The hidden value of small coffee bags

When I started drinking coffee I was buying one pound bags, years later I have multiple 100g bags in my cabinet.

When you buy small bags you’re literally getting less coffee while paying more per gram. There’s a reason people shop at Costco after all. But let me explain why, for me, small bags are worth the premium.

hidden value

One of the joys of brewing coffee at home is consistency. With some effort, you can serve your ideal coffee everyday. But as you crawl deeper into the hobby, you also crave variety.

There are so many interesting coffees to try, different processing methods, countries, varieties, even just different farms.

But a 340g bag takes a while to finish. Naturally, it feels wasteful to let coffee go stale or to throw it away, so larger bags means less variety.1

This is why I have embraced the small bag lifestyle.

less is more

Many modern roasters sell in quantities of 250g. This gives you a lot of coffee to enjoy and experiment with but each order doesn’t overstay its welcome.

And lately, I’ve dared to dip below 250, with a few bags that were around 100 to 125 grams.

Ordering a small bag size let me try three coffees from Hydrangea, a wonderful micro roastery, and experience a ton of variety.

I got an incredible washed Ethiopian, a very solid natural Ethiopian, and a wild dynamic cherry coffee from Panama.

three bags of coffee from Hydrangea coffee roasters

The latter was not my favorite, I don’t generally enjoy process-forward coffees, but I’m glad I got the chance to try it. It forced me to learn a new style of brewing, one that lessened the intensity of the process and made the cups more drinkable. And I gained a better understanding of why some people won’t stop talking about co-ferments.

If I had 340g I would be stuck with a bunch of coffee I didn’t love or I wouldn’t have taken the chance in the first place.

Smaller bags also let me try a pricier coffee from Ilse without dropping a huge sum of money. And I’m so glad I did, the Ivan Gutierrez SL-28 was one of my favorite coffees in recent memory. Sure, I wish I had even more but I didn’t know it would be my favorite until I tried it.

These days, I’m thrilled to see roasters with a four ounce size option.

what do you value?

The amount of coffee releases can be dizzying; as an agricultural product, there are always new harvests from different farms all around the world. This is wonderful for a lot of reasons but it also means deciding what to buy can be tricky.

Small bags let me experience more coffee and further my enjoyment of the hobby. Yes, it’s more expensive but coffee is too cheap as it is.

As consumers, we’re willing to spend more when we perceive value. Specialty coffee shouldn’t be a race to the bottom—roasters competing to sell the least expensive one pound blend would be antithetical. The value comes from the quality of the coffee, not to mention the amount paid to producers.

And since I’ve been buying smaller bags, I’ve experienced some of the best coffee I’ve ever had.

a bag of Neja Fadil washed from Hydrangea coffee roasters

  1. Sure, you can freeze coffee but you’ve seen my homepage, there’s only so much freezer space. ↩︎
Scroll to Top