Countries such as Colombia, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Ethiopia and Indonesia are well known for their premium quality highly aromatic coffee. It is well recognised that these countries produce highly aromatic coffee beans, however it is often observed that when processed to soluble coffee the final product is often lacking the full origin flavours that the beans are recognised for.
Leon Skaliotis, General Manager for Flavourtech PTY LTD believes that “…the future for soluble coffee producers is the ability to be able to accurately capture the unique qualities that define the original coffee source. In Latin America and other high-quality growing regions this is particularly important in differentiating their product in the global market place. It is for this purpose that the Flavourtech Integrated Extraction System (IES) was developed.”
The IES is a unique and innovative approach to producing soluble coffee which starts with producing a slurry from which are extracted the delicate and unique roasted and ground aromas. This is then followed by conducting a soluble solids extraction followed by a further step of clarification and concentration of the extract. The fresh Roasted and Ground aromas are then added back to the concentrated extract immediately prior to the drying step producing a soluble coffee whose aroma is indicative of the origin of the coffee.
Traditional soluble coffee manufacturing on the other hand involves subjecting fresh beans with light and delicate aromas, to high temperatures and pressures for extended periods of time. This effectively destroys or eliminates the unique and delicate flavours and aromas which are traditionally associated with coffee.
The Flavourtech approach starts with a Wet Milling step where the freshly roasted coffee beans are wet ground into a consistent slurry. This step enables the most volatile aromas to be captured by the next step in the process which is the Flavourtech Spinning Cone Column (SCC).
The SCC is the first stage of the process where extraction of soluble solids and aroma recovery of the fresh and natural roasted and ground aromas take place simultaneously. The coffee slurry flows down a series of alternating spinning cones and up stationary cones. This creates a thin film which continues down the column. Steam is injected in a counter current direction. This highly turbulent steam is in contact with the slurry for the length of the column, resulting in very efficient mass transfer of aromas from the slurry into the steam.
This aroma rich steam is condensed into a concentrated aroma and stored in a cooled tank to protect it. Meanwhile, the aroma “stripped” slurry that has undergone a first stage extraction proceeds to the next stage of extraction. This aroma recovery and first stage of extraction takes only 30 seconds!
What makes the SCC unique is its ability to enable the capture of desirable aromas. Operating conditions can be easily adjusted, enabling coffees from different regions to be processed in a manner that highlights the unique differences of each region, and as such it is possible to create premium soluble coffees from premium locations that are of a quality that rival freshly brewed products. This in turn allows manufacturers to tailor their final soluble coffee for their intended markets allowing them to attain greater market share.
The dearomatised slurry is then fed to the next stage in Flavourtech’s IES process, the Rotating Disc Column (RDC). The RDC is a plug flow reactor that has been designed to carry out the hydrolysis step of the process in a very short time. The slurry, which has had its delicate and desirable sensitive aroma components removed, is then subject to temperatures of up to 180oC for soluble solids extraction to take place.
The RDC differs from traditional cell extraction systems in that the total residence time is only 20 minutes and the product is processed on a truly continuous basis. Traditional 7 cell extraction systems hold the coffee at high temperatures for 6 cycles of 20 – 50 minutes per cell in a batch type process. Generally, one cell will be recharging while the other 6 are operating on product. The shorter residence time of the RDC at 20 minutes compared to multi cell residence times of possibly greater than two hours ensures the extract is of a much higher quality when processed through the IES.
After the RDC the slurry and spent coffee grounds are separated via a decanter and centrifuged ready for concentration. Concentration can take place using Flavourtech’s Centritherm® evaporator for the highest possible quality concentration. The Centritherm reduces the heat contact time of the product to just 1 second at only 50oC. The combination of a very short residence time and low temperature ensures that there are no changes caused by thermal degradation to the product. The Centritherm also enables the extract to be concentrated up to 60 – 70Brix. These high concentrations both reduce the energy consumption of the spray drier and enable better aroma retention in the final powder.
The Flavourtech IES brings to the soluble coffee industry a completely new approach to producing high quality competitively priced instant coffee. In soluble coffee processing where a broad range of high quality and distinctly different raw materials are available, Flavourtech’s IES enables manufacturers to produce unique and differentiated products that can be customized to different market preferences. Among its many other benefits, the IES allows manufacturers to highlight the unique regional characteristics that make coffee such as that from Latin America, Indonesia, India and Africa so interesting.
Contact Flavourtech today to find out more about the IES or to run a trial on your coffee beans www.flavourtech.com