Starbucks thinks you might like whole bean coffee in big plastic jars.
About one week ago, I told you about a test in limited Starbucks locations in Virginia: Whole bean coffee in big canisters.
Since I wrote that article, two people used the “Submit a pic“ button, and sent in more photos and information. I’m fascinated by this test: If Starbucks started selling whole bean coffee in big plastic jars, it would represent a massive departure from the decades-long practice of selling whole bean coffee in Flavorlock packaging.
One reader submitted a nice photo of what the whole bean wall looks like with coffee in jars. (I want one of those jars!!)
One thing that Starbucks has to figure out is how to create an effective one-way valve with the new packaging. In my previous article, I didn’t have any picture to show how Starbucks accomplishes that. Turns out, the valve is underneath the lid:
Here’s a look at the underside of the lid:
And I also got an email showing the standard packaging with test jars (14 ounce jars as opposed to a 16 ounce bag of coffee) side by side:
As to why the test packaging, I got a little more insight in one of the two emails. The reader mentioned that Starbucks believes that about half of Starbucks customers repack their whole bean coffee into a resealable vessel (like a big coffee jar) when they get home. Many Starbucks customers believe that it’s easier to reach the coffee at the bottom if it’s in a jar-like container, and their coffee will stay fresher. A jar makes it easier for customers to pour or scoop coffee.
If by chance there’s someone reading this who can send me a test jar, please reach out to me! I want one just to see it up close and personal, and the novelty of having Starbucks coffee in a big plastic jar.
Just a reminder to readers, Starbucks tests many more things than what actually makes it to a nationwide launch. This one though, has my interest piqued!
If the plastic jar holds smaller amount of coffee, then it is their way of a price increase. Perhaps, to recover the cost of the plastic jar.
I would like to see an option in which I can get a 14-oz jar and then buy 16-oz bags to refill. If they keep the jar and the bag the same price, then it would make sense for me to pay more for the initial cost of the jar.
I would also like to add that it will be “greener” for Starbucks if they use a more square or rectangular jars because they can fit more on a pallet.
I read that the major reason that Costco switched their plastic jars from round to square (like jars of mixed nuts), is that they can fit more on a pallet, without all the gaps between the jars. They save money from shipping and ultimately is better for the environment.
Melody, this is fascinating! Do you happen to know which region in Virginia they’re testing this in? I’d love to grab some, perhaps I could send you some too!
@Soon – I heard Richmond, Virginia. Hope you find them!
@BrianChow – I think this world be a small price increase, but maybe it’s worth it. Interested points about square versus round jars!
@Becca – I hadn’t thought about the visual aspect, but I can see what you’re saying!
Wouldn’t this expose the coffee to light and isn’t that a no-no?
(Ps happy belated birthday Melody)
Hi Melody, I happen to live in Richmond and stocked up on Sulawesi – which is my favorite coffee. Now I have all those plastic jars, and have noticed that my store sells all their coffee in plastic jars. Personally, I don’t know what to do with them all, so I will be buying my coffee in grocery stores again, just so I get a bag, unless they reintroduce the bag option at the Starbucks stores.
@ElisabethKuhn – On my phone sorry so short and sloppy. I’m a little confused. When do you normally do with empty plastic jars, like shampoo bottles, peanut butter jars, anything typically sold in plasma jars? Can’t you just throw the old coffee jars into your city recycle pick up bin at your house or apartment? I would love a jar. Feel free to mail me one or 2 to 4616 – 25th Avenue NE #202, Seattle Washington 98105. Maybe I can send you a loaded Starbucks card for the shipping expense.
I do not like the new canisters. I do not see how these PLASTIC containers can be more “green” than the soft pack bags. I also miss my extra 2 ounces of coffee. Really, it makes a difference when you are making coffee every day. I would like to have the whole bean bags back, Mr. Schultz.
I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the reasons they’re running this trial is that the container is recyclable with existing recycling programs, whereas the Flavorlock package isn’t. (And I just read Melody’s previous entry where she mentioned this.)
@Debra I’ven’t performed a full lifecycle analysis, but I’d guess at this juncture a preliminary investigation by Starbucks has come up to the conclusion that the canisters have the potential to be greener.
Big plastic jars .. ?? Well, plastic is not a ‘sympatico’ material for decent foodstuffs Maybe this will be an exception But the real deal is we lose 2 ounces Will the price be adjusted to compensate .. perhaps .. !! [& yes I put my coffee in a big Delft storage jar ; but I leave it in it’s original bag & I reseal it every time Clever boy] Way to go is this : bring it on, drink it, cos it’s the taste that matters – however, I’d be happy to give it a go & let you know Jacques
In Richmond and not happy with Starbucks new containers. I have a cabinet filling up with these empty containers, and less coffee in my personal container which I much prefer to use. Believe it or not, where I am in Richmond there is not curbside recycling. (just moved here a few months ago and love it, except they are a bit behind the times when it comes to recycling.) So I actually googled “what do you do with all the new empty Starbucks plastic containers” and found this website 🙂
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I think there’s something to this. You can also see the glistening beans making it a bit more appealing than a bag.
But then there’s also possible damage during shipping, waste of the container (if there’s a hole in the lid you can’t really reuse it). Also would the price go up to include the costs (it has to cost more than the bag)