Green Coffee Storage Using Ecotact Hermetic Bags

Ecotact Zip Bags are a great way to protect your green coffee quality

We ship our green coffee in basic zip bags, which are fine to protect green coffee, especially if you will be roasting it within a few weeks. But what about longer term storage? And what about storing coffee in places where humidity and temperatures change a lot … is that okay for green coffee?

Green beans are a dried seed. They are made to be stored until ready to roast. But in recent years our understanding about preserving the high cup quality of top shelf green coffee has really changed.

Ecotact Green Coffee Storage
Ecotact Green Coffee Storage 3 pouch sizes

What we have found is that the potential cup quality that the green coffee bean possess can be degraded by environmental changes, especially in moisture levels. If you think of green coffee as a dried sponge, it’s going to absorb moisture when exposed to a humid environment, and lose moisture in an arid environment. It itself, green coffee is dried to around 10% to 11% internal moisture level. If that is maintained, the water in the bean remains bonded, and the coffee is in an optimal state of equilibrium.

A barrier package around green coffee in this state helps to lock in the bonded humidity in the coffee, preventing it to equalize with the ambient climate. Without the barrier, the coffee bean moisture level shifts, and the corresponding rise in water activity (aw) will result in loss of coffee quality.

Ecotact Material Barrier - green coffee protection
Ecotact Material Barrier – green coffee protection

It’s also important to store green coffee in a temperature-stable environment too, and away from direct sunlight. Good storage conditions in combination with an effective barrier will preserve coffee cup quality much longer. You might also already have good barrier packaging, especially if you have glass jars that fit the amount of green coffee you need to store (minimizing air in the jar) or a vacuum sealer with high barrier bags. But note standard storage bags do not have the barrier properties to prevent exchange with the ambient environment. That’s why the nine-layered Ecotact material is different.

We have the Ecotact bags in 1, 2 and 5 Kgs at Sweet Maria’s now, as an add-on item.

Here’s my short 2 minute version explaining the basics of green coffee storage and Ecotact bags:

2 minutes on Green Coffee Storage and Ecotact

Here is a somewhat longer video I made explaining why I think these special barrier bags are such a good thing:

The Ecotact Troiseal Barrier Bag for 20+ Lbs of Green Coffee

Note: If you order 20 Lbs and do not want the order shipped in the Troiseal bag, please email us at [email protected] right away and we can send it in our woven poly bag (with an inner liner zip bag).

Ecotact found that the larger size targeted for the Troiseal made a zip-lock closure unworkable. It’s too wide and the weight of coffee will compromise it in handling and shipping. So the solution was an adhesive seal … well, not one but 3. This allows a resealing of the bag 2x in addition to the one we make when shipping it to you (or 3x of course if you buy the unfilled new bag from us).

In fact, I have found the ample amount of spare material in this bag allows for it also to be rolled and clipped shut too, giving it extended usefulness beyond 3 times. it also makes sense to me that a home roaster with many small “odds and ends” bags of green coffee could fit their whole stash in a Troiseal. In one step, and for a couple bucks, they could enhance the quality of their green coffee storage.

Ecotact Troiseal Reusable Green Coffee Storage Bag
Troiseal is a 9 layer barrier package to prevent green coffee from gaining or losing moisture with the ambient environment.

Plastics Plastics Plastics: We want to minimize our usage, but ….

We had to think long and hard about adding new plastics to our total usage. It’s something we are actively trying to minimize. But offering something reusable, that enhances and extends the quality of the product we ship, felt to us like it justifies using the Troiseal green coffee bag.

We value your thoughts on this – please comment below if you have some input! -Tom

Here is the link again to purchase the Ecotact bags in 1, 2 and 5 Kgs at Sweet Maria’s now, as an add-on item.

25 Responses

  1. Considering how many times I reuse any plastic, I would like to see you package in the most optimal way for the coffee. If the coffee’s compromised, were not getting good value for our $ and whatever you can do to ensure it’s quality is worth it to me. Maybe you could offer some guidelines for how to handle bags that have been reused so many times they’re no longer useful.

    1. This is a great comment – glad to hear you reuse our standard bags. Those are actually recyclable plastic class “4” LDPE, Low Density Poly Ethelene … but not recyclable in most curbside pickup recycle bins. I know mine does not allow any plastic bags. But they can be recycled at most supermarkets that accept used plastic bags. They can go right in with typical plastic shopping bags. Most drop off recycles and many other retailers also have bins to accept #4 recyclable plastic too.

  2. It’s still a plastic bag that is eventually disposed of. I like your suggestion of using glass jars, though. If they are kept filled tightly to the brim, wouldn’t that be an equally good solution?

  3. How the heck do we buy these??? You tell us all about how great they are and then… leave us!
    I’d like to have several of these for the small orders I get… I don’t roast all my beans right away…sometimes a month later. Lets have the link to purchase! 🙂

    1. Hi Chad – yes we were trying to coordinate this but, well we are uncoordinated. It’s a chicken-egg thing. I want to produce the information ahead of time, but then Ryan needs to get the product ready to add to the cart. Anyway ….They will be before Wednesday next week. Sorry!

  4. Interesting article.

    Since it was stated above that –

    “a barrier package around green coffee in this state helps to lock in the bonded humidity in the coffee, preventing it to equalize with the ambient climate. Without the barrier, the coffee bean moisture level shifts, and the corresponding rise in water activity (aw) will result in loss of coffee quality.”

    – will Sweet Maria’s continue to puncture its green coffees’ basic zip bags (as described here https://library.sweetmarias.com/holey-bags-batman/)?

    Also, the SM Punctured Bag article states –

    “This allows the coffee to breathe during shipping and in your green coffee storage area….Air circulation is important”

    Is airtight/barrier protection (e.g. Ecotact Zip Bags) now the recommended storage solution for greens?

    Thank you.

    1. Yes – you are correct! Thanks for your comment and pointing this out. We have a lot of dated information on coffee storage, redundant articles from 20 yrs of thinking and some of it is informed by coffee industry approaches from days gone by. I have been trying to track it down and correct our old info but missed that article.
      Indeed, the LDPE zip bags are really not for long term storage because of the material and the holes don’t help! They are there to remove air space in the bag because we found an air pocket can make the zip seal pop open in transit. But the LDPE bag is not for “archiving” a coffee for later use, especially for people who live in zones with more ambient humidity ranges. The real solution to keep coffee at its best is high barrier containers (like glass) or bags. In the perfect world we could find a recyclable solution, and we would use that to ship coffee to you, but that doesn’t exist. And sadly the Ecotact are not cheap – it would add $1 cost at least to each bag if we shipped in Ecotact.

      Side note : another aspect we have never mentioned is the way we fill our coffee. Nearly all coffee is filled weekly, meaning it is transferred from the barrier lined jute bag to the LDPE zip bag in a range of roughly 2-10 days at most. We don’t fill huge volumes in advance. I mention this because some early sources of green coffee would job out the packaging of huge amounts of green coffee, say 6 months worth, that would remain in low density plastic for a long time. Our course, in that era all the coffee was handled in unlined jute, so perhaps that was better (?) Our approach has changed so much since we started in ’97-98!

  5. I have several Burundi bags from various sources, and could imagine keeping them together in one big bag. Thoughts about the effect of leaving beans in the bags you ship in, but then keeping a number of those bags together in, say, one of the 20# Ecotacts? Cross-contamination of flavors? Relative humidity of each bag would equalize with others w/in the big bag? 🤔

    1. Yes I think that’s a great idea, to quickly and easily add protection to your coffee supply. I did the same with mine at home. I used the 5 Kg zip bag because I had about 4 different small bags totaling only about 6 pounds of coffee. I don’t think you need to worry about contamination of some kind between them. I do suppose technically the moisture levels could equalize within a bag, but all green coffee should be nearly the same level. Now don’t try it with potato chips and strawberries! (That is actually an example used in a lecture on water activity and humidity in product / coffee storage).

  6. Appreciate this informative video, especially your candor about weighing environmental impact vs. product quality which was refreshing. I will be purchasing some of these bags directly as a result of this video.

    1. Thanks Kenneth – Yes we feel like we need to weigh multiple factors, and our idea was to look for the best green coffee protection and re-usability on the larger sizes. But we are trying to source biodegradable bags for shipping our 1 Lbs in, maybe 2 Lbs as well. Since people will tend to use those quantities sooner, it makes sense, but also the strength of biodegradable bags isn’t great. Nobody wants to have orders with green coffee loose in the box!

  7. Wow, how have I missed the ‘we punch a hole in our bags’ section on your website, I’ve been buying Coffee for at least 15+ years?

    One thing I’d be happy to pay TEN CENTS a bag for is REMOVABLE LABELS! Yes, crazy, but I do transfer your Labels to my Containers after Roasting, and there are times they tear.

    Thanks, now I’m off to transfer all the green coffee I have squirrel away in the dark basement into another container.

  8. If you guys want to conserve plastic, as we all do, then how about having an add-on price to pack the coffee in the Ecotact bags in the first place? That is one less plastic bag that will just be emptied and thrown away to repack in the Ecotact! I would gladly pay extra to have it packed in the Ecotact right at the start! Love y’all!

    1. Our approach now is to look for a biodegradable bag for small sizes, and a reusable high-barrier bag for large sizes like 20 Lbs, plus for storage… We have to balance our warehouse logistics with trying to make incremental changes toward where we want to be. So custom packing each order in different materials is hard for us right now. But we are working on it …

  9. FYI – a friend (USGS hydrogeologist) told me all that’s necessary to make the plastic bag stock not let moisture pass is 6mil thickness. 6mil bag stock has to be more cost effective than a 9 layer custom plastic bag.

    I also asked him about the oxygen. He said Illy chases the oxygen out of their cans with nitrogen, so there’s no vacuum pressure and no oxygen.

    This makes me ask: did you consider reusable cans? You send us the green beans in cans with the oxygen chased out and we send you back empty cans (or maybe one-way, but reuse is best). I think home users can get small nitrogen gas canisters now (used for nitro charging on keggerators) so we could chase the oxygen out of our partially used cans and keep the green beans happy.

  10. “Learn of the skillful; he that teaches himself, has a fool for his master.”
    — Benjamin Franklin

    On at least two details, my master has failed. All the zip-seals on my 5K bags (which my master foolishly read as “5#”, not “5K”) are unable to retain their hold, or even acquire it. I believe an open bag serves little value. Of the 2K bags, only one out of three failed. Both 1K bags were a success.

    There must be something my master is not doing, or seeing, which will solve this. Are you able to help him?

  11. Thanks, Tom.

    Specifically, I am referring to the Ecotact 5K and 2K bags. The zip-seals on all six of the 5K bags I used failed to hold the seal, and on the 2K bags, one of the three failed. As I mentioned, the 1K bags, both of them, held their zip just fine. I, of course, fool that I am, believed that the same process should work on all the bags. I am obviously missing a critical detail, and am hoping you, whom I’ve trusted for years, might bail me out.

  12. sounds good for some people who don’t have reusable containers at home, but IMO I think you should use the cheapest product that gets the job done with the least resources, because I’m just going to transfer to a bin or jar when it gets to my house, or if I know I’m going to store it for a while, a vacuum sealed bag that I already bought and have lots of.

    In reality you should be using reflective metallic bags, like those used by Frontier Organics when they sell bulk herbs and spices (you can find them on Amazon). They aren’t resealable, but they are the best material for preserving food grade items until you need to open it. It should be completely dark inside the container holding the beans.

    Green coffee beans go bad after 1-2 years in storage, in my experience, and they go bad faster the hotter and more humid it is. If you are storing green beans for more than 1-2 years…I would only ask why? There is no practical reason to do that.

  13. I’ve been reading the comments (below) about possible leakage from the EcoTact Bags. I’d bet that all of us have seen a failed Zip-Lock type seal more than once over time with other bags. I’d love to see a plastic bag with a Zip-lock seal design that could compete with heat-sealed plastic bags. For bag-opening sealing, heat sealing (done well) beats any Zip-lock design that I’ve seen. However, where some heat-sealed bags can lose ground is their overall thickness, durability and ability to block air through the bag’s surface.

    I’ve already bagged the first 20lbs of my coffee inventory using the 2Kg bags (which easily hold 5lbs of coffee each). I haven’t (yet) found any failed Zip Lock closure issues on any of my several dozen bags. They were all tightly closed from the factory and they close tightly for me too in use. Maybe I’m just lucky with my batch but would also not expect the EcoTact Zip Locks to be 100% over time and repeated use.

    The only thing that I noticed is that several of my bags have (2), individual, thin lines. ~3.5″ long that run slightly diagonally across the upper face of the bag. At first, I thought there was a cut or scratch across the bag in (2) places. But upon closer inspection is looks more like a very thin fold/seam that is sort-of welded-looking onto the surface of the bag. I tested one of the bags that has this surface defect by filling it with water. It is not leaking water through the surface imperfections.

    The thing I like about these EcoTact bags is the multi-layer design and overall thickness of these bags. Using my Mitutoyo Micrometer, I measured 7-thousandths of thickness (or 7 Mil) on the 9-layer 2Kg EcoTact bag vs the ~3-thousandths (or 3 Mil) on a 5-layer typical “FoodSaver” bag. For me, bag thickness and especially the ability to block air “through” the bag’s surface is important for dry-storage. I know better than to store green coffee too long, so bag durability over-time is what I’m hoping for with the EcoTact product. Time will tell…

  14. Hi, Tom.

    I see there’s been some QA* on your QC. I did move everything over to the 2K bags, with no problem. Do you have any ideas on the 5K bags? Or is it possibly just something I was or am doing specifically with the 5K bags. Which does seem odd. Though, it wouldn’t be the first time for me.

    *QA – questions asked

    1. Yes, I even spent some time today with a stack of bags trying to find one that wouldn’t seal. I know it happens with zip seal bags, when something just doesn’t line up. I couldn’t find one today, which doesn’t mean it isn’t happening! I have heard of people having trouble opening the new bags so I posted some tips to Instagram today on that. The bottom gusset is especially tough. The warehouse people showed me how they basically punch it open with their fist! Posted and IG video on that too…

  15. The first thing that happened after opening one of these in a 20 lb bag is the “handle” broke and I ended up with half of the coffee on my basement floor.

    So, not starting out as a good experience. They seem excessively bulky and difficult to handle for pouring out coffee, very thick and clumsy to handle.

    As a small time roaster, if I keep greens for longer than 6 weeks my ordering needs to be adjusted. What worked best for me was the plain cloth bags with no liner, easy to handle and my clients like getting my leftover bags 🙂

    But I’ll order your coffee no matter what you ship it in.

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