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Approx. 20 % or more of the world’s coffee bean production is processed into instant coffee products, such as:
The technology used to manufacture canned liquid coffee as well as regular and agglomerated instant coffee was originally developed by GEA Process Engineering, and with more than 200 GEA Niro instant coffee plants supplied worldwide, GEA Process Engineering sets the standard for others to follow.
Instant coffee process technology
The instant coffee process starts with the granulation/milling of your roasted coffee beans, an important process to ensure that the following extraction gives you the wanted yield and quality of the coffee extract. Depending on your capacity requirements, you can select the GEA Niro CONTEX™ continuous extractor for smaller quantities or the FIC™ (Fast Instant Coffee) extractor for larger capacities. They consist of a number of vertical percolator columns working batch-wise, but combined they produce a high quality coffee extract on a continuous basis.
One fraction of the coffee extract is the aroma and aroma recovery technology is important to secure the best taste in the final product. It is designed to recover the volatile aroma fraction so that it is not lost during the subsequent evaporation, but available to be remixed into the concentrate.
The concentrate can be either spray or freeze dried depending on the powder in demand. Spray dryers for coffee concentrate produce a regular type of powder or an agglomerated, free-flowing instant product consisting of agglomerated particles. Larger agglomerates can also be produced using the GEA Niro REWET AGGLOMERATOR™.
Freeze drying is often applied to produce premium instant coffees. For this we offer the GEA Niro RAY™ batch freeze dryer for small volumes, or the GEA Niro CONRAD™ continuous freeze dryer for larger volumes.
Before the freeze drying takes place, a pretreatment, including cooling, pre-freezing and foaming of the coffee concentrate is needed. The final freezing is done on either a ROTA Freezer or a CAB Freezing Plant. The ROTA Freezer is a space saving, hygienic and easy-to-operate plant that can handle coffee concentrate with up to 35-38 % solids. The CAB Freezing Plant is specially developed for coffee concentrate and makes it possible to reach 45 % solids as well as operating as a 3-step unit – each step with optimal freezing conditions to obtain an even color of the frozen product.
The product is removed as frozen flakes from the pre-freezer. To secure the correct size of the flakes for the subsequent freeze drying, the frozen flakes are granulated and sieved before filled into the trays of the freeze dryer.
When the powder leaves the plant, it is ready for final powder packing in cans.
Process sections for complete instant coffee powder plants:
Typical instant coffee equipment sizes:
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