“Coffee Tea Bags” are the Newest Way to Enjoy Coffee. What are They?
I share my motivation for creating coffee tea bags and answer FAQs
Why did you come up with the “coffee tea bags”?
I love coffee and enjoy the ritual of preparing a cup at home but…
I don’t always have enough time for pour over, french press, or drip. Sometimes, I feel so tired that I need coffee to make coffee!
I had always wished for a solution — something that was easy, pre-portioned, and most importantly, didn’t require clean up! Instant coffee and K-cups just didn’t do it for me. The quality of the coffee was low and for K-cups, the environmental cost was high.
Coffee tea bags were inspired by my love of pour overs. Ultimately, a pour over is simply a method of passing hot water through a “single serve” amount of coffee grinds held inside of an open paper filter. The thought dawned on me: what if the filter was sealed, and the grounds were pre-portioned already? Just add a string, and you’ve got a tea bag, but with coffee!
Although I still love the process of making a pour over when time allows, I can now grab a tea bag (or two, or three…) when heading to the office, taking a flight, going camping, or anywhere, really.
How come it smells fresh even though it’s pre-ground?
Freshly ground coffee is the gold standard, and our coffee tea bags keep coffee fresh for an extended period. How do we do that? Since oxygen is what makes ground coffee go stale fast, if you prevent oxidation you can preserve freshness in coffee. The coffee tea bags will smell fresh because they are nitrogen-sealed individually as soon as they are ground to preserve the flavor and aroma. So when you pop open one of our coffee bags, it will smell like it’s off the grinder.
Why is it superior to K-cups?
First, the quality of our coffee is higher than what is commonly used in K-cups and we roast our coffee in small batches. We use specialty coffee than makes up less than 1% of all coffee produced. We also use 50% more coffee per bag than a K-cup, for a stronger more flavorful cup. Second, our coffee bags brew coffee with the flavor complexity of a pour-over you would enjoy at a coffee shop, with nuances of tasting notes, which is beyond the capabilities of the K-cup brewer. Third, our coffee tea bags are completely compostable, down to the ink, and therefore a more sustainable option than the K-cups that are harmful to the environment.
Are coffee tea bags the same as instant coffee?
Not at all. Instant coffee is coffee that has been previously brewed and then dehydrated to form crystals that you then rehydrate with hot water to drink. It dissolves instantly and has been the choice for convenience although the taste is considered inferior to freshly brewed coffee. Our coffee tea bags contain ground coffee that has not been brewed, yet, and are just as convenient as instant coffee.
This tastes great! Why hasn’t anyone done this before?
I wondered too — after all, we’ve had tea bags for a long time. Coffee is trickier to brew than tea because it requires a certain temperature and grind combination to extract the desirable aromatic compounds that coffee drinkers love. Beyond that, it’s even trickier to find the right bag material to allow enough water to pass through, but not let out finely-ground compounds. Thankfully, new innovations have made this possible.
Does this work better for some coffees than others?
The taste of coffee, like wine, is heavily influenced by the varietal, soil, and micro-climate of the growing region. Our Kenyan beans are grown at high elevations in rich volcanic soil at the foothills of Mt. Kenya — a unique micro-climate that produces some of the most celebrated coffees in the world.
Kenyan beans are known for their juicy acidity and tea-like delicacy, which shines through in our coffee tea bags. A lower-grade coffee in the same tea bag would be convenient, but without the right flavors embedding in the beans already, the taste would fall short.
You cite tasting notes — does that mean that your coffee is artificially flavored?
No. We use tasting notes in the same way that wineries and distillers use them. Tasting notes are occurring undertones in our bean that are influenced by the varietal and growing environment. Because we roast in small batches, we’re able to match the roasting level (light, medium, or dark) to the profile of each bean to accentuate those natural flavors.
Is your coffee ethically-sourced?
Yes, and my desire to provide ethically-sourced coffee to consumers and businesses is part of why I founded Kahawa 1893. We source directly from farmers in East African countries, including Kenya, where I grew up, and pay prices above Fair Trade requirements. We have relationships with our farmers (in fact, one of them is my mother!) and work to ensure that they’re supported both before and after the annual coffee harvest.
In particular, we’re committed to improving gender equality in the East African coffee supply chain. We ensure that the women who produce this highly-valued coffee have access to the financial rewards from those efforts. Click here to learn more.
Can they be brewed as Cold Brew?
Yes. Our coffee bags are made using a filter material that can be brewed in hot water as well as in cold water. They work perfectly for cold brew as the coffee is already in a filter, just add water and when ready, remove the coffee bags without a mess to clean-up.