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Coffee Bags – A craft project waiting for you?

Posted by on June 23, 2013

Here on the Red Rooster Coffee blog we often talk about the technicalities of coffee – how to store it; the reason for the foam head on the coffee, and more.

For today though, since the roastery is filling up with the large bags that our green coffee beans come in I thought I’d take a diversion and look at what some creative people do with these bags.  Maybe you’d like to take on a similar project and we’re glad to provide the bags to you free of charge.  Just give us a call to see what we’ve got available.

First off let’s take a look at the bags themselves.  Here in Ireland I usually hear the term ‘burlap’ given as the name of the fabric used to make the bags.  That’s common in America too, but on the continent it is often called ‘Hessian cloth’ and the term ‘gunny sack’ is synonymous with ‘burlap bag’ and ‘hessian sack’.

If you can conjure up the lyrics of the old Chuck Berry song Johnny B. Goode you’ll remember that ‘Johnny used to carry his guitar in a gunny sack’.

The bags are made primarily of jute and sisal although some polypropylene bags are starting to be seen.  Jute is a plant grown primarily in Asia, with production mainly centered in India’s state of Bengal, and the adjoining country, Bangladesh.  Jute has a bambooish look to it.  After harvesting and drying it is then processed into fabric.

Sisal comes from a much different looking plant and is grown in many different places but main production comes from countries in South America and Africa and some Caribbean island nations.  Sisal got it’s name from the port of Sisal in the Yucatan, Mexico, although no sisal plants grow in Sisal itself.

These two renewable sources produce a heavy fabric with a diverse, almost unlimited use potential.  Let’s examine just a few.

THROW RUG: Here you can find quite a comprehensive tutorial on making a throw rug out of a coffee bag — http://maidenjane.blogspot.no/2010/09/unique-coffee-bag-rug-tutorial.html

PLANTER POT: The ingenious blogger at Apartment Therapy champions the use of empty coffee bags as planters.  If you love gardening but aren’t a huge fan of plastic pots this could be the answer for you.  To make the burlap ‘pots’ all you need is a burlap bag and scissors.  Read about it here: http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/how-to-make-coffee-bag-planter-151432.  And this website also has several uses of these sacks in your garden with maybe a bit more practical advice: http://www.homegrownfun.com/how-to-use-burlap-sacks-in-garden/

PILLOWS: Lot’s of folks make pillows with the empty coffee bean bags.  You can find lots of examples of this on the web.  Here’s one blogger’s step-by-step guide which we’ve referenced mainly because we have the exact same Colombian coffee bag she uses in her tutorial: http://www.beyondthescreendoor.com/2012/01/burlap-coffee-sack-pillow.html

DOG BED: Because of their size a burlap bag make a good dog bed for medium to large dogs.  Our dog loves it but because he’s a Labrador and has never outgrown his desire to eat everything his bed often ends up in tatters.  That probably wouldn’t be the case with you.  While this website doesn’t offer a tutorial because they are selling their dog beds, if you’re at all handy with a sewing machine this picture will tell you the whole story of how they do it.  Or you can simply stuff the bag and sew the open end closed.  http://www.burlyjoetrading.com/products/dog-beds

MORE STUFF: And chosen at random, although you can find several similar websites, is an eclectic mix of projects – burlap covered headboards; upholstered chairs covered in burlap; burlap matting used in picture framing; burlap covered pinup information boards and so much more.  So you’ll get a lot of good ideas here: http://www.itsoverflowing.com/2012/05/creative-home-decor-and-craft-projects/ , and I found a zillion more on Pinterest but I’m sure you can come up with plenty of original ideas on your own.

Get creative and have some fun.  And if you do make some original creations – with bags from us or another coffee roaster – send us a picture so we can post it here.

Now go to it!

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