What's a “Coffee Tea Bag"?

What are “coffee tea bags” and why did we create them? In today’s blog post, I share the motivation story behind our newest product 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 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?

My goal in creating coffee tea bags was to preserve the aroma and taste of freshly-brewed coffee; I wasn’t interested in producing them if I couldn’t meet that goal. Oxygen is what makes ground coffee go stale, so if you can prevent oxidation, you can preserve freshness in coffee. Our coffee tea bags are nitrogen-sealed individually as soon as they are ground to keep the oxygen out and freshness in. When you open one of our coffee bags, give it a sniff — it’ll smell like it’s just come out of the grinder.

Why is it superior to K-cups?

There are four main differentiators.

#1: Any single serve option will only be a good as the coffee you start with. We use high-grade specialty coffee in our bags, and coffee of this grade makes up less than 1% of all coffee produced worldwide.

#2: We use 50% more coffee per single serve bag when compared to K-cups, resulting in a stronger and more flavorful cup.

#3: Our coffee bags are made of high quality material that can accommodate flavor complexity beyond what K-cups’ plastic shells can brew.

#4: On the topic of plastic, our coffee tea bags are 100% compostable — down to the ink — while K-cups are made from plastic that can’t be reused or composted. We’re proud to offer a sustainable alternative.

Are coffee tea bags the same as instant coffee?

Not at all. Instant coffee has been previously brewed and then dehydrated to form crystals that you then re-hydrate with hot water prior to drinking. The aroma is also or added back. Our coffee tea bags contain freshly-ground coffee that has not been brewed. We’re able to preserve the taste without sacrificing convenience.

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 on your packaging and on your website — does that mean that your coffee is artificially flavored?

No; we don’t — and have no plans to — artificially flavor our coffee. 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.

Where are your coffee tea bags made?

The coffee inside of our tea bags is sourced from Kenya, roasted locally in Berkeley, California, and then packaged in Santa Cruz, California in partnership with a company called Steeped Coffee.

Where can I buy them?

Our coffee tea bags are available on Amazon and on our website (www.kahawa1893.com).


 Margaret Nyamumbo, Founder & CEO

Maggy Nyamumbo