Consumption of coffee beverages continues to increase globally, with consumer preferences for blended flavoured and unflavoured products remaining strong. To ensure quality and consistency in the final product, producers of blended flavoured and unflavoured whole-bean and ground coffees are especially concerned with ensuring the integrity of coffee beans, grinds, and blends as they move through the various stages of the production process. To help achieve high quality and consistency in the final product, gentle handling coffee conveyors are a key equipment asset in the production process.
Coffee Processing: Challenges
Producing blended flavoured and unflavoured coffees involves the blending, roasting, grinding, and flavouring of coffee beans, with the final product then being packaged for distribution and sale. Key challenges that producers of blended coffee products face when conveying coffee products include the following:
- Preventing breakage of coffee beans. Since consumers of whole-bean product do not want broken beans in the final product they purchase, friable coffee beans must be handled gently when conveyed.
- Maintaining the classification and consistency of coffee grinds. Conveyors which handle coffee grinds roughly can de-stratify or de-classify the grinds. This can result in an uneven and inconsistent grind distribution within the final product.
- Preventing dusting. Coffee dust is potentially combustible and explosive when ignited. Airborne coffee dust can also settle on other products during their transfer through the production process. For these reasons, enclosed or sealed conveyors are preferable for handling coffee product.
- Preventing flavour cross-contamination and ensuring food safety. Producers running multiple flavours will want to avoid flavour cross-contamination when equipment is cleaned and placed back into service. Producers of flavoured and unflavoured coffees need conveyors which can be thoroughly cleaned and quickly placed back into service.
Gentle Handling Coffee Conveyors
TipTrak™ bucket elevators from UniTrak are a preferred choice for the gentle handling of coffee product. The fully interlocking buckets of the TipTrak™ elevator, together with the rubber beltchain, ensures that friable coffee beans will not break during their ride through the conveyor. In addition, a gentle handling TipTrak™ elevator will not de-classify or de-stratify coffee grinds, ensuring that grind consistency is maintained during conveying.
TipTrak™ PEC model elevators feature a fully enclosed design that contains product dusting. TipTrak™ Monocoque models are fully sealed, eliminating fugitive emissions of coffee dust into the surrounding space. Both TipTrak™ PEC and Monocoque models can be supplied with fully conductive drive assemblies which reduce the risk of dust combustion or explosion. Cleanable options, including a Clean-In-Place (CIP) system, are also available to address cross-contamination and food-safety requirements.
Powderflight aeromechanical conveyors from UniTrak offer gentle and dust-free handling of coffee product on a fast-moving airstream. Easily cleaned and moved, these conveyors are currently being used to service applications involving whole-bean roasted as well as ground coffee.
Finally, for intermittent or batch-type operations, UniFlex flexible screw conveyors are an economical equipment choice. With a small footprint and flexible enclosed tube, these conveyors can readily handle ground coffee products.
To find out more about the challenges of conveying coffee and to see which equipment options are right for you, please download our Conveying Coffee fact sheet here. For more information on UniTrak gentle handling coffee conveyors, or to find out how UniTrak can help solve your coffee conveying challenges, please contact our sales team directly.