Blog

New packaging Part II
24 Apr '15

We’ve told you the basics, but we know you probably have more questions. Here are our answers to the most frequently asked questions. If you don’t see the information you’re looking for, drop us a line at info@ justuscoffee.com and we’d be happy to answer your question directly.

Why have you removed the zipper closure?

This zipper has been an annoyance of many customers over the years. Particularly those customers who purchase ground coffee from us. The coffee particles always get stuck in the channel of the zipper and prevent closure.

Additionally, industry knowledge of coffee has improved over the past 8-10 years and we now know that sealing the bag does not preserve freshness. As soon as you open a bag of coffee oxygen enters the bag, reacts with the coffee, and the staling process begins to accelerate.

Lastly, it’s an expensive addition that doesn’t add a lot of value for our customers. 

That’s just as annoying as having my zipper closure not work. How am I supposed to close my bag of coffee then?

For a limited time we will be offering a free “coffee bag clip” to all of our customers from our four Just Us! Coffeehouse locations (Halifax, Dartmouth, Wolfville and Grand Pre). It is brass plated and embossed with our Just Us! logo. After cutting open our bag simply roll down the top and clip it.

Of course not all of you are necessarily close to a Just Us! location. Simply using an alligator-style paper clip or a clothespin is another option.

To be frank though, the bag preserves freshness until the point in which you cut open the bag. As soon as you open the bag, oxygen enters and the staling process is accelerated. Putting your fresh beans in a sealable container like a Mason jar or plastic Tupperware-style container in a cool, dark place will work just as well as rolling down the top of the bag.

Why did you change the names of some of the products?

Firstly, some of the product names referred to a specific country of origin. Many of these countries only harvest coffee once per year. This meant that by the time the next harvest rolled around we were roasting year-old coffee. Tweaking our roast profiles to maintain that fresh taste as the coffee ages is a difficult and time-consuming process and is never 100% effective. Instead, we have decided to just use the freshest coffees that are available throughout the year and blend them to ensure the taste of the product remains the same all year long AND maintains its freshness and clarity of cup. Some examples of product names we changed for this reason are Mexican Morning—now called Tierra Madre—and Guatemalan which is now called Rebel. The flavour profile of these products will remain the same but the country of origin of the coffee will be changing throughout the year depending on what coffees are freshest.

     

Secondly, Espresso Blend suggested to customers that it must be used explicitly for espressos. Over the past five or six years many peoples’ preferences for espresso flavours have changed. Espresso Blend was originally meant to capture a very classic espresso flavour style but as espresso drinkers change we decided to change too. Many of our coffees are acceptable for use as espresso coffee. It simply depends on our customers’ preference so we felt it was time to give up suggesting its use through a name. Espresso Blend is now called Harmony.

Lastly, some of the products had boring names that we wanted to spice up a little bit. Medium Decaf or French Decaf don’t have much of a ring to them so now we call them Pacifismo (means “Peaceful” or “Non-Violence” in the sense of Ghandi’s rebellion movement in India) and Magnanimo (means “Big-Hearted Smile” in Oaxaca, Mexico) decaf. We hope you enjoy learning how to say them!

   

Why did you discontinue Evangeline Blend and Radical Blend?? They were my favourite coffees!

If one of these were your favourite coffees we are genuinely sorry that they will no longer be available. Some of the products simply just weren’t that popular. We had upwards to 30 different coffee types that we were roasting and some of them were such small batches every day that they couldn’t even fill our smallest roaster enough to roast them. They also had very similar flavour profiles to other products that we produce. In customer and employee trials that we conducted in 2013/14 we noticed that two products in particular that were not poplular also could not be distinguished from other coffee products that we are producing. As a result we have discontinued Evangeline Blend and Radical Blend.

If you loved Evangeline Blend, 90% of customers and Just Us! workers surveyed couldn’t distinguish it from Mocha Java in blind tastings so go out on a limb and give it a try!

If you loved Radical Blend, 85% of customers and Just Us! workers surveyed couldn’t distinguish it from French and the other nearly 15% thought it was Italian so give those a try and see if they work for you. If not there are lots of other options to choose from.

What is the number I see printed near the bottom of the bags? Is it a code or something?

Yes. This is the lot code for the bag of coffee that you purchased. This ensures that we can trace every single bag of coffee we produce back to the day it was roasted, the roaster that roasted it, and the lot number of the green coffee that went into it. If you ever have an issue with that bag of coffee simply contact us with that number so that we can understand exactly what may have caused the problem.

Do I still have to throw away each empty bag?

This is another big announcement for us: You no longer have to throw our coffee bags into the garbage IF you can get the empty bags to one of our four Just Us! Coffeehouse locations! These locations (in Halifax, Dartmouth, Wolfville, and Grand Pre) will now have drop off boxes where you can delivery your empty bags and they will be returned to our Roastery in Grand-Pre, Nova Scotia for repurposing.

Unfortunately this still won’t solve the problem for everyone since we sell our coffee across the entire country and our coffeehouses are in Halifax, Dartmouth and Wolfville, Nova Scotia. We are working to expand this return program in time but felt it was important to start something at the very least.

Although these bags will not be technically recycled into their raw components we have found a company that can shred and extrude the composite material into new products that can in turn be shredded and extruded again into new products. In the end, the energy required to shred and exude the material is much less than a full blown recycling process and this process will allow our bags to be reused several times before ultimately landing in the landfill. We understand this still is not an ideal solution but we feel starting somewhere at least gets the ball rolling.

Why can’t you give us a bag that can be recycled or composted or something?

This is a very complicated issue that we have struggled with for years.

As hard as it may be to believe, the current layered packaging technology of polyester, aluminum foil, and low density polyethylene is still the only high-barrier packaging technology available that requires relatively low amounts of energy to create, store, and transport. Believe us we’ve looked! In addition, coffee is a very difficult food product to keep fresh. Once it has been roasted the staling process in nearly impossible to prevent because of the volatility of the compounds that give coffee its flavour and aroma. Providing you with fresh, high-quality coffee for our customers is the only option if we want to continue doing business. The bags that we currently use guarantee that kind of freshness.

There are a lot of new products out there and we’ve looked into them all. Here are some examples:

Biodegradable Packaging

Pros:

  • Break down into carbon, oxygen, and water in the right conditions reducing our use of landfills and eliminating long-lasting plastics from our environment.

Cons:

  • Truly biodegradable plastic often cannot be composted at all composting facilities. They require higher heats and longer composting times which leads many composting facilities to avoid them or ban them from their bio-waste streams so they end up in the landfill anyway.
  • Biodegradable plastic products are nearly always made from genetically modified crops. Just Us! does not support the widespread use of genetically modified crops in agriculture.
  • Biodegradable plastics or paper/wax combinations have a low barrier to oxygen and moisture which means that when we pack your freshly roasted coffee into a bag made of this material it becomes stale very quickly.

Omnidegradable Packaging

Pros:

  • Break down more quickly in landfills taking up less space in the mid-term compared to regular plastics.

Cons:

  • Chemicals are added to the plastics to allow them to break down more quickly in the landfill. We are unsure that these additional chemicals are healthy additions to our waste streams.
  • It’s still plastic and turns into micro plastic once it breaks down.
  • Again, these products have a low barrier to oxygen and moisture which means they won’t keep your coffee fresh.

Canned Coffee

Pros:

  • It’s recyclable and reusable.
  • Provides a high barrier to oxygen and moisture if it is sealed.

Cons:

  • It’s expensive and energy intensive to transport (heavier, less space efficient).
  • Packaging equipment requires a lot of space.
  • Can storage requires enormous amounts of warehouse space.
  • It’s difficult to remove coffee oils from interior when reusing.
  • Tin is made from metals that must be mined and forged in an energy intensive process.

 

What’s up with the new label? Are “Tasting Notes” flavourings you add to your coffee? And what are all the colourful indicator bars located under the product name?

The way consumers and professionals talk about coffee is evolving. There is more to coffee than simply how dark or light the roast. More attention is being paid to these additional attributes as the coffee industry grows and develops. Where and how the coffee was grown, the variety of the coffee bean (think the difference between a Honeycrisp and a Gala apple), weather, processing, storage, transportation, roast profile and blending strategies all lead to particular flavours in the coffee you drink and overall cup character.

Often we don’t drink two different coffees at once so we don’t get the opportunity to compare and contrast their flavour and character. There are very obvious differences if you do so. Our new “tasting notes” describe the flavour of our different coffee products. There are over 1000 compounds that contribute to the flavour of coffee. We aren’t adding spices, fruit, flowers, or flavourings of any type. These are actual flavours that can be distinguished in the coffee if you spend the time trying to notice them. Try it!

The Roast, Acidity, and Body indicator bars are a simple way for us to describe the basic character of each product. Is it roasted light? Medium? Dark?. Is the “brightness” or acidity noticeable or absent? Is the body light and juicy or thick and creamy? These basic characteristics are indicated by how many coloured bars are present. It is meant to be informative not confusing. If you are only interested in how light or dark the coffee is roasted, just check out the roast indicator bars. If you want to know a little more about the coffee then there are now more tools available upon which to base your decision.

What is the crazy symbol I see on a lot of the labels?