guide below provides you with everything you need to know about shipping roasted coffee.
The U.S.’s love of coffee is no secret; in fact, it is the largest consumer of the beverage as a single country. Only the entire European Union — which has 27 members — drinks more coffee than Americans. Yet there are only two places under America’s wing that can even grow the crop: Hawaii and Puerto Rico. But those two areas can’t grow nearly enough to fuel the popular U.S. habit of having a cup (or several) every morning.
So America imports the vast majority (about 2/3 of it) of its roasted or unroasted coffee beans from four countries.
For years, the South American country Colombia was synonymous with Americans who eagerly consumed coffee. Colombia even helped strengthen that link through fictional character Juan Valdez, who portrayed a Colombian coffee farmer advertising 100% Colombian coffee as being superior to blended
Fast forward to 2021 and the U.S. still gets a sizable portion of its imported beans — 21 percent — from Colombia. But it has been surpassed by its neighbor Brazil. America now imports nearly 1/3 of its coffee (30 percent) from South America’s largest country, which is also the world’s largest producer of the aromatic bean.
But if you want coffee from Brazil to sell in the U.S., now is the time to start stocking up. Severe weather conditions have caused a suboptimal yield — which means a shortage is upcoming, with rising prices (expected to double) not far behind. This will not affect only Brazil, but also some of the other places America receives exports from.
Other major sources of coffee beans on the American import scene include Vietnam (11 percent) and Nicaragua (5 percent). What all the biggest coffee-producing countries in the world have in common is they grow near the Earth’s equator in fine soil that is filled with rich and fertile nutrients. There are also fewer pests and diseases to contend with, which is important since coffee beans are just as susceptible to any other crop to be impacted by these factors.So when drinking that next cup of coffee, you can think about how that domestically enjoyed drink will almost always have a distinctly international flavor.
Coffee is not grown in New Jersey itself as a warmer climate is required. However, there are many import companies in New Jersey that take shipments of raw coffee beans. These companies then roast the beans and distribute them to coffee shops, grocery stores, and more.
The process of roasting coffee is what gives it that signature rich and sweet flavor, and it is done in several steps. The beans that have been shipped to the factory are washed and dried, removing the outer hard shells. They are then roasted, cooled, and ground or left whole.
First of all, jute bags of coffee beans are opened and dropped into a hopper to remove debris and dirt. They are then weighed and conveyed into the roasters. Roasters are usually large rotating drums and roast the beans to staggering temperatures between 350 to almost 500°F. The beans can be roasted for a few minutes and anywhere up to 30 minutes for deeper blends and espresso blends.
Roasters run continuously and they can be either direct or indirect fired. Indirect means that the flame does not come into contact with the coffee beans themselves, and vice versa. Once the roast is completed the beans are doused in water to quench and rehydrate them.
Once the roasting process is over beans are left to cool completely and then are put through a process called ‘destoning’. This process is one that will remove things such as stones from the bans, small fragments of metal, and anything that was missed in the screening at the start of the process. It is crucial that this step is performed thoroughly to make for the best possible product at the end. Once destoning is complete, beans are taken to stabilize and any excess water left from the spray earlier is removed.
Once the coffee beans have roasted and cooled, they’re either ground down or left as whole beans. Many coffee shops like to have the whole beans so that they can grind them as is and when needed, and whole beans have a longer shelf life than the ground. However, of course, ground coffee is more convenient for most average customers hence this is a popular method of processing.
When processing coffee beans to produce the best cup of coffee possible, they are tested, and often flavors can be added such as nuts to help advance that depth of flavor. It is easier to add things into ground coffee beans. The amount of water present in the beans after quenching will determine the grade of grinding that can occur, as well as how long the coffee will be in contact with water. This is why when making coffee from freshly ground beans it is important to let the coffee steep to allow the flavor out.
The roasting process can be broken down into steps:
There are several standard ways to package roasted coffee and most of us are familiar with these methods. The first of which is a stand-up pouch that is the most synonymous with what we expect from coffee packaging. It is a cheap option for producers and it is an easy packaging to use and ship without damage. Flat bottom pouches are another type of packaging that is great for use in coffee shops as they can stand on their own on display. Many of these will have a zip seal that makes them easy to keep fresh.
Side-Gusset Bags are a more traditional way to package coffee, and they are known as a side-fold bag. It is a durable material and design and this is a good choice for carrying large volumes of coffee beans. Cans are also a method that can be used, and this is a particularly useful method of the coffee will be transported for a long haul, as it will seal in the air and keep them fresher for longer until they reach the customer.
Once the coffee has been packaged in a bag with a pouch or a can, they need to be wrapped up in an extra layer of support to prepare them for long-distance transit. Protecting the coffee during shipping is the most important part of the process and it is crucial that you invest in good quality boxes and packaging materials to keep the items steady and still.
Some of the factors to consider when packing your coffee in boxes is the box thickness, size, and weight. You will want a box that is thick enough to provide padding to the coffee inside, you’ll want a box that doesn’t allow for gaps, and you also want to avoid a box that is too heavy and may cost you more in shipping.
Coffee falls into the lightweight category for shipping and this means that often you can pack a lot more into a shipping container for the money you pay. Packing your coffee efficiently to ensure maximum capacity is an important detail and why you may need to explore a few options before you land on the best one.
One of the biggest considerations is ensuring your coffee is packed densely. If you only have bags of coffee packed into boxes being shipped together, the risk of damage should be fairly low. There aren’t any sharp objects nearby that have a chance of piercing the box or bag. The biggest possibility is boxes being too light and falling over. Even in this scenario, damage is unlikely to occur to the coffee. However, you still don’t want boxes to fall and arrive damaged to their recipient.
To avoid boxes being too light and falling while in transit, check the weight of each box. If it wouldn’t be stable when stacked on top of other boxes, add more weight if possible.
Once the coffee beans have been placed into secure pouches and then packaged into boxes, it is time to palletize them for shipping across the world. Pallets are a perfect tool to use for shipping because they offer a flat surface and a stable base to pack boxes upon. If you have never tried to palletize anything before it is not too difficult once you get the hang of it, but the key is to be precise and leave no gaps.
When packing a pallet for optimum shipping, it is crucial for you to work out how to create maximum stability on the base. You must arrange your boxes in a certain way to ensure that strong turns or movements don’t topple the whole structure over on the ship or in the freight truck. When constructing your pallet you need to always aim to bring the boxes as close to the edge of the pallet as you can. The reason for this is that it will distribute the weight and the center of gravity to create a stable structure. As well as this, packing items at the edge of the pallet can also help you when you come to secure them later.
When planning your pallet structure make sure that none of the boxes overhang the pallet as these will be much more likely to become damaged during transit. Overhanging boxes can also cause a logistical issue for the people who are shipping items because it will shift the dimensions of the truck or shipping container and as a result it can hinder how many pallets can fit.
It can be hard to get the hang of building the perfect pallet structure, and the best way to think of it is as if you were laying bricks or playing Jenga. Boxes will always be more stable if they are overhanging another two boxes instead of lining up perfectly with one. As you build your structure be sure to rotate boxes and move them so that they cannot simply be pulled over if you were to tug on the top of the structure.
Once the pallets are stacked as securely as possible, the final step can reinforce that stability. Shrink-wrapping the boxes will give the effect of binding them together and further stabilize those valuable containers of beans onto the pallet. It will keep individual boxes in place while also keeping the combined weight of all the boxes on the pallet together, making it that much more difficult for those future coffee roasters to topple.
When shipping any perishable item it is important that two specific metrics are kept in check: temperature and moisture. As you may know, moisture is a breeding ground for bacteria and mold, and the last thing you want is to transport a whole truck full of coffee to your destination only to find mold inside the boxes. This is why when packing and shipping roasted coffee you must consider the moisture content in the air and make sure you avoid it as much as you can. This will involve having sufficient ventilation in the container as well as packaging the coffee in waterproof containers to stop the spread of moisture altogether.
As well as the moisture in the air, coffee is sensitive to heat, and when it reacts with a warm climate it will become stale much quicker and this will lead to a subpar product. When you want to provide your customers with the best quality coffee you need to find a way to keep the boxes cool. This can be with an air con unit, a cooler bag, or in some cases, even dry ice can be used for maximum freshness.
Coffee is one of those products like honey that never seems to go stale. However, there is a time period after purchasing coffee where it will be at peak quality, and ideally, you will want to consume coffee within this time period to benefit from the best coffee taste.
The National Coffee Association states that coffee should always be stored in an opaque and airtight container. The reason why it should be opaque is that if the coffee is exposed to light for a long period of time a chemical reaction called oxidation will take place. Oxidation is a process that occurs in many food products and it can result in the coffee tasting bitter or off. When storing fresh coffee at home it is best to keep it in a cool, dark place such as a pantry or cupboard.
Roasted coffee, as mentioned above, has a long shelf life and you may be able to enjoy your coffee for up to a year after you have bought and opened it for the first time. This does not however mean that the coffee will taste phenomenal for this whole period. Ideally, freshly ground coffee beans should be consumed within 1-2 weeks to keep them fresh. Due to the larger surface area and less processing, whole coffee beans last a little bit longer and can be amazing for around 1 month. You can even freeze coffee for up to 6 months to really maintain that fresh taste for longer.
Cold brew coffee is a product that is created from freshly ground or whole coffee beans and then exported to coffee shops and supermarkets all over the world. Cold brew coffee is stored in glass containers or jars to maintain freshness and of course, this presents an extra challenge when it comes to the shipping process. When preparing cold brew coffee for shipping, you must wrap the glass up tight with protective materials such as biodegradable foam or bubble wrap and pack them tightly in boxes. Using cardboard separators inside of a box is also recommended to reduce direct contact between bottles. When building a pallet structure you can take an extra precautionary measure and use shrink wrap to tightly bind the boxes to the pallet to ensure little to no movement during transit.
When shipping iced coffee products the rules are a little more strict because many products such as iced latte will contain milk. In order to ship this kind of product safely, glass bottles should be carefully wrapped and tightly packed together in their box. Once wrapped up securely and with no space to hit each other during transit, the boxes must be carefully placed onto a pallet and wrapped securely with shrink wrap for maximum damage control.
Additionally, maintaining a cool temperature is crucial to ensure that the coffee product doesn’t spoil. Choosing a shipping and logistics company that’s experienced in moving temperature-sensitive freight is important. Products that need to be kept at a specific temperature are at a much higher risk of damage. Companies need to be aware of what products can ship together as well. For example, you wouldn’t ship something that needs a constant temperature of 32°F with something that needs 63°F; One of the products would end up spoiled.
If you are looking for a company to help you with the coffee shipping process, R+L Global Logistics is the top choice. We provide domestic and international service to a wide range of industries, so if you ship roasted coffee or any goods, we’ve got the expertise to get it done.
If you are looking for a company to help you with the coffee shipping process, R+L Global Logistics is the top choice. We provide domestic and international service to a wide range of industries, so if you’re shipping coffee or any goods, we’ve got the expertise and freight shipping services to get it done. We know the best way to ship coffee in the USA and it is important to us that we provide a service that is of the highest quality. We take our process seriously and use the most up-to-date methods to ensure that every single product shipped with us will reach its destination without damage.
As a full-service 3PL, we can manage all aspects of your coffee supply chain. From the manufacturing line to the warehouse to the final consumer, we take care of your goods, whether it's coffee or green beans transported across the country, throughout the entire process. We’re prepared to handle all of your truckload shipping freight service needs.
If you need any specialized truckload shipping for your coffee. R+L Global Logistics has you covered in that arena as well. Refrigerated shipping may be a necessity for your coffee beans, or maybe it’s expedited shipping when those beans have to get where they’re going just that much faster. No matter the scenario surrounding your freight, we’ve got you covered.
Give us a call at (866) 353-7178 to speak to one of our logistics experts and receive a freight shipping quote.
There are several standard ways to package roasted coffee and most of us are familiar with these methods. The first of which is a stand up pouch that is the most synonymous with what we expect from a coffee packaging. Flat bottom pouches are another type of packaging that is great for use in coffee shops as it can stand on its own on display.
In order to ship this kind of product safely, glass bottles should be carefully wrapped and tightly packed together in their box. Once wrapped up securely and with no space to hit each other during transit, the boxes must be carefully placed onto a pallet and wrapped securely.
The National Coffee Association states that coffee should always be stored in an opaque and airtight container. The reason why it should be opaque is that if the coffee is exposed to light for a long period of time a chemical reaction called oxidation will take place.