Equipment

Flexibility is key for Probat

When it comes to instant coffee manufacturing Thomas Koziorowski, Probat’s Director of Product Technology and R&D, says that trends are not so different than what’s happening in the roast and ground market. “What we’re seeing is the same situation as the industry at large. Previously, companies were focusing on offering one or two different products. Today, they’re expanding their offering to include single origin instant coffees, or mixing instant coffee with other substances,” he says. “It’s really the same direction as the ‘normal’ coffee market.” This significant shift has meant that today’s instant coffee equipment needs to be highly flexible to adapt to these different needs. “You need general flexibility to ensure fast changes between batches and recipes,” says Koziorowski. Probat’s Tangential Jupiter roasting machine series is well suited to meet these demands. The original flexible roaster, the Jupiter machines help minimise roasting times by maximising beans’ contact with the air. Thanks to Probat’s Reflection Roast Control System, a computer measures the temperature of the beans and automatically adjusts all of the inputs accordingly. So the operator can program in different recipes, and be guaranteed a highly accurate roast. A PC-based operating station, the Pilot Roaster control system, displays the actual and target temperatures, and a range of other parameters. It communicates with the Reflection Control System to adjust the machine parameters of air supply and temperature, to bring the product back on the curve. This level of control comes in handy to meet the demands of the instant coffee industry. “Each instant coffee producer will have their own production method,” explains Koziorowski. He says Probat takes these production methods into account when working with instant coffee manufacturers to meet their needs. “You always have to think about the entire process. It’s not just roasting, grinding and packaging. Depending on the installation, there are a lot of needs to consider,” he says. “We get a lot of feedback on what they need in terms of higher moisture content, colour, or grind particle size.” Ingo Binzen is Sales Director for Probat. He explains how one thing all instant manufacturers have in common is the need for a consistently coarse grind of coffee that feeds into the extraction phase of the production line.  “You need flexibility in the roasting machine to be able to cope with the needs of specific particle sizes,” he says.  Ingo says that particle size starts at the roaster. Probat’s roasters  can influence the number of fine particles thanks to their two-stage water quenching system. During the first phase, a specific level of water pressure is released that minimises steam, helping to open up the cell structure of the beans. In the second stage, more water is released, but this time with the goal of entering the newly opened cell structure of the bean. The resulting whole coffee is ready to be put through the grinding or crushing system, resulting in a homogenous particle size of 3 millimetres and virtually no fine grains blocking up filters. One trend that’s unique to the instant coffee arena is the use of finely ground coffee in the final product. Binzen explains that grinding coffee to such a small size is a real challenge. “The coffee must be so fine, you don’t feel a single particle in your mouth,” he explains. “For this, you really need special equipment.” In this space, Probat offers its three-stage grinder. The rolls can be controlled individually to manage the particle size distribution, meeting the needs for ultra-fine grinding. The equipment features optional motor-driven gap adjustment with zero-point calibration. This means that the grinding gap is guaranteed, and the machine will even compensate for roller wear. This level of flexibility is important to adapt to the needs of roasting operations. Koziorowski explains that adding ground coffee to instant isn’t simple. While some companies will opt to mix the ground coffee into the packaging, others mix it in during the spraying or freeze drying phases. The result is instant coffee that actually forms, or glues, around the cell structure of the ground coffee. Koziorowski says Probat has been selling a large amount of roller grinders to cater for this new trend, and it’s certainly an area of soluble coffee manufacturing he thinks will continue to expand. “We really see that it’s a growing business,” he says. “If you taste that kind of coffee, you’ll see why. It brings the taste to a new level.”

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