Single-serve coffee continues to grow in popularity, decades after it was first introduced. The format, which has been the fastest-growing segment of the industry over the past decade, is so popular now that roasters of all sizes are rushing to be a part of it.
Of course the single-serve revolution has brought with it a revolution in the processes and machinery needed to pack and serve coffee.
On the manufacturers’ side, offering a line of coffee capsules means making a significant investment in the purchase and installation of the right plant equipment. Rychiger’s FS190 has been developed to cater to the smaller coffee roaster that is looking to enter the capsule segment. With a footprint smaller than five square metres, the FS190 still manages to produce up to 280 capsules per minute. The FS190 can fill and seal a wide variety of capsules, including but not limited to Nespresso compatible units. The FS190 was first put on the market in 2015 as a solution aimed at smaller roasters, but due to its small footprint and high level of flexibility, the machine has proved a hit with roasters of all sizes, says Rychiger’s Head of Sales and Marketing, Marco Stalder. “A bigger variety of brands and products in the single-serve segment also leads to smaller volumes per product or taste profile,” Stalder tells Global Coffee Report. “Instead of having one machine with a high output but therefore also many product changes, some companies have found it more suitable to run multiple lines with smaller output and fewer product changes, increasing overall equipment effectiveness and flexibility of the whole plant.” Of course the FS190’s flexibility is not just limited to the machine’s output. It can also be configured by Rychiger to suit each customer’s individual needs. Depending on the capsule design, the FS190 can be ordered with different feeding systems or de-stack units. It is also equipped with Rychiger’s unique one-stroke technology that punches and seals roll stock foil in one process, allowing monitoring and setting the parameters individually for each lane. Filling and sealing of the capsules is carried out in a closed nitrogen atmosphere. “The FS190’s smart design provides an especially low nitrogen consumption,” Stalder says. Depending on the customer, the machine can be equipped with additional process modules, including filling of various products, liquid flavouring, coffee compressing, rim cleaning, ultrasonic welding, check weighing or different technologies for quality checks. While the FS190 is at the lower end of Rychiger’s range, this does not mean there have been any sacrifices made to the quality of the end product, Stalder says. “The FS190 covers the lower end of Rychiger’s range of machines in terms of production speed, but it is designed and built according to the same top level quality standards for which Rychiger is known in the market,” he tells GCR. The machine is designed to work as standalone equipment, having simple, straightforward interfaces which can be integrated with existing equipment easily. Built-in quality controls and reject systems make sure that only good parts are transferred to the downstream equipment. “More and more of our customers also benefit from our tremendous experience in the industry and order complete line or factory fit outs from us,” Stalder says. “Together with our customers we can ensure an optimal product design, an individually arranged line layout and highest equipment quality.” With almost 100 years experience in producing high-quality packaging solutions, Rychiger has earned a strong reputation in the market for the quality and reliability of its products, and the FS190 is no exception, Stalder says. “Rychiger will celebrate its 100th birthday next year, and we have been in the packaging business for almost the same period of time,” he says. “During this time we have accumulated a packaging know-how that is hardly found anywhere else. This know-how allowed us to build machines according to the customer’s requirement at one of the highest quality levels to this day. The resulting market reputation and technical competence are the corner stones that lead to the point that we are chosen by the customers as one of the first suppliers of filling and sealing machines for coffee capsules.” Stalder says that constant innovation and process development has been key in getting the company to where it is today. “Our flexibility to adapt our machines to the requirements of the customers and high quality standards ensure their satisfaction with our machines and services,” he says. “At the core of it all, however, is the famous ‘Rychiger Spirit’ – as one team we always strive to deliver the highest possible quality to ensure that our customers are always a step ahead of the market.” One of the innovations in the FS190 is an intelligent arrangement of the product pockets, providing an excellent access for operators to the process units and an optimal utilisation of the top lid foil, which reduces the amount used by 15 to 30 per cent compared to conventional systems. Stalder says that Rychiger does not envision the demand for capsules will slow down any time soon, though there are certainly new customer demands shaping the industry. “There is certainly a trend towards more environmentally friendly capsule materials. Bio-based or biodegradable plastics or recyclable monomaterials are a huge topic in the market,” he says. “At the same time also the barrier properties of the materials is a subject that we discuss with many customers.” In addition to this, Stalder says he expects the demand for capsules to grow beyond hot beverage category in the future. “Due to rising incomes in key markets, capsule systems are also spreading in areas where capsules have not been popular or affordable before,” he says. “Although most of the capsules are still used in coffee, tea or milk powder, we might also see other products coming in capsules in the future.” GCR