The humble teabag has long been a popular and convenient method to brew tea, however, is the recent revival of the coffee bag likely to become as popular. With an increasing number of brewing methods available today, can the coffee bag compete to become a staple in our kitchen cupboards?
With coffee bags growing in popularity and speed and convenience an important factor in our busy lives, I look at what makes them a popular choice amongst coffee drinkers.
What are coffee bags?
Coffee bags are individually wrapped to keep the coffee fresh. The bag itself is a little finer than a tea bag to help retain coffee grinds during the brewing process. An important factor I wanted to look for when using them. Coffee bags are ideal for those who drink instant coffee, know how to brew a teabag, but have no idea where to begin with making fresh coffee. They are also ideal for established coffee lovers who need an instant version of having a sophisticated coffee on the go. There is an added benefit of not having to clean your coffee machine or French press – which I find traps ground coffee in its layers of mesh causing a build-up of old coffee residue. Nor is there any faff with gadgets or spilled coffee grounds.
Do coffee bags taste good?
I have chosen to try and review the coffee bags from Taylors of Harrogate to see whether they can produce a good cup of coffee. Taylors have a strong presence in the coffee market, and they are a popular brand of choice, with many of the main supermarkets stocking their products.
When reviewing Taylors of Harrogate coffee bags, I took away three boxes on a recent caravanning holiday:
and Decaffe Roast 4
As expected, the caravan (on a holiday park site) did not come equipped with any method to brew a ground coffee, so I was looking forward to having a freshly ground coffee on holiday without all the faff of bringing my French press – as with two young children, car space was at a premium!
For this article, I did take the bags in the boxes, but I would have taken the wrapped bags out of the boxes to save on space when packing. The box contains 10 individually wrapped coffee bags.
How to brew with coffee bags?
For my first attempt at brewing I used a Taylors of Harrogate: ‘Rich Italian Roast 4’ coffee bag and brewed it for two minutes as recommended in the directions. I had this as my mid-morning coffee.
Disclaimer: My preference is for a full-bodied, strong, and rich coffee – but not bitter or ‘muddy’, just a hearty coffee that gives me a warm, satisfied feeling.
I took the bag out of its (individual) wrapper and put it in a mug, after which I poured boiling water. As stated, I left the bag to brew for two minutes. I then squeezed the bag at the side of the mug and added a dash of milk – my personal preference.
I found that this produces a weak and mild coffee to my taste, but appreciate that not everyone enjoys a stronger coffee, so this brewing time of two minutes would be a good indicator to those who prefer a delicate and smooth coffee – my partner found this to be amenable to his taste.
To make this coffee to my taste, I left the bag in to brew for five minutes and found this gave me a coffee with a condensed flavour that was gratifying.
I was dubious to try the ‘Hot Lava Java Roast 6’ coffee bag, as the volcano on the packaging was indicative of a concentrated, intense and pungent coffee.
Again, Taylors recommend a brewing time of two minutes and I was keen to adhere to these instructions as I did not want an over-bearing, bitter coffee. I made this with a dash of milk.
However, I was pleasantly surprised! This coffee bag has a much fuller flavour compared with the Rich Italian Roast, which, after drinking Hot Lava Java, I found to be quite thin and insipid.
What coffee bags taste the best?
In my opinion, Hot Lava Java is definitely a coffee to drink first thing in the morning; it was the perfect cuppa to set me up for the day. I did also drink this in the late afternoon but found it was too intense and too caffeinated so late in the day and I was unable to fall asleep at my usual hour.
When brewing this coffee bag again, I trialled brewing for five minutes, and found that it did not ‘muddy’ or become bitter; instead, it felt more robust and gratifying – I did not feel the need to drink another one, as I do with some coffees when I don’t feel satisfied.
The Decaffe Roast 4 is very similar to the Rich Italian coffee bags. As stated above, I personally brewed it for longer, and I found this to be a nice and well-rounded coffee for the evenings.
As I have already said, my preference is for a strong coffee, so if you’re not partial to one yourself, I would recommend the Rich Italian Roast 4., brewing to the recommended two minutes or less, dependent on your taste. In fact, I quite enjoyed the Rich Italian coffee bag, brewed at two minutes, on a hot summer’s day, as it tasted lighter and more refreshing than the Hot Lava Java ever would in this situation.
Overall, coffee bags taste like filter/ground coffee. They are perfect for making one cup of coffee with a fresh, ground taste. Whereas coffee brewed with a French press typically provides for two or more people.
Coffee bags were perfect for my holiday. It was a real treat to have a fresh ground coffee using an ‘instant’ method of brewing: the bags removed grinding, steaming and circulating, and also the inconvenience of making one cup of coffee using coffee equipment.
When at home, I do not make a decaffeinated ground coffee for a drink in the late afternoons or evenings, as I am the only one in our house who will have coffee at this time (I am not a tea drinker) and so I don’t feel the need to make a full cafetiere for just myself. But, since trying these decaf coffee bags, I can assuredly say that I will be buying them so that I can have a ‘proper’ coffee and not instant coffee in the evenings. Additionally, my mum has recently purchased the Decaffe Roast 4 coffee bags, as she only drinks coffee occasionally and prefers the individually wrapped bags due to keeping them fresh for longer. This way she can have ground coffee without waste, and she has the convenience to make a good cup of coffee quickly.
In all of the Taylors coffee bags I have sampled, not once did I have ground residue in my mug. The bags appear to be made of tighter weave in construction, giving you the confidence that the coffee will remain in the bag and not find its way into your brew.
Should you buy Coffee bags?
They would be ideal for travel purposes without the need for additional apparatus; you only need to find yourself a vessel of boiling water. They are ideal for camping or going on a caravanning holiday when you do not have room to pack your favourite French press or percolator. Making them perfect for backpackers and those travelling light. Every inch counts when packing!
There are two benefits to using coffee bags:
- Time saved
- Quality over standard instant coffee.
Are Taylors coffee bags organic?
Taylors use UTZ Certified coffee. The UTZ, now part of the Rainforest Alliance, provides better opportunities for farmers and their families, enabling them to use improved farming methods to grow better crops, which consequently generates more income.
Are coffee bags more expensive?
- One coffee bag has around 7.5g in; a 75g box of ten single-use coffee bags from Taylors of Harrogate will cost around £2.80, costing 28p per cup of coffee.
- A 227g bag of Taylors of Harrogate ground coffee will cost around £3.75 giving you approximately sixteen cups of coffee (based on 1tbsp per cup), costing around 14p per cup.
However, despite being more expensive than a bag of ground coffee from the same brand, they are still super affordable. The convenience factor clearly outweighs the method of preparing ground coffee straight from a larger bag.
How long have coffee bags existed?
Coffee bags aren’t new to the world of coffee, they have been around since the 1970s. In the last couple of years, they have had a resurgence in popularity with more coffee brands investing in this modest method of brewing; thus, there is a much greater choice on the current market.
Are coffee bags compostable?
One notable improvement in the manufacturing of coffee bags is the fact that they are 100% compostable. Something we have all come to expect from in the fight against waste. The bags are made from PLA, a plant-based plastic often referred to as BioWeb. Bioweb can be broken down in council compost bins. It cannot be broken down in domestic compost bins due to the heat which is required to decompose it.
The cardboard box, made from FSC certified packaging, is widely recycled, but the sachet is not yet recyclable.
Taylors of Harrogate are certified Carbon Neutral.
Are coffee bags better than instant?
The answer to whether coffee bags are better than instant coffee is: yes they are. With similar brewing times and with no apparatus required. Coffee bags contain all the flavour and aroma you would expect from a traditionally brewed filter coffee. Coffee bags contain whole coffee beans which have been finely ground before being added to a bag, it is then heat-sealed closed. With just a few minutes brewing the bag, a little squeeze at the side of the mug, you have a vastly superior cup of coffee compared with an instant coffee, with little to no mess. The ground coffee infuses the hot water, compared with instant coffee (dried coffee extract) which dissolves.
As noted above, the convenience of coffee bags far outweighs that of instant coffee: coffee bags come in individually wrapped packets, saving space in your bag if going to work, or if you’re going travelling, or camping.