IMA Coffee discusses the launch of IMA Coffee Lab, a scaled-down plant open to customers, featuring the latest processing and packaging technologies.
Imagine a coffee processing and packaging plant that could handle every phase of the process at a company’s disposal, a plant that could test the best engineering technologies and innovations for the coffee industry.
IMA Coffee has turned that dream into a reality, creating IMA Coffee Lab, a unique centre open to all customers and coffee processing companies seeking professional advice and innovative solutions. It houses a fully functioning pilot plant covering all handling, processing, and packaging stages.
More than a showroom where customers can appreciate the extent of IMA Coffee’s expertise, Nicola Panzani, Strategic Director of IMA Coffee Lab, says it is a place to experiment solutions and gain a tangible overview of an entire plant.
“Customers are invited to come and test their own coffee at any step of the process or run a complete processing and packaging test through the pilot plant. This includes solutions for green coffee intake or storage, cleaning and sorting, weighing, handling and conveying, roasting, grinding, degassing with aroma protection using nitrogen, and coffee bag and capsule packaging,” says Panzani.
Located at the IMA Coffee Petroncini facility between Bologna and Ferrara in northern Italy, the Coffee Lab covers 3000 square metres and will be the starting point for many new products and research and development solutions dedicated to the coffee industry.
Panzani says the key benefit of having a single source for handling, processing, and packaging is the single supplier approach, and IMA Coffee Lab explores all stages in an integrated fashion, including intake and storage.
“This is followed by each processing phase from roasting to grinding and completed with the three packaging stages: primary, secondary and end-of-line. This allows customers to appreciate and adapt any step of the process to achieve their desired result,” Panzani says.
The Coffee Lab houses an on-site Analysis Laboratory that takes care of testing green coffee, roasted coffee, and ground coffee for key parameters such as humidity levels or weight loss.
“This allows visiting companies to make several tests and gather vital information to help make the right decisions before defining the details of each machine,” says Panzani.
Panzani says one of the main benefits of the new IMA Coffee organisation is comprehensive selection of coffee-oriented services accessible, such as tailored engineering solutions that can be defined and tested inside the pilot plant.
“Research and development projects can be used to test and develop customers’ packaging materials on the machines, while full consultancy services are also available to examine and discuss processing and packaging aspects. Quality analyses and in-cup tasting services are offered, along with turnkey solutions for complete processing and packaging lines from a single supplier,” Panzani says.
“We also have a global presence with sales representatives that are able to arrange Lab visits, and a technical Coffee Academy to train and acquire specific skills related to coffee processing.”
Panzani says the IMA Coffee Academy is one of the most engaging ways to increase all skills related to the coffee processing sector.
“Here, representatives of companies visiting the Lab will be able to attend short learning sessions to gain more expertise in green coffee analysis, roasting techniques, and in-cup sensorial analysis,” he says.
“Following the [Specialty Coffee Association] certification modules is one way, but we also encourage visitors to adhere to a personalised training program, which can be coordinated with the training staff.”
Specialist technicians are also available on a permanent basis at the Lab to provide visiting companies with valuable advice and technical details covering all aspects of the machines and packaging solutions available.
Panzani says IMA Coffee’s vast experience in packaging solutions is supported by Open Lab, another IMA laboratory, which researches sustainable alternatives by developing exclusive packaging materials.
“Capsule resistance can also be tested physically at the laboratory and IMA Coffee technicians are available to guide companies in their choice of materials. Customers are also encouraged to run trials on their own packaging materials at the pilot plant,” he says.
According to Panzani, working together on the plant configuration for each business enables IMA Coffee to adapt key features according to specific customer needs.
“Ultimately, the goal is to provide all the answers needed to create an integrated processing and packaging line which will maximise production efficiency, performance, and achieve the required product quality,” says Panzani.
“As a working, scaled-down plant covering the majority of equipment involved in the entire production process, it is an environment which enables visitors to examine all aspects closely, run numerous trials and obtain immediate answers.”
To complete the initiative which brings IMA Coffee closer to the market and its key players, IMA Coffee has also opened a spin-off of the Italian-based IMA Coffee Lab at the IMA Coffee North America facility in Massachusetts, United States.
“Along with additional local services and technical assistance, a team of after-sales technicians are present and able to offer qualified assistance for the North American market at the spinoff coffee lab,” Panzani says.
IMA Coffee Hub has become a destination for global roasters, and according to Panzani, it is the broadest technical and commercial business serving the coffee processing and packaging industry today.
“IMA Coffee Hub is the ideal starting point from where you will reach your destination. This is precisely the benefit the coffee industry obtains from IMA Coffee, just one supplier, already coordinated from within,” says Panzani.
Panzani says it’s important to IMA Coffee that it reaches every corner of the coffee handling, processing, and packaging universe, and can now address any issue facing coffee producers with the IMA Coffee Lab.
“Today’s IMA Coffee Lab is more than a logical consequence of a winning approach to the industry. It represents an opportunity for all companies interested in addressing the needs of a global market to interact with a leader in the field and evolve through the technologies IMA brings into play,” says Panzani.
“IMA Coffee invites coffee industry partners to discover the benefits of the new Coffee Lab with a view to enhancing their performance in a fast-moving sector.”
For more information, visit www.ima.it/coffee.
This article was first published in the November/December 2022 edition of Global Coffee Report. Read more HERE.