We who write espresso machine reviews were curious about how instant coffee is manufactured. The following information on how instant coffee is manufactured we think you will find interesting!
Along with tea, coffee has become one of the world’s most popular drinks. While most coffee consumed is fresh brewed, a small fraction is made from instant coffee granules, which allows people to make coffee quickly, easily, and without any complicated brewing equipment.
Starting with coffee beans, which come from the fruit of the coffee plant. The mature fruit, which resembles a large cherry, usually contains two seeds or “beans” surrounded by sweet pulp. This sweet pulp is removed, and the beans are dried and roasted to remove the moisture, bringing out the distinctive rich, bitter flavor of the coffee.
In manufacturing instant coffee, the roasted beans are first coarsely ground to enable water to percolate freely through the coffee grounds. The water passes through the grounds in several “hot” cells (140-180C) and then passes through two or more “cold” cells (100C). This temperature variation allows the different flavors in the coffee to be extracted efficiently. Next the coffee liquid is cooled, to just about 5 degrees, then when the liquid coffee extract holds 20 to 30 percent solids the process is nearing its conclusion.
After filtering, additional water is removed to increase the concentration of solids in the liquid to 40%. This is accomplished by either evaporation or by freezing and mechanically separating the ice crystals from the solids. This step aids in the subsequent drying process. Oxygen is then removed from the liquid by bubbling carbon dioxide or nitrogen through it. The purpose of removing the oxygen from the coffee liquid is to preserve the aroma of the instant coffee final product. And we are all greatful they don’t skip this step as every time we open a new jar of instant coffee that “aroma” can be very intoxicating to the coffee lover!
The next step is to remove the bulk of the remaining water to yield the solids forming the instant coffee particles. There are two methods for this. The first is to spray the liquid in a large chamber while flowing heated air to remove the water from the droplets, leaving behind only the coffee solids. This is the cheaper and quicker method, although the heat compromises some of the flavor of the instant coffee. The second method is freeze-drying, which freezes the concentrated liquid, then breaks it up into small pieces. The water is then removed from the ice mixture by sublimation under vacuum with the application of a modest amount of heat.
As with any manufacturing process there is a slight loss of quality in the end product. The coffee aroma is less robust, thus aromatic elements are added back to the coffee product just before final packaging. These aromas are recovered from gases collected from coffee roasting or by using steam to capture aromas from coffee grounds. Additionally, oils from coffee grounds can be extracted using high pressures. The captured aromatic compounds are sprayed onto the instant coffee particles immediately before packaging.
The final stage is packaging, which occurs in a dry, oxygen-free environment to preserve both the flavor and the aroma of the final product.
Instant coffee goes through a remarkable, well-engineered process to go from the coffee fruit to the final dry granules. Advances over the years have improved both the taste and fragrance of the instant coffee that reaches the tables of consumers everywhere.Coffee, instant coffee, making instant coffee, manufacturing instant coffee}