Did you know coffee is the most highly consumed beverage on the planet? According to the National Coffee Association (NCA), 62 percent of Americans drink coffee every single day. Meanwhile, the Coffee Association of Canada reports two out of three Canadians have at least one daily cup of Joe. And that’s just in North America. By 2026, the global coffee market is projected to reach $155.64 billion USD.
Opportunities abound for coffee producers, and demand is on the rise. Evolving consumer preferences — including a shift from traditionally processed coffee to specialty blends, flavours and single-serve capsules or pods — make for more complex applications. Producers, therefore, need to be mindful of the challenges that await, and select their processing equipment accordingly.
Common coffee processing risks to be aware of
- Product breakage and degradation
As a friable product, coffee is vulnerable to breakage and degradation. Since broken beans lose their vitality and flavour, it’s especially important for coffee producers to select gentle conveying equipment. Bucket elevators like TipTrak™ that are specifically designed to gently handle fragile materials such as coffee are a good choice. Instead of metal chains that can run slack and provide a bumpy ride for product, TipTrak features a rubber chain that doesn’t require tensioning once installed. This makes for a smoother ride, which helps preserve product integrity. TipTrak also runs horizontally and vertically, in a “Z” or “C” configuration, from a single drive. This enables the product to avoid transfer points, reducing the risk of product degradation.
UniTrak’s Powderflight aeromechanical conveyor is another option for gentle conveying. Equally suited for whole beans and grounds, it transports product on a fast-moving airstream with minimal particle attrition.
- Inconsistent grind distribution
In order to maintain the consistency of the blend, both ground and roasted coffee needs to be handled gently, so as not to segregate the fines from the grains. Ground coffee often has a high oil content, causing some of the product to stick to the bucket and not discharge properly. Because of its interlocking bucket assembly design, TipTrak bucket elevators can be fitted with a bucket knocker that taps the back of the bucket at the discharge point to ensure all of the coffee moves on to the next processing step. This makes TipTrak the ideal choice for conveying ground coffee.
Coffee dust is potentially combustible. It can also settle on other products during the transfer process, which is why coffee manufacturers are advised to select enclosed or sealed conveyors to contain the dust. TipTrak is available in PEC and Monocoque models, which can be supplied with fully conductive drive assemblies to reduce the risk of combustion. The PEC model features a fully enclosed design to contain product dusting. And, the Monocoque is fully sealed to eliminate fugitive coffee dust emissions. Constructed from carbon or stainless steel, Powderflight aeromechanical conveyors are another robust option for dust-free conveying.
- Flavour cross-contamination
Processing multiple flavours can lead to cross-contamination and ultimately compromised product. This risk can be mitigated by thoroughly cleaning conveyors between flavour changes. TipTrak’s Clean-in-Place system makes it easy for coffee producers to quickly and effectively address cross-contamination risks, without needing to transport the conveyor to a remote washdown station. This greatly reduces the changeover time and returns the unit to service faster.
With 50 years’ experience, UniTrak has worked with a wide range of coffee producers to solve their unique manufacturing challenges, from large multinational corporations to small coffee roasters. UniTrak’s coffee handling equipment can be found around the world, and every machine is built-to-order to suit the specific application requirements. UniTrak has even designed and built completely custom solutions, such as portable bins with slide gates to help transport product throughout the plant.
To find out how UniTrak can help you, get in touch with our sales team and join them for a virtual cup of coffee!