Flavourtech offers the global coffee industry solutions to capitalise on trends towards convenience and health in the instant and RTD space.
Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, the way people consume coffee has radically shifted. The instant and ready to drink (RTD) sectors in particular have benefitted as customers move from the café into the home.
Flavourtech, a global manufacturer specialising in aroma recovery and extraction, has seen this demand grow firsthand, thanks to the popularity of its Integrated Extraction System (IES).
“There are shelves and shelves full of RTD coffee beverages either in convenience stores, fuel stations, and groceries. Also, vending machines, where it started from in Japan, providing hot or cold RTDs and with a variety of flavours, are now spreading throughout the world,” says Paul Ahn, Sales Manager at Flavourtech.
“We have seen an increase in demand [for RTD coffee], but more towards higher quality products in terms of better flavours, healthier choices, and cleaner labels. All this has been helped by people in general seeming to be more time poor, so they are looking for convenience as well when making these choices.”
Ahn adds this focus on quality can also be seen in instant coffee, despite the convenience factor playing a major part in its growing consumption.
“The demand for soluble coffee has gone up due to more people staying or being confined to their homes,” he says. “Though, they are seeking better quality coffee in terms of flavours, something that is close to the flavours of freshly brewed coffee. We now see a category called specialty instant coffee rise quickly.”
Flavourtech’s IES and its Spinning Cone Column (SCC) can capture the unique roast and ground (R&G) flavours of coffee beans through a natural process only using food grade steam. Ahn says this process allows coffee businesses to distinguish themselves from their competition by consistently providing a higher quality product.
“Flavourtech has been manufacturing systems for more than 30 years, providing coffee companies globally the best way to meet this demand,” he says.
“Flavourtech systems are designed with the customer and application in mind. Our design and engineering teams offer our customers a custom-built process to produce the highest quality RTD [and] it all starts from the raw material itself, the roasted beans, where the flavours are at their freshest and best.”
The IES comprises of four modules, working together in a continuous and automated fashion with minimal labour input.
“The IES is quite versatile, one day you can be making RTD tea, the next day it can be making RTD or soluble coffee,” Ahn says.
“The versatility also extends to the ability to capture different aroma profiles from the same raw material by simply adjusting some user settings. This feature allows the manufacturer to offer a variety of flavours to meet the target taste preference.”
The first module is the aroma capture station, consisting of a slurry preparation wet mill and the SCC. The beans are milled under a blanket of cold water, the water trapping the light desirable volatile aroma compounds during this cutting process.
“This coffee slurry is then sent through the SCC where steam is used to strip the volatile R&G notes, and then these are stored at low temperatures and protected,” Ahn explains.
“The coffee is brewed at the same time but in only 30 seconds as it travels through the column. The SCC utilises thin film technology to efficiently extract the aroma compounds as well as brew the coffee to produce the first extract which can then be used in RTD coffee.”
The second module, used only in the soluble coffee process, is a Rotating Disc Column (RDC) for a high temperature and pressure extraction phase that only takes 20 minutes, meaning less thermal impact on the extract.
The slurry then enters Module 3, which Ahn calls the clarification or polishing step, where the liquid extract is separated from the physical coffee solids.
The final module is the Centritherm, a unique thin-film system where the coffee extract is evaporated and concentrated in preparation for either spray or freeze drying.
“But before spray or freeze drying, the original and intact R&G notes captured at the beginning in Module 1, are added back to this concentrate, so as to maximise flavour retention,” Ahn says. “So, overall, whether it is RTD or instant, the flavours are more pronounced with the original R&G notes from the roasted beans.”
While the four modules work well together, Ahn says coffee businesses do not need to start with the complete solution and can build on them as they go along and when required. Flavourtech also has solutions available for coffee businesses of different needs and sizes, from small start-ups to large multinationals.
“If we look at the Spinning Cone Column, there are three models: the SCC10,000, SCC1,000 and the SCC100, the latter being a recent release into the market. Our customers who were using the larger two models were asking for a smaller system for use in research and development or smaller runs. This is where the SCC100 came from, from the demand from our customers,” Ahn says.
He adds the success of these units is demonstrated in the type of customer who tends to purchase them.
“Many of our sales are repeat business from existing customers because they see demand for their product grow,” Ahn says.
“For example, a major Asian RTD provider who already has many SCCs throughout their many plants, has recently purchased more, doubling the numbers of units as they saw a tremendous increase in product demand after implementing the technology.”
Like countless other companies around the world, Flavourtech has adapted to doing business during the COVID-19 pandemic by implementing new technologies. “Normally our team will be travelling to site for installations, commissionings and service, but due to the global pandemic and the travel restrictions imposed by governments, we had to adapt quickly,” Ahn explains. “We have adapted AR glasses to assist in these installations, commissioning and servicing, where both our customer and the Flavourtech technical and service teams are able to see in real time, what is happening at the site.”
With many coffee roasters seeing the growth of the instant and RTD market and thinking about expanding their product portfolio, Ahn says it’s a natural progression to provide a higher quality products.
“Coffee roasters take such pride in their work. To them, it is both an art and science in producing roasted beans full of flavour,” he says.
“We are seeing the rise of specialty instant coffee, and as the demand increases, so must production. We can help here by providing a means to do so on a commercial scale and with consistency.”
Ahn says convenience will continue to be a driving force for the coffee industry in 2022, and it will be joined by a continuation towards more natural and healthy products.
“In Europe, there are changes happening where labelling of food and beverages is stricter – if the flavour is from a fruit, then it must come from that fruit. We see more and more large grocery stores having dedicated isles with products stating higher health, more organic and more natural,” he says.
“We will continue to help our customers adapt quickly to the changes and help them grow with demand. Our systems are all about natural, capturing the natural aromas, flavours, colour, and bioactives from the product itself through a gentle yet efficient process.”
For more information, visit www.flavourtech.com
This article was first published in the March/April 2022 edition of Global Coffee Report. Read more HERE.