Founded in 1854, Ellis Coffee is one of the oldest family-owned and operated coffee roasters in the US. Today, the third and fourth generations of the Strauss family run a company that roasts more than 6 million pounds of coffee per year, which it distributes nationwide to businesses of all sizes. Headquartered in Philadelphia, the company is dedicated to quality and customer service, which has given it an especially strong presence along the Eastern seaboard from New York to Maryland.

“Our dedication to customer service is a key ingredient to our success,” says Adam Kestenbaum, president of Ellis Coffee. The combination of high-quality coffee and customer service is supported by an efficient roasting and packaging operation. “We aim to eliminate unnecessary costs from our business to pass more value on to our customers,” adds Kestenbaum.

That initiative manifested in a $1 million investment in a new green bean blending system, the upgrade of five augers to new servo models and the purchase of a new vertical form/fill/seal (VFFS) bagger from Bosch Packaging Technology. “We needed a VFFS bagger that could run faster to meet our growing demand for one- to three-ounce bags. Plus, it had to be easy to use,” says Craig Chauncey, plant manager at Ellis Coffee. 

The company packages coffee under the Ellis brand, but almost half its business is from co-packing for private labels, making the bagger’s ease of use essential. Chauncey notes co-packing is becoming increasingly complex, with the rising demand for specialty packaging formats, more complex films and a wider range of seasonal and specialty coffee blends. Consequently, as many as six to seven changeovers may be required per eight-hour shift. To create the efficiencies the business needs, downtime between changeovers must be minimized while maintaining packaging speeds.

“We have a few different VFFS bagger brands currently running in the plant,” says Chauncey, “but with all of them, there have been problems ranging from the availability of parts to ease of use. As a result, I asked around, and other manufacturers raved about Bosch baggers.” Chauncey visited another manufacturer that uses Bosch baggers and was impressed with the machines, spurring him to purchase a Bosch SVE 2520 continuous motion bagger.

“Bosch has a simple, clean design,” says Chauncey. “It is right sized, from a lean process standpoint, and does what we want it to do. The base machine includes 95 percent of what we want without added complexity, and Bosch offers the other options we need.”

Ellis Coffee installed the Bosch bagger, which now reaches speeds as high as 130 bags per minute compared to the 70 bags per minute the company’s other machines were achieving.

“The registration is spot on, it’s easy to clean with open access through the guard doors, and best of all, it’s easy to use,” Chauncey says.

The operator now using the Bosch bagger is a long-time Ellis employee nearing retirement, so Chauncey was a little worried about how she would react to the new machine.  “She loves it,” he says. “She picked up the machine operation very quickly. With the intuitive touchscreen menu, she can simply select a new recipe, and most of the changes are done automatically.”

For more information: Paul Garms, 715-246-6511,,