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Voyage of the humble jute sack

Voyage of the humble jute sack

When we think of how green coffee (raw beans) is transported, those wonderful, boldly printed jute sacks immediately come to mind. Often, they are adorned with a strong and colourful motif: they make sought-after decorations for trendy coffee shops, or re-emerge in the guise of upcycled shopping bags and similar products. But the jute sack is not just attractive to behold. It plays an indispensable role in the coffee trade.

Here are seven exciting facts about jute sacks that you may not know:

  1. A 'bag' or 'coffee bag', is the official measurement unit for coffee beans – and is traditionally made of jute.
  2. Depending on the country of origin, jute bags may have a capacity of 50 kg, 60 kg, 69 kg or 70 kg of coffee beans.
  3. Green coffee retains its freshness inside the jute bag, since the beans are able to 'breathe' and air can circulate.
  4. It takes the beans from around 100 Arabic coffee trees to fill a sack with 69 kg of green coffee. A coffee tree produces only one to two pounds of beans every year.
  5. In Brazil, the largest coffee producer in the world, more than 10 million jute sacks are used for coffee shipments. This has lead to the existence of 15 factories producing jute sacking.
  6. If the coffee is an especially valuable crop, extra protection during transport can be afforded by the 'Grain Pro' sack - a special, multi-layered bag. Once filled with green coffee, the Grain Pro is then put into a jute bag for transport.
  7. Jute bags are loaded onto ships in large containers. The containers can take between 275 to 320 bags of raw coffee. They will be travelling the high seas for several weeks before arriving at their destination port.

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