Making the Leap to Automated Packaging: 5 Factors for Choosing a VFFS or Premade Pouch Machine for Your Coffee Roastery

Making the Leap to Automated Packaging: 5 Factors for Choosing a VFFS or Premade Pouch Machine for Your Coffee Roastery 

Kristi Anderson-Runge

In the dynamic world of coffee roasting, where precision, flavor, and presentation matter, every decision can have a profound impact on the success of a roastery. As the demand for quality coffee surges, the choice of commercial coffee packaging equipment becomes crucial. And as a result, coffee roasters are increasingly considering the switch to automatic coffee packaging machines to streamline their operations, increase shelf life, and promote consistency in their branded packaging. 

We’ve written about factors to consider when selecting a manual or automatic packaging machine, so if you decide to take that leap, your next decision will involve exactly what kind of coffee packaging automation is best for you. There are a number of automated packaging options to choose from, but this article focuses on the two most popular options: the Vertical Form Fill Seal (VFFS) machine and the Premade Pouch machine.

Let’s consider five factors to aid in your decision-making: 

  1. Speed and efficiency
  2. Product line variety
  3. Sanitary considerations
  4. Aesthetic appeal
  5. Sustainable packaging

Speed and Efficiency

When considering the speed and efficiency of Premade Pouch machines and VFFS machines, it's important to match your roastery's production volume, capacity for skilled labor, and budget with the capabilities of each machine type. 

While Premade Pouch machines offer flexibility and cost-effectiveness for smaller operations, VFFS machines excel in high-speed, large-volume production environments.

Premade Pouch machines are relatively quick to set up and switch between different bag sizes, making them ideal for small to medium production runs with frequent product changes. These machines can handle various bag styles, including stand-up pouches, flat pouches, and more, providing flexibility in packaging options to cater to consumer preferences.

However, Premade Pouch machines may have limitations in terms of speed, especially for high-volume production. They can also be more labor-intensive, as operators need to load bags onto the machine and perform quality checks, potentially increasing labor costs.

VFFS machines are known for their high-speed capabilities, making them ideal for large-scale roasteries with significant production volumes that demand rapid packaging. They’re also masters of efficiency when it comes to continuous and large production runs, minimizing downtime between batches and maximizing output.

On the other hand, VFFS machines require a more complex initial setup, including film roll loading, forming tubes, and aligning sealing jaws, which might demand skilled operators. You also have to consider changeover challenges: Switching between different bag sizes and styles can be time-consuming and complex, potentially causing production interruptions during frequent product changes.


Variety in Product Line

The variety in your coffee product line plays a significant role in determining whether to opt for a Premade Pouch machine or a VFFS machine for packaging. Here's how this might impact your decision:

Premade Pouch Machines

  1. Flexibility in Bag Styles: As we’ve already noted, Premade Pouch machines are versatile and can accommodate different bag types and sizes.
  1. Quick Changeovers: These machines allow for relatively quick and easy changeovers between different bag sizes and styles. This is beneficial if your product line frequently introduces new variations or limited-time offerings.
  1. Small to Medium Batches: If your product line features a range of small to medium-sized batches, Premade Pouch machines can efficiently handle the diversity in packaging requirements without excessive downtime.

VFFS Machines

  1. High-Speed Performance: VFFS machines are designed for high-speed packaging, making them suitable for coffee product lines with large-volume items that require quick and efficient packaging.
  1. Consistent Quality: Automated sealing and cutting in VFFS machines ensure uniform packaging quality, which is crucial if your product line needs a standardized presentation across various packaging sizes.
  1. Efficiency in Large Runs: If your coffee product line consists primarily of popular, high-demand items, a VFFS machine can handle continuous large production runs with minimal interruptions. 


Sanitary Considerations

Both Premade Pouch machines and VFFS machines offer sanitary benefits, but there are differences to consider.

Premade Pouch machines often feature stainless steel construction, which is easy to clean and sanitize, reducing the risk of contamination and rust. The flat, horizontal orientation of Premade Pouch infeed can aid in preventing dust or debris accumulation, ensuring a clean filling process. Additionally, Premade Pouch machines may have fewer exposed moving parts, minimizing potential contact points for contaminants.

VFFS machines also frequently come with stainless steel construction, and their vertical design can contribute to maintaining a cleaner environment by allowing gravity to assist with preventing debris buildup. However, the vertical movement and complex mechanisms involved in the VFFS process may require more meticulous cleaning to prevent residue accumulation.

Aesthetic Appeal 

Both Premade Pouch machines and VFFS machines contribute to the aesthetic appeal of your packaging, but they do so in different ways.

Premade Pouches can have a sleek, modern, or even artisanal look that resonates well with contemporary consumers. They also allow for ample space to display vibrant labels and branding, creating eye-catching packaging that stands out on the shelves and aligns with your branding.

VFFS machines, on the other hand, typically produce vertically oriented bags. While they may not offer as much surface area for label display as Premade Pouches, their compact design can create a minimalist and sleek appearance. While this can be appealing to certain demographics, others might associate it with a lack of visual excitement or vibrancy that they expect from more elaborate packaging formats. 

An expert weighs in:

"Choosing an automated packaging machine isn't just about convenience; it's about crafting an aesthetic experience. We’re finding that there is increasing demand for the premium quality of premade pouches, as it resonates with customers who appreciate authentic and artisanal designs evocative of their coffee-drinking experience,” said Jacob Resnick of Viking Masek. “That said, if you demand high-production throughput and only have one or two product lines, VFFS machines can produce sleek, minimalist bag designs that will impress your customers — and for less per bag (or impression) than premade pouches." 

Sustainable Packaging

Both Premade Pouch machines and VFFS machines offer unique advantages when it comes to sustainable, eco-responsible packaging. 

Premade Pouch Machines:

  • Use pre-formed pouches, often designed to minimize material waste.
  • Use pouches often made from recyclable materials, such as paper, kraft paper, or biodegradable plastics, reducing their impact on the environment.
  • The process of using premade pouches in these machines can be energy-efficient, as it requires less heat and energy compared to forming and sealing pouches on-site.
  • Printing directly on premade pouches can reduce the need for additional labels or coatings, minimizing the use of inks and chemicals.

VFFS Machines:

  • Can create pouches with custom sizes, reducing excess material usage and ensuring a snug fit for the product. This customization minimizes waste.
  • Can use recyclable plastics or compostable films, aligning with eco-friendly practices. (Film manufacturers are working hard to constantly improve eco-friendly film options that don’t impede packaging quality.)
  • Enable on-demand packaging, reducing the need to transport premade pouches, which can decrease carbon emissions associated with transportation.
  • Often include printing capabilities, allowing roasteries to print labels and graphics directly on the packaging. This minimizes the need for additional labels and their associated waste.

SUSTAINABILITY SIDE-NOTE: Regardless of the machine type you select, roasteries can contribute to sustainability by selecting recyclable, biodegradable, or compostable materials for their packaging. Additionally, by optimizing the sizing of pouches and minimizing excess material, coffee roasteries can reduce their environmental footprint and promote responsible packaging practices.


So, How Do You Choose A Premade Pouch or VFFS Packaging Machine?

We've given you a lot to consider and only focused on five key factors. This “at a glance” scorecard should help you quickly size up the qualities of each option — offering a quicker reveal of the choice that might be the best fit for you.

Just check off the considerations that mean the most for your coffee roastery and then tally them up at the end to get a sense of which option might be more viable for your roastery operations.


Coffee Equipment Pros Can Help

The decision to switch to automated packaging is a significant step for any coffee roastery. Both VFFS and Premade Pouch machines offer unique advantages, with VFFS machines excelling in practicality, speed, and cost-effectiveness (over time) and Premade Pouch machines showcasing more aesthetic packaging options and suitable for smaller production runs.

Coffee Equipment Pros can help you carefully assess your roastery's needs, budget, and long-term goals so that you can choose the packaging solution that aligns with your brand's vision and aspirations — ensuring that your coffee products stand out on shelves and delight consumers worldwide.

And it might just be that this isn’t an either-or decision. Some roasteries find a need for a Premade Pouch machine for their smaller, more specialized product lines and a VFFS machine to handle higher output for one or two higher-demand product lines.

Our partnership with Viking Masek means we can connect you with multiple packaging options like their 4SC-235 Rotary Premade Pouch Machine, 8S-235 Rotary Premade Pouch Machine, M250 Vertical Form Fill Seal (VFFS) Machine, and ST800 Multilane Stickpack Machine.

Plus, Viking Masek has just introduced the VFFS Velocity, billed as the fastest VFFS machine in the world, with its 300 bag-per-minute capability.

And at the time of this writing, we also have a Used Elite 2021 8S-235 Single Lane Premade Pouch Machine available to ship to you immediately. 

For more information and details, call us @ 855.585.2500 or call/text Rick direct @ 949.289.8083.

Remember, we’re here to find the right commercial coffee equipment for you — quickly and affordably. 
Because Roasters Need To Roast™.


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