Packaging coffee is the process of enclosing roasted coffee (whole bean or ground) to protect it from sunlight, moisture, and oxygen, with the goal of preserving the coffee's taste and aromatic characteristics, and also to contain the coffee in controlled portions for ease of sale.
Valve-Sealed Bags and Vacuum-Sealed Bags
Whole bean coffee or freshly-ground coffee is typically packaged in valve-sealed bags or vacuum-sealed bags, instant coffee is often packaged in vacuumized sealed jars, cans, or other airtight packaging.
Vacuum-sealed bags are generally considered an inferior method of shipping freshly-roasted coffee beans because carbon dioxide and other gases emit from coffee beans for several days after roasting (this is called degassing) and if these gases are not allowed to escape they will harm the delicate flavors of the coffee.
Neither is it good to leave the coffee unpackaged after roasting because it will cause the coffee flavors to degrade due to exposure to moisture, sunlight, and oxygen. Thus a valve-sealed bag, which allows gases to escape, is the preferred method of shipping freshly-roasted coffee.
Pod Coffee Packaging
Pods are roasted, ground coffee that is self-contained, usually with perforated filter paper, and pre-pressed into a puck shape that fits into a pod portafilter for brewing an espresso. Pods are often individually packaged to help preserve each pod's freshness.
Pros and Cons of Pod Coffee
Disadvantages of the pod system include a higher cost per serving, and also questions about quality as compared to freshly ground and tamped coffee. Another problem is the waste associated with the extensive packaging (e.g., mylar film pouches used to individually wrap each pod).
Coffee and Espresso Brewing Tips
For tips on brewing the perfect cup of coffee see our section on coffee brewing. You can also read detailed coffee flavor profiles of gourmet coffee and instructions on preparing Espresso Drink Recipes.