Monthly Archives: October 2012

Coffee Packaging

 

old-mapWe started providing coffee in mason jars for the purpose of having a solid-waste free packaging option. This has some benefits and also some limitations.

The big benefit is clearly to the elimination of packaging waste going to garbage and recycling. Hopefully the end user is either self-composting or using a municipal collection program for the spent grounds. Grounds make a great soil additive, and does not need composting for this purpose.

There are drawbacks. Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

-lack of a suitable labeling method, both for consumer product labeling, branding, and adding changing product data, for example as the coffee beans change.

-although there is no solid waste, the jars must be washed and sterilized prior to re-use. This requires detergent, heat and water consumption and the resulting effluent.

-coffee in jars is both bulkier and heavier than in flexible packaging (bags), needing more space in the delivery truck and more fuel use (CO2 production). The jars must be returned for re-use, generating more CO2. Also, if the jars are not returned, we have to assume they are becoming part of the waste stream in one way or another.

-consumers do not take up coffee purchases in jars as readily as bagged coffee. The reasons for this are not clear to me.

VS Coffee BagsWe are currently packaging retail coffee in 400g, 3 ply bags. These bags are light in weight, ship to us flat packed, and have a one way valve and a zip lock seal to protect the coffee from oxidation and loss of aroma as much as practical. It provides a nice area for labeling. I wish the bags were recyclable, but I am told by our local recycling authority that the technology does not yet exist to deal with plastic bags. Compostable bags do not provide adequate oxygen barrier for shelf life, at this time.

If you have any comments or suggestions for more sustainable coffee packaging, I would love to hear them.


Coffee Date Squares

I found this recipe on http://loblaws.ca/60carlton/

It has  three of my favourite ingredients: coffee (espresso), dates, and oatmeal. Actually four, if you count cinnamon. I think this recipe will hit my sweet spot quite nicely! You could always use Velvet Sunrise Coffee Roasters Espresso http://www.velvetsunrise.ca/ in this recipe Be right back. It will be available at Loblaws Maple Leaf Gardens store very soon, and has  caramel, nut and sweet fruited notes that should complement very well.

Coffee Date Squares You need to make really strong coffee, so the flavour comes through in the squares. Medjool dates and honey dates sold in the produce department are soft and easier to chop than baking dates packed in blocks, but you will have to pit them. Enjoy with a cup of coffee.

Serves: 36 | Prep time: 15 minutes | Cook and chill time: 25 minutes | Difficulty Level: Intermediate | Chef: Dana Speers

Measure
Ingredient

¾ cup (175 mL) PC Holiday Blend Coffee beans, ground fine for espresso

1 cup (250 mL) roughly chopped pitted dates

1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour

½ cup (125 mL) large old fashioned rolled oats

1 tsp (5 mL) cinnamon

½ tsp (2 mL) salt

½ tsp (2 mL) baking powder

½ tsp (2 mL) baking soda

¼ cup (50 mL) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup (250 mL) packed dark brown sugar

¼ cup (50 mL) icing sugar

 

Method
  1. Brew coffee in espresso maker to make ¾ cup (175 mL) espresso. Set aside to cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease 9-inch square (2.5 L) cake pan and line with parchment paper.
  3. In small bowl, soak dates in ¼ cup (50 mL) of the espresso. In another bowl, whisk together flour, oats, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
  4. In stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter and brown sugar on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Reduce speed to low; while beating, drizzle in remaining espresso. Slowly add flour mixture and date mixture, beating on low speed just until combined. Scrape mixture into prepared pan. Smooth the top.
  5. Bake in centre of oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until cake tester inserted in centre comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack. Cut into 36 squares. Serve dusted with icing sugar.

Mark