Coffee is pleasure - its taste, flavor, aroma, and refreshing effect make it unique. It is also a product that attracts great attention in the food and beverage industry. In the technology used to manufacture canned liquid coffee as well as regular and agglomerated instant coffee, GEA Process Engineering sets the standards for others to follow.

Core competences
GEA Process Engieering's technologies for liquids and solids processing of instant coffee, tea, and cocoa are well-known and well-respected. For more than 50 years, we have developed coffee powder technology with great emphasis on maintaining a leading position. More than 200 plants have been delivered world-wide for instant coffee alone.

Core competences include:

Special expertise is offered within the supply of plants for manufacturing heat sensitive aroma-based consumer products. We supply coffee powder processing systems from green bean treatment to premium instant coffee.

Green bean treatment
Coffee beans are seeds from coffee fruits. After removal of the pulp the green coffee beans are dried, cleaned, packed (typically in 60 kg bags), stored and if necessary subsequently transported around the world for further treatment such as decaffeination.

Various blendings of the coffee types is common practice. Together with the subsequent roasting, this defines the final characteristic of the coffee. Modern plants are usually designed so blending of the different sorts of beans can take place after the roasting.

Roasting is a delicate process, part art and part science, where the roast master must decide exactly how long and hard the beans are to be roasted to get the desired result. During roasting, the beans acquire the flavor and color of the finished coffee.

Granulation (milling) of coffee beans
To obtain the best possible quality (aroma/yield) of coffee extract, it is important to granulate the roasted coffee beans to smaller fractions (bigger surface) of almost the same size. This is done in specially designed GEA Niro grinding equipment.

GEA Process Engineering's coffee processing system features the latest development in the extraction technique. After granulation of the coffee beans, the extraction process starts.

GEA Niro supplies two types of extractors: 

  • The traditional CONTEX™ continuous extractor is a non-pressurized extractor utilizing only the aroma fraction of the coffee beans and thereby a relative low yield, but an excellent extract for the high quality extract market like liquid coffee, etc. However, extraction time is long. 
  • The importance of short extraction time is fully incorporated in the IC batch operated multi-extraction perculator, manually operated as a continuous process, or in the fully automatic and most modern FIC™ batch extractor. Both extractors are pressurized to obtain high utilization of the coffee beans (high yield). With the FIC™ system, water is introduced at two different stages to decrease extraction time and the resulting extracts will fulfil any quality or yield requirements you may have.

Extract treatment (aroma recovery)
To prevent the desired and volatile aroma components in the extract from being lost during thermal concentration, the extract fractions are stripped of their volatiles in an aroma recovery unit. The aroma fraction is mixed with the concentrated coffee extract. The aroma fraction of the extract can also be pre-concentrated using reverse osmosis in a membrane filtration system. This slightly changes the taste profile, which is an advantage for some few niche coffees and in some niche markets.

Concentration (evaporation)
The concentration/evaporation of the coffee extract (usually without the aroma fraction) is done under lenient processing conditions in equipment designed specifically for coffee to ensure maximum aroma retention. Concentration serves the dual purpose of increasing the solids content in the extract prior to freeze drying or spray drying, and making the process as economical as possible.

The coffee extract is concentrated gently, quickly, and efficiently. The evaporator preserves the taste components and produces an excellent concentrate for the production of convenient coffee. With GEA Messo PT freeze concentration process, aroma loss due to thermal degradation is eliminated. Alternatively, membrane filtration (reverse osmosis) can be used to upconcentrate the coffee extract.

Spray drying
Spray drying is an economic method of producing soluble coffee. For production of non-agglomerated powder the NOZZLE TOWER™ is used. Agglomerated powders are produced in the Fluidized Spray Dryer FSD™ or in the FILTERMAT™ spray dryer. To maximize aroma retention, spray drying of the extract takes place under conditions that ensure low powder temperatures.

Agglomeration is used in cases where spray dried coffee powders need to be presented with bigger agglomerates. An additional process stage is then used involving powder wetting, mechanical impact, after-drying, and cooling. Control of wetting is carried out with water and/or saturated steam in an agglomeration chamber equipped with a rotating impacter. The agglomerates are then dried and cooled in the attached fluid bed, followed by sieving and packing. Fines and oversize fractions are reprocessed within the agglomeration plant.

Freeze drying
Freeze drying is by far the most sophisticated process for producing instant coffee. Freeze dried coffee is by far also the most value-added instant coffee and obtains the absolute highest prices – up to two times more than spray dried coffee.

GEA Process Engineering has supplied more than 50 freeze drying plants for coffee.

We supply solutions for all aspects of successful instant coffee production, making us the obvious supplier of individual plants as well as complete process lines for coffee. Our solutions include our own unique technologies as well as equipment from trusted partners in coffee bean handling, roasting, and packing of the finished product.

No matter which plant or process line you desire, you will experience significant cost reductions due to efficient waste treatment and recycle systems, as well as an increase in product quality. Our commitment extends beyond the actual plants. A strong international network of companies gives you the comfort of local service combined with the quality that comes from global presence.