When it comes to the wide range of coffee on the market, the instant variety is often perceived to be the inferior cousin of that which is brewed from freshly ground beans. This is due to the traditional industrial process whereby the coffee beans are transformed into soluble powder or granules.
During this process, high temperatures and pressures can destroy the unique flavours inherent to coffee beans from different regions. The roasted ground flavour associated with brewed coffee largely disappears and, ultimately, the result is a product that is not as desired by consumers.
Australian flavour specialist Flavourtech has developed a range of equipment that has revolutionised this process, allowing coffee producers to lock in the taste, aroma and volatile compounds that are typically lost in the traditional instant coffee process.
Used by ready-to-drink (RTD) tea companies for more than 20 years, the Integrated Extraction System (IES) now combines Flavourtech’s core Spinning Cone Column (SCC) technology with the Rotating Disc Column (RDC), producing a continuous, automated processing line that is ideal for instant, cold brew and RTD coffee and tea producers.
Spinning Cone Column (SCC) for a gentle extraction process
For many years, the SCC has been used in the instant coffee process to capture as much of the aroma that is left after the traditional high-temperature extraction process is complete.
In Flavourtech’s new IES), the aroma recovery step has been positioned before the extraction process, thereby protecting the delicate aroma from any high-temperature processing. For the manufacturer, the key benefit is being able to produce instant coffee that tastes like a fresh brew by retaining those natural coffee flavours, whether it is Arabica from Colombia, Guatemala or Ethiopia.
The SCC’s distinct advantage is that it uses vacuum and steam to extract and recover volatile compounds, a gentler process compared to standard methods. When the aroma and high-temperature extract are recombined at the end of the manufacturing process, the result is a coffee that tastes as though it has been freshly brewed, with the convenience of instant coffee. This is also true when using the IES for RTD coffees and cold brews, which are two of the fastest-growing beverage segments globally.
The IES is helping coffee producers across the globe to provide premium-tasting coffee. The user-friendly equipment has a small footprint and is flexible in design. Not only can it be used to produce instant and RTD coffee, but the same system can be used for instant and RTD tea.
All of this amounts to a significant step forward for the coffee industry. Instant coffee companies can now become true beverage companies with lower capital and infrastructure costs than ever before.
Rotating Disc Column (RDC) for perfect coffee particles in 20 minutes
The RDC is a precise-mixing high-temperature column that allows an operator to accurately control the residence time and temperature within the system. The RDC process ensures that each coffee particle is cut to the same size and mixed with the required amount of water.
From the bottom of the column, this slurry is then pushed up through the RDC, ensuring identical brewing time and consistency. The whole process takes just 20 minutes, providing significant time savings compared to the several-hour-long traditional extraction method.
Capture premium roasted coffee flavours with the IES
Importantly for instant coffee producers, the IES now allows the valuable flavour of the roasted coffee beans to be captured by the SCC and protected prior to the high-temperature extraction in the RDC.
For larger producers, the coffee extracts can be gently concentrated to high levels using the thin-film Centritherm evaporator that has only one-second heat contact time on the product. The protected intact flavours are then added to the concentrate prior to the drying stage.
The end result: a premium instant coffee for domestic or export markets.
Ahead of the pack
Just as the proof of the pudding is in the eating, the proof of Flavourtech’s coffee-making process is in the tasting. The next step for prospective customers is to conduct trials of their own roasted coffee at Flavourtech’s pilot plant facilities in Griffith, Australia.
Coffee is about to get much better. The Flavourtech IES system ensures that you will be leading the pack in producing the best, most flavoursome coffee.