Neuhaus Neotec makes waves in the United States

Neuhaus Neotec and Devex have turned their attention to the United States market, where they can offer roasters flexible, high-quality, and complete soluble coffee solutions.

For more than 50 years, Neuhaus Neotec has made waves in the coffee industry with its unique rotational flex batch (RFB) hot air roasting system.

Working with leading companies around the world, from Italy to Vietnam, has provided the German manufacturer with insight into upcoming trends and how different markets are developing. Neuhaus Neotec Head of Marketing Lars Henkel says the company has also been able to identify gaps in the market for new and integrated technical solutions.

“Today, RFB is synonymous with highly efficient roasting without compromise in product quality and aroma. Utilising our roaster’s flexibility, it is possible to produce all varieties of coffee from filter coffee to traditional espresso as well as roasting for soluble coffee extraction processes,” Henkel says.

“Some years ago, [the Behrmann family, owners of the umbrella organisation Kahl Group] identified the growing market for soluble coffee products and decided to integrate the company Devex into their stable.”

Specialising in extraction and concentration processes, Devex is well positioned to meet the needs of the coffee industry for soluble coffee and ready to drink hot or cold brew production. 

Devex’s wide body extraction technology guarantees a green yield of one kilogram of instant coffee per 2.1 kilograms of green Robusta beans. Its features include short cycle times for superior extract quality, flexible extraction configurations for high extract concentrations and minimal water and energy consumption, and triple aroma processing for the creation of unique flavour profiles.

Alongside extraction expertise, Devex offers a high level of capability in spray drying and high-volume freeze drying, with the ability to develop both batch and continuous tray-based freeze-drying plants.

Scott McQuiston is the Director of Technical Services at Neuhaus Neotec.

Ulrich Nieße, Managing Director of Devex, says there are many synergies between Devex and Neuhaus Neotec, from technological compatibility to quality and considerations of product design.

“Having few internal moving parts, our batch and continuous tray-based freeze-drying plants requiring minimum maintenance. At the same time, they feature robust designs with high production capacity, with load and unload capability of up to 144 product trays simultaneously,” Nieße says.

“Thanks to our close cooperation with Neuhaus Neotec, both companies have gained several prestigious orders and become key players for the soluble coffee industry, in both instant coffee and cold brew or hot brew liquid coffee segments.”

With reaffirmed footing in the European and Asian markets, Neuhaus Neotec has sharpened its focus on another key market for the manufacturer: the United States.

Already, the manufacturer has made deals to supply several large roasting systems within the next two years to one of America’s largest and best-known coffee brands.

“With a more integrated approach, Devex and Neuhaus Neotec plan to capitalise on recent successes with cold brew producers, leveraging both companies’ expertise to deliver complete solutions for customers in traditional coffee,” Henkel says.

To bring this plan into fruition, Neuhaus Neotec recruited coffee industry veteran Scott McQuiston as its Director of Technical Services in August 2020. McQuiston joined the Kahl Group’s team in the US, alongside several technical engineers, service technicians, and sales representative David Kramer.

With more than 25 years of experience in the coffee industry, McQuiston has worked for leading companies like Kraft and Starbucks, where he led many significant coffee projects involving soluble solutions. 

McQuiston tells Global Coffee Report he has enjoyed being part of a tightknit company.

“I’ve always worked for big companies, which can be a little bit impersonal. I appreciate working for a family-owned company with a more intimate environment,” he says.

“Part of our vision for Neuhaus Neotec is to bring that personal contact to the customer.”

McQuiston sees huge potential for both companies in the North American market, where Devex can play off the high regard held for Neuhaus Neotec.

“Neuhaus Neotec is respected for their very novel technology. RFB may be more than 50 years old now, but it’s still a unique technology in the US, where it’s supported by the mystique and quality German engineering is known for,” McQuiston says.

“I’d describe the other big roasting manufacturers as the Mercedes of roasting, while I think we’re more like the Audi: younger and more technology driven.” 

Combining the capabilities of the two businesses also creates a point of difference in the market, one McQuiston wishes was available to him while working for Starbucks.

“Around 2015, we were looking for a supplier of soluble extraction equipment and had to go with multiple vendors for the spray drier, extractors, evaporators, and roaster,” McQuiston says.

“It worked fine, but had Devex been a part of the Kahl Group back then, they would have been the ideal partners. They could’ve provided the complete solution from green bean intake through to finished powder.”

McQuiston says there are two major applications for soluble solutions in the coffee sector. The obvious one is convenience, where consumers are looking for quick, easy, and functional products.

The second, and more exciting to McQuiston, is their potential as an ingredient in other products.

“We can innovate with that finished powder, because it gives food and beverage companies not used to brewing coffee or handling spent coffee grounds the opportunity to play in the coffee game,” he says.

“A lot of innovation comes out of the US and it’s important to provide a platform for that. For example, cold brew is a hot trend right now, and if someone could produce an instant cold brew product using our equipment, I think they could create a successful business.”

McQuiston says traditional drip filter used to outsell coffee outsold cold brew, but that has now changed. He adds, however, that while cold brew is on the rise in America for now, it might not be forever. So, equipment suppliers need to offer solutions that are adaptive to different demands.

“The US is such a diverse country, and different parts of the country are looking for different things. The market also changes very fast, so what you need to provide today is flexibility,” he says. “Flexibility is what you get when you buy a Neuhaus Neotec roaster. You can do a very short or long roast, light or dark roast, and you can do it all with energy efficiency.

“For Devex, flexibility means we’ve got to be able to extract more than just coffee. We need to have applications for beverages using tea, herbs, or seeds, and the legalisation of cannabis has opened up new opportunities. If I used to make cold brew and now want to make a cannabis product, I want my existing equipment to be able to do that. Devex is uniquely positioned in the industry to offer that.”

To ensure they can continue to provide solutions for new industry developments, Neuhaus Neotec and Devex have built a joint innovation centre at the former’s headquarter in Ganderkesee, Germany. Henkel says the complete pilot plant allows customers to trial tools and technology for roasting, grinding, extraction, freeze drying, and analysis, all with access to inhouse experts.

“Considering the singular successes of both companies, Neuhaus Neotec and Devex are determined to strengthen cooperation to benefit their customers,” Henkel says.

“The coronavirus pandemic is impacting businesses worldwide. However, Neuhaus Neotec and Devex, as part of the Kahl Group, are committed to investing in the future
to realise our claims as the ‘go-to organisations’ for soluble coffee, and other new and novel products.”

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