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Vacuum Packaging
2 February 2009

Kona Coffee bags

Dear Kona Earth,

My coffee arrived yesterday, thank you for the fast shipping.  I opened one of the bags this morning and the coffee is fantastic.  It appears that the other bag is no longer vacuum packed.  Is it still fresh?

Every once in awhile we will receive an email similar to the one above.  It is rare and always from a customer that has ordered two, half pound bags of coffee.  When their order arrives, one bag appears to be vacuum packed while the other looks like it has air in it.  If this happens to you, don't worry, both bags of coffee are still fine.

We ship most of our coffee in boxes.  For orders of only two bags we can charge less shipping if we use an envelope.  The disadvantage of using an envelope is that the coffee is more likely to arrive a little squished.  Luckily coffee is more squish resistant than say... papayas.  We don't recommend mailing ripe papayas in an envelope.

We polled several customers and the consensus was that the cost savings of using an envelope was worth the chance that the coffee may arrive slightly squished.  In some cases the envelope may even be torn slightly but so far the coffee inside has never been damaged.  As long as the beans aren't crushed, giving coffee a little squeeze is perfectly harmless.  In fact, if you have a bag of Kona Earth coffee with a little air in it, squeeze the air out of the one-way valve and you will be rewarded with a brief aroma of roasted Kona coffee.

Kona Coffee Open air is the enemy of coffee freshness.  Ground coffee can go stale in a matter of hours which is why we sell whole bean coffee.  A sealed bag of whole bean coffee can last a couple months.  Unfortunately a couple months is usually how long it takes for supermarket coffee to go from the roaster to the packaging plant to one warehouse then another warehouse to the store shelf and finally to your kitchen counter.  Purchasing directly from the farm avoids all those delays so you get some of the freshest coffee possible.

We do not vacuum package our coffee.  There is no need.  We don't roast the coffee until it is ready to be shipped then we seal it in a foil bag with a one-way valve.  Vacuum packaging doesn't work with really fresh coffee anyways.

Freshly roasted coffee will out-gas for several hours.  If packaged right away the bag will inflate like a balloon.  Our bags have a one-way valve which allows the excess pressure to leave the bag while keeping any air from getting in, no fancy vacuum required.

Since freshness is so important, we always roast, package and ship our coffee as quickly as possible.  On more than one occasion we have been frantically packaging coffee, trying to get it ready in time for the mail lady.  It throws us off when she arrives early.

Cargo planes are constantly bringing goods into Hawaii but they usually fly out empty.  So environmentally speaking, Kona coffee gets a free ride when shipped to the mainland.  As a Kona coffee farmer, we receive a huge discount from FedEx because we are one of the few exporters from the island.  Even with that discount, it is still cheaper and just as fast to use USPS Priority Mail.

We can ship with other carriers but most of the time the USPS Flat Rate Priority Mail can't be beat.  It is the least expensive option available and reliably fast.  Every once in awhile though, a package will arrive a little squished.  So if you receive a bag that appears to be vacuum packed, you can thank the U.S. Post Office for their free vacuum packaging services.  Sometimes they take the word Flat in 'Flat Rate' a little too seriously.




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