Grand Rapids, Michigan-based canning equipment maker Oktober Design has rolled out a variation of its Model 8 automatic can seamer called the Model 8-H, designed specifically for canning freshly roasted whole bean coffee.
Targeting smaller specialty coffee companies whose production levels fall shy of what’s often required for industrial canning, the Oktober Design Model 8-H is a compact, plug-and-play solution designed for front or back-of-house operations at coffee shops and roasteries.
The 8-H machine tooling affixes a valved foil lid to steel 401 diameter cans fully automatically, with no manual intervention apart from pressing one button.
On Oktober’s website, the company currently offers unlabeled and labeled can options for coffee roasters, while also pointing to compatible solutions from other suppliers such as Roastar and Container Supply.
While Roastar made a splash with the launch of digitally printed tin cans for the coffee industry last year, California-based Container Supply first approached Oktober with the idea for a coffee-focused seamer solution about five years ago. Container Supply and Oktober showed off the device from a shared booth at the recent 2023 SCA Expo in Portland. (See more coffee tools and accessories unveiled at the show).
“[The can] just stands out more than the bag, because everybody’s in a bag, and nobody’s in a can,” Container Supply Sales Representative Brit Stark told Daily Coffee News in Portland. “We reached out to Oktober because we’ve been making cans for 75 years, and until Oktober came along, there was no way for us let a smaller roaster get into canning cans without a machine that was designed to do millions of cans at a time.”
Coffee’s canning renaissance comes as quality-focused roasters seek new ways to differentiate products on the shelf. Cans also offer a naturally classic look, reminiscent of the cans of coffee’s earliest large-scale purveyors following the industrial revolution.
Container Supply Sales and Marketing Director Joe Rider told DCN that while cans, foil lids and one-way degassing valves have all been available for decades, the combination of these elements has typically been out of reach of smaller roasters due to costs associated with bulk production.
Oktober Design launched its first small manually operated can seamer in 2016, targeting home brewers, kombucha makers, cold brew coffee makers, cafes and bars seeking to offer canned beverages to go.
After setting its sites on coffee roasters alongside Container Supply, the company then worked with early adopters — including California-based Moon Goat Coffee, Minnesota’s Almanac Coffee and Arizona’s Provision Coffee — to work out the finer points.
“[These roasters] helped us really understand how all of it goes together,” said Rider. “The goal always in mind was to provide an option for specialty coffee to be able to use a can.”
The Model 8-H equipped with coffee can tooling is currently for sale starting at $3,600. Tooling sets for sealing standard 12-16-ounce beverage cans, 32-ounce crowlers and other styles of cans are available for $370 per set.
“We’ve done a bunch of testing with flavor profile longevity, and shown that it keeps [coffee] fresher for longer,” Oktober Can Seamers Founder and CEO and Dennis Grumm told DCN. “We’ve been selling [seamers] to places doing cold brew since the very beginning, but this is our first coffee trade show, and it’s been a big success so far. It’s all brand new for us, but we’re pretty stoked.”
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Howard Bryman is the associate editor of Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine. He is based in Portland, Oregon.