‘Doing the right thing’ in the discerning world of coffee

Sappi’s flexible packaging paper Leine Nature is the perfect substrate for Savor Brands’ stunning “Compost+” industrial compostable coffee bags

Compost+ Bags

Meeting very discerning customer demands in terms of eco-friendliness, premium design, exceptional haptics and, of course, 100% product-safe packaging, these were the challenges US-based Savor Brands– a specialist in sustainable custom coffee packaging – was up against. Sappi, a leading manufacturer of packaging and specialty papers, had the product that ticked all the boxes: Leine Nature uncoated compostable paper.

Savor Brands, founded in Honolulu, is a recognised trailblazer in customised packaging solutions in creating high end custom coffee packaging, food packaging, and enhancing the retail consumer experience. The company’s dedication to pushing the limits of packaging becomes clear the moment you set eyes on their prototype ‘Pono’ coffee brand. It was created to visualise Savor Brands’ incredible range of possibilities in printing and print finishing. The Hawaiian word ‘Pono’ means to ‘do the right thing’ and aptly describes Savor Brands’ philosophy and approach. The company took on the challenge of achieving complete circularity with its products and creating a sustainable end-of-life solution. Marketing its products predominantly to coffee and food manufacturers in North America, the Middle East, Latin America and Europe, Savor Brands recognised early on the need for an eco-friendly product for the US market.

“We realised that the US market was in desperate need of a sustainable solution,” remembers Patrick Lau, co-founder and CEO of Savor Brands.

Patrick Lau

“There’s a lot of greenwashing going on out there. For example, many manufacturers are content with buying compound products that are compostable when separated, but not when left in one piece. We recognised that the US is becoming more sophisticated when it comes to sustainable solutions. And we didn’t want to offer solutions that are only partly compostable or recyclable. We set the bar much higher: We wanted a product that we could be proud of. And we wanted to provide all our partners with a sustainable option as we continue to work towards fully home-compostable packaging.”


Searching the world over for a compostable substrate

A partly compostable solution was out of the question for Savor Brands. The new product would have to entirely fulfil the brief. “We needed a visually appealing material to protect the freshness of roasted coffee on the shelves. But we were also keen to preserve the carbon footprint generated along the entire coffee supply chain – from farm to cup. And, of course, it had to enable us to create a 100% industrial compostable film,” highlights Patrick Lau.

“What may sound easy, however, is very challenging. We literally searched the entire world for a compostable paper that could withstand the lamination process and keep all its qualities and properties!”

Patrick Lau, co-founder and CEO of Savor Brands


In its quest to find the perfect substrate, the Savor Brands team experienced a number of disappointments. For instance, kraft papers tested didn’t keep their shape during processing or the finished product didn’t live up to its visual promise. Perhaps worst of all, some kraft papers tested had chemicals used in its processing that negatively impacted the final decomposition process – a factor that was non-negotiable for Savor Brands in its quest to meet compostability standards in the US and Europe.

The search proved fruitful when Sappi appeared on the scene with its Leine Nature flexible packaging paper product. Leola Leung, Managing Director Graphics and Specialities Asia at Sappi remembers:

“For this specific application, we recommended our machine glazed bleached Leine Nature kraft paper. This solution from our speciality papers portfolio features an uncoated top side as well as an untreated reverse side. And most importantly, this paper which is designed for flexible packaging applications is fully compostable!”

Leola Leung, Managing Director Graphics and Specialities Asia at Sappi


The paper was spot on and showed such promising results in internal testing that Savor Brands ordered additional quantities for more in-depth testing in September 2023.


Challenges in processing: flawless quality with printing and lamination

On the way to creating perfect quality, thorough testing was needed, and the process wasn’t without its own challenges: “First of all, we had to make sure that the paper can be printed with two different printing processes,” explains Patrick Lau.

“For limited seasonal products or to provide smaller customers with lower bag quantities, the paper had to work perfectly with digital printing. We also needed it work with rotogravure in cases where customers wanted higher quantities and more cost-effective production.”

Patrick Lau, co-founder and CEO of Savor Brands


Further testing for printing and especially in the lamination process with metallized PLA and an additional sealing layer – essential to create an effective barrier to ensure product safety – showed that the paper literally had two faces. Whereas the smooth side exhibited ideal results in printing and lamination, the rough side turned out to be more capricious to print and laminate. “Savor Brands wanted to be able to use both sides of the paper and create attractive coffee bags,” Leola Leung remembers. “And although printing with rotogravure on the rough side and then laminating it didn’t provide the best results at first, as the fibres sucked in too much adhesive, we were quite sure that our paper could pass this test as well.” In the end, the quality offered by the 50 g/m² Leine Nature proved to be the perfect choice and digital printing on the rough side ultimately delivered the desired effect. Savor Brands was happy with the printed design as well as the look & feel following the laminating process.



Compostable packaging with premium haptics and performance

This milestone marked the birth of Savor Brands’ “Pono Compost+” coffee pouches, a multilayer laminate film consisting of four compostable components – and for which Sappi’s paper was the key. The solution, which is impressive from a sustainability perspective, achieves the desired coffee packaging aesthetics and functionality – passing the POS test with a very discerning clientele: “We are delighted with the high-quality feel of the coffee bags. The sensory experience is very important to coffee lovers. We had to make sure we captured the essence of the paper to give consumers a premium sensory experience with the feel of the coffee bags. In this market, it’s very rare that compostable packaging looks this good and performs even better,” explains Patrick Lau.

Savor Brands launched their new coffee packaging at this year’s Chicago Coffee Expo 2024 – the trade fair for the North American and the global specialty coffee industry. Compost+ was a resounding success and generated a lot of interest in this new type of packaging. Visitors to the fair were also very impressed with the fact that the new coffee packaging is 100% industrial compostable – certified by the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) and by DIN CERTCO, part of TÜV Rheinland Group. This is exactly what US customers were waiting for.

“We’re thrilled with this success and all the more convinced that we’re on the right track in terms of doing the right thing,” concludes Patrick Lau. “This new product fits right in with our business philosophy. We all need to work together – as we’re all part of one ecosystem. We can only succeed if everybody in the chain succeeds. And ultimately, it’s all about working with likeminded partners – like Sappi – who share the same values!”


About Savor Brands

Established in 2002, Savor Brands has evolved into a true specialist when it comes to providing custom coffee packaging with unrivalled print quality. Their products are sold to the food and coffee industry in the US, the Middle East, Latin America and Europe. While sales and marketing are based in Hawaii, printing and production take place at selected locations in China. The company is extremely ambitious and aims to continuously raise the benchmark, setting trends while elevating their customers’ brands. Inspired by their partners and designers, and never losing sight of the retail consumer, Savor Brand is committed to pushing the limits and to creating striking, high-impact packaging – while commanding attention with unique, memorable retail experiences. Above all, however, the aim is to create sustainable solutions that are more than just packaging – closing the loop on the products they create. 

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