When it comes to the production of instant coffee, Andreas Juerss, Marketing Manager for Neuhaus Neotec, says there are no half-measures. With such highly sophisticated technology making up an extensive production line, a soluble coffee factory needs to keep running without any downtime. Any interruption can lead to devastating profitability loss. “The production of instant coffee is designed as a continuous process,” he says. “The uniform and continuous supply of the extraction plant with roasted coffee is one of the prerequisites for this process.” Juerss says this need for reliable equipment has made Neuhaus Neotec’s Rotating Fluidised Bed (RFB) equipment a popular choice among major instant coffee manufacturers. The RFB roaster ensures gentle roasting via an optimum flow of hot air through the coffee product. As the name of the technology implies, uniform fluidisation is key to ensuring the best possible mixing of beans and gentle heat transfer throughout the roasting process. Because the heat is transferred to the beans via convection, there are considerably less hot spots in the coffee. A major advantage of this equipment, in thinking of the operation of a factory floor, is its lack of moving parts. As a result, the machine requires minimal maintenance. “This is very helpful in a production line. It means the roaster is always available,” says Juerss. The RFB system is designed with identical, but separate, heating and cooling chambers. The discharge gate is located at the bottom of the roasting chamber, meaning that gravity alone helps discharge the entire roasted coffee batch within seconds into the cooler. By separating the cooling process, the machine cools the coffee quickly and effectively. This design also lends itself well to the requirements of a highly efficient roasting operation. “With this design, you really have the advantage of a continuous process,” he says. “You can have coffee cooling in one chamber, while another batch is roasting in another. There’s no disadvantage of conventional roasting machines, where you have to wait 10 or 15 minutes for the coffee to cool down, or for the machine to warm up for the first batch.” The roasting and cooling chamber designs have certainly proven helpful for Dorothee Kunke, Director Business Unit Coffee & Sweetener for Dr. Otto Suwelack Nachf. GmbH & Co. “For us, a world-renowned manufacturer of instant coffee, precise roasting is important, because it is essential for a good extractability of the roasted coffee during subsequent processing,” says Kunke. “To achieve this, we rely on the RFB technology of Neuhaus Neotec with the separation of the roasting and cooling chamber. With this method, the medium-long roasting time which we apply for our coffee is finished at a precisely definite time.” In addition to efficiency, Neuhaus Neotec’s RFB roaster is also highly effective at delivering consistent coffee roasted to the specific requirements of the instant coffee sector, which often needs a higher level of moisture content. Thanks to the RFB’s direct heat transfer of the hot air to the beans, the roasting process is particularly efficient at delivering higher moisture content in given roasting times. “Traditionally, the roaster is able to define the moisture content by temperature and length of the roasting time. Thanks to RFB technology, we can adjust the air-to-bean ratio, and can offer several degrees of moisture control, without affecting roasting times,” says Juerss. The nature of RFB technology also ensures a quick reaction time of the machine. No matter the nature of the green beans, the machine will adjust its inputs accordingly to ensure a uniform roast throughout the coffee that’s feeding into the manufacturing line. To help operators oversee what’s happening with the coffee, the RFB system offers an advanced control and visualisation system. The system allows to operator to copy a roast profile batch after batch, using integrated sensors and detectors. The computerised system allows to operator to document every step along the line. “It is really quite easy for the operator to grab the steering wheel and control the machine,” says Juerss. The need for accurate equipment to keep an instant coffee manufacturing plant running smoothly along also falls in the grinding space. The ground coffee being fed into the extraction process for instant coffee needs to have constant minimal particle size. “One of the basic conditions for instant production is low-dust grinding of the roasted coffee,” says Juerss. “Because too high dust content of the ground product leads to drastic reduction in the operating intervals of the filters, causing costly downtimes.” This is where Neuhaus Neotec’s roll grinders come in handy, with the special corrugation of the rolls that avoids dust while also ensuring the reproducibility of the grinding particle size. Juerss explains that controlling the particle distribution size not only ensures a smooth production flow into the extraction phase, but also can have a decisive influence on the taste of the coffee. The grinder also offers the advantage of flexibility through a modular design. Neuhaus Neotec’s grinders can be adjusted according to the layout of the production process. “It can be a big job to build grinders into a production line. Our system is more flexible, so you don’t have to build a factory line-up around them,” he says. Having worked with so many companies over the years, Juerss says Neuhaus Neotec has developed a niche expertise in instant coffee manufacturing. “We’re not only a specialist in grinding and roasting coffee. We’re able to consult with our customers to provide them with advice on the entire coffee production line,” says Juerss. He adds that Neuhaus Neotec also offers silo and degassing solutions.