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Sonoco CoffeeCan – a gastight rigid paper container designed to keep coffee fresh

Hockenheim / Milan, October 2015. Sonoco has a longstanding experience in the production of rigid high-quality carton packages. The company is both market and technology leader in the market segment of rigid paper containers, also called composite cans and composite drums. At HOST 2015 (pav. 22, stand Q42), Sonoco is demonstrating a 100% gastight coffee container for home use with long shelf life – tests have proven that for up to 18 months. The Sonoco CoffeeCan serves for roasted and ground coffee as well as for whole beans. This innovative system offers a viable alternative to conventional metal cans and opens up great opportunities for the coffee sector. In terms of product hygiene and safety, the new composite can with (valved) UltraSeal guarantees the same properties as metal containers – with many more advantages.

The rigid paper container is made from a combination of materials, including recycled cardboard with an aluminium lining that serves as a barrier. This is coupled with a freshness seal, a metal base and a plastic cap to reclose the can after the first opening. The UltraSeal system is similar to that seen on most commercially available cans. The opening is available with a flat tab to lift and pull. Gastight and safe, the container keeps the contents fresh. It is also easy to use for consumers, as they are already familiar with the opening systems. Moreover, coffee roasters de-gas the coffee directly in the can immediately after roasting (and grinding if the coffee is not in beans) because the one way valve permits CO2 to exit but not oxygen to enter. This results in both space and handling savings.

Composite cans – light, competitive, and sustainable
Many of today’s products, including foods, pet foods, powdered milk, tobacco and coffee, are highly perishable. These products require gastight packaging that protects against oxygen, humidity, light and other external factors. At the same time, the packaging needs to prevent the deterioration of aroma, flavour and nutritional properties. Packaging that meets these requirements provides maximum protection throughout the product life cycle, maximises shelf life and retains product quality.

Rigid paper containers with UltraSeal are designed to preserve product freshness. An ideal packaging solution for powdered products in many different market sectors, they are also used in the coffee industry as an alternative to metal cans. Composite cans offer clear advantages when it comes to product sustainability, protection, safety and convenience.

Scientific study proves gas-tightness
From 2013-15, a study in cooperation with Demus Lab s.r.l. measured residual oxygen, peroxides and acidity levels in Sonoco’s 99mm coffee cans at regular intervals to establish can hermeticity. To compare performance across packaging options, metal cans and flexible packaging were also filled and tested. Demus Lab used two different types of coffee (whole bean and ground) – 100% Arabica as well as a blend of 50% Arabica and 50% Robusta. The can’s performance was evaluated over a period of 18 months. In addition, sensory tests were conducted to establish long-term quality and freshness of the coffee inside the can. The tests validated that there was no detectable oxygen present in Sonoco’s coffee cans and only very low levels of acidity and peroxides. This ensures a consistently fresh-tasting product and high quality for fresh roasted coffee beans and ground coffee.

Composite cans with UltraSeal
Since the mid-1940s, composite materials have gradually become a viable alternative to tinplate or metal containers. Composite cans have gained market share because they are practical, lightweight and recyclable. They are made from recycled cardboard or other barrier materials, a rigid inter-mediary layer of recycled cardboard and a laser-cut label on the outside. On the top of the can is a seal made from aluminium or cardboard. The tops can be opened by hand to make them easy for consumers to use. Depending on the contents of the can and its specific requirements, the bottom end can be manufactured from cardboard, plastic, metal or aluminium. Sonoco composite cans with UltraSeal are ideal for powdered milk, nuts and other perishable products.

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