The Australian company’s Integrated Extraction System is delivering a premium boost to ready-to-drink coffee products and instant coffee.
For more than 35 years, Flavourtech has been assisting manufacturers around the world to produce the best quality products by developing systems that capture natural flavours and active ingredients.
The Australian manufacturer of food and beverage process systems has helped produce products like instant coffee, ready-to-drink (RTD) coffee and tea, as well as low and no-alcohol wines and beers. But it has noticed a significant shift in the coffee products with customers demanding a much higher quality of flavour in their instant and RTD beverages.
Paul Ahn, Global Sales Manager of Flavourtech says RTD and instant coffee manufacturers around the world have been asking Flavourtech to assist with the “premiumisation” of this sector. This is a trend that has been driven, in part, by the global pandemic when people forced to work from home wanted the same quality coffee as they were used to at a café, leading to Euromonitor listing premiumisation as a Global Megatrend in early 2021.
In particular, Flavourtech’s clients did not feel that the natural roast and ground notes of coffee beans were making it into their final products.
“These notes were in the roasted beans, the raw material itself, but unfortunately were lacking by the time it reached the end product,” Ahn says.
“Our Integrated Extraction System (IES), has been developed with this in mind, that is, to produce the highest quality product for the ultimate benefit to the consumer through the ability to capture the desirable, single-origin notes, while undergoing a more gentle extraction process, and then place back the captured notes for a full- flavoured coffee experience.”
Flavourtech realised early on that the best way to obtain the best from products, whether it be flavour or active ingredients, is from processing the raw material where it is freshest and best, straight from the roasted beans. Its process involves capturing these notes as early as possible, storing and protecting them, by utilising much shorter residence times to reduce the thermal impact and so maintain the quality.
Flavourtech’s core technology is the Spinning Cone Column (SCC), used to capture the notes from the roasted beans via the use of clean, food-grade steam. Ahn says the SCC captures aromas and flavours at a lower temperature and with shorter residence times than standard extraction technologies. Ahn says this process produces a high quality product and ensures that the natural aroma and active ingredients of the raw material are retained.
These natural notes are then placed back at the end of the process, intact, not damaged in any way from the rest of the manufacturing process, to provide the highest quality instant or RTD coffee. This means that the single- origin flavours of the coffee, such as those found in Ethiopian, Colombian or Guatemalan beans, are retained and can be tasted in the final instant coffee.
IES deep dive
The Flavourtech IES process assists instant coffee producers to maintain the flavours from the raw material with the ability to control temperature, thus reducing the thermal impact of the coffee. The unique processing involves:
- Milling roasted coffee beans under a blanket of cold water through the Slurry Preparation Module. Water acts as a carrier for volatile aroma components and carries with the slurry to Flavourtech’s SCC.
- Brewing or extraction temperatures of 100°C occur in the SCC, for only 30 seconds. The slurry, consisting of the beans and water all pass through from the top of the column to the bottom in 30 seconds, steam is used to brew the coffee as well as strip out the natural aroma from the beans and slurry where it leaves the SCC, condensed and stored in a chilled vessel. These are the natural and desirable notes.
- After the SCC, if further high-temperature extraction is required then Flavourtech’s Rotating Disc Column (RDC) can help to further extract the solids. The time of extraction is only 20 minutes compared to traditional processes that can take hours. The process involves rotating baffles and a continuous flow of the coffee slurry, all performed post the SCC where the roast and grind flavour notes have been previously removed.
- The slurry then enters a Clarification Module to separate the coffee beans from the aqueous extract.
This extract can then be used for RTD with the natural flavours added back to produce a full-flavoured beverage or can be concentrated through Flavourtech’s unique Centritherm evaporator (CT) to produce a concentrate. The CT has only one second heat contact time on the product. The low-evaporation temperature of 50°C means no damage occurs to the tea/ coffee colour, bioactives or the flavours. The coffee concentrate can also be mixed with the aroma and spray or freeze dried to produce a powder.
“Initially, we developed the IES with RTD customers in mind,” Ahn says. “At the same time, coffee manufacturers around the world were looking to automate the traditional, manual batch process to create RTD solutions, we knew we would make an imprint with our IES.”
Ahn says manufacturing space is alway at a premium and so also must be considered. Flavourtech’s design and engineering teams offer clients a custom-built process.
“No two systems are the same. Our bespoke IES process begins with the customer in mind and is key to our success and ultimately, to our customer’s success,” Ahn says.
The IES can also handle cold-brew coffee quickly, is automated and continuously producing consistent results.
Ahn says premiumisation not only offers more choice to the consumer but it also offers a higher quality of product, better nutrition, and better flavours.
“Consumers are seeking healthier, more flavoursome, more natural food and beverage options, which overall is a good direction to take,” says Ahn. “They are willing to pay more for higher quality as long as they feel the value in it.”
The customer’s desire for ethical, natural and high-quality products, plus their purchasing power have all contributed to innovation in this category.
“We have seen many flavour companies approach us recently for a way to capture the natural aroma from coffee, tea, fruits and botanicals,” Ahn says.
But that does not mean that Flavourtech is resting on its laurels. The company has a strong innovation culture.
The history of Flavourtech began from innovation. A government research organisation in Australia was exploring ways to separate volatiles from liquids in an endeavour to improve the quality of beverages. From this came Flavourtech’s SCC technology and the first module of the IES. Ahn says the SCC is recognised as “the technology of choice” when it comes to the capture of natural flavours such as from coffee, tea, fruits, vegetables, spices and botanicals.
“We have to keep innovating, developing new applications and technologies to meet our customer needs,” says Ahn. “One of these is the recently released SCC100, a smaller sibling to the existing larger units, brought about from listening to our customer’s requests for a smaller scale unit. We are extremely proud of this SCC100, the design and engineering was a challenge but with sheer determination and a strive to innovate, we got there in the end.” GCR
For more information, visit Flavourtech.com
This article was first published in the September/October 2022 edition of Global Coffee Report. Read more HERE.