Your flavor questions answered: Tea & Coffee Trade Journal surveyed 10 major coffee roasters on questions they have regarding flavored coffee. These questions were brought to Flavor & Fragrance Specialties for answers, tips and advice.(Staff Report)
Tea & Coffee: Are your flavors without any flammable chemicals/materials?
Flavor & Fragrance Specialties: As a custom flavor creator and manufacturer, FFS works with our customers to develop and recommend flavors to meet their specific manufacturing and safety requirements. An example of a proactive approach FFS took in 2007, was to remove added diacetyl from our coffee flavors to make both options available. A common sense approach to handling all flavor materials according to OSHA standards is always recommended.
T&C: What is my flexibility with quantities and units? Is there a minimum weight I must purchase?
FFS: Our coffee flavor experts assist you with working through quantities and use levels based on a numerous factors including level of roast, origin and throw.
T&C: Do I have the option to purchase any certified (organic, kosher) or all-natural products?
FFS: All our coffee flavors are kosher certified, we offer all natural, N&A, organic certifiable and organic certified.
T&C: What is the shelf life of these products? What measures can I take to extend this?
FFS: With proper handling and storage, coffee flavors are more stable than the coffee itself. Our normal shelf life for coffee flavors is 12 months.
T&C: I have been told that t have three choices for mixing equipment: ribbon blenders, drum rotators and candy pan coaters. Can you suggest which is the best option for a mid-size roaster?
FFS: Based on our extensive experience from working directly with roasters, there are a number of economical choices for mixing equipment to ensure uniform flavor distribution. For roasted and ground coffee, a ribbon blender offers the convenience and flexibility for applying liquid flavor to small batches. To flavor whole beans, drum rotators are the most economical. The best version is a drum blender with baffles. A utility mixer is another option for flavoring whole bean coffee--coffee and flavor can be placed and sealed in polyethylene cans and added to the chamber. The use of the polyethylene cans makes it easy to remove the flavored beans from the mixing chamber. Candy pan coaters are not very efficient for applying flavor and expose the coffee, plus the flavors to oxygen.
T&C: I have been told it is more efficient for commercial roasters to flavor coffee once it is ground, but I am unsure which method to use. Is there a difference in the formulas for adding flavor to whole bean versus ground coffee?
FFS: Typically, if the coffee is sold as ground, it is more efficient to flavor coffee after grinding, since flavor levels need to be adjusted due to flash-off from grinding process. The same flavor can be used for ground or whole beans, we work with our customers to optimize the flavor levels for each end use to determine order quantities.
T&C: What sort of packaging differences do I need to examine for flavored coffee?
FFS: As a full service flavor & fragrance company we conduct comprehensive stability tests with our customers packaging to ensure compatibility. Based on FFS's extensive experience, we recommend you test the packaging as early as possible in the development process.
T&C: What is the future of flavors? Has there been any movement towards more substantive heat resistant flavor compounds? Flavors which cure onto the beans with no heat whatsoever?
FFS: Anything is possible from a creative standpoint. The challenge for the industry is to reconcile the benefits of new technologies versus the cost efficiency of traditional methods.
T&C: I have tried distributing flavored coffee before, but was told by my clients that the flavors were too overpowering. Could this be attributed to the flavor manufacturer and recipes or the amount of flavor I was adding to the coffee?
FFS: In the past, coffee roasters evaluated flavor levels with a few sips which is not representative of a full serving. To determine usage levels and flavor balance, FFS employs extensive testing methods to ensure full cup drinkability throughout the drinking experience. Over time, with improved coffee quality, consumer's tastes and expectations shifted from trying to cover up the coffee notes to a better balance between the coffee & flavor components. FFS's sensory program consists of proactive research to understand buying habits, roast levels and flavor preferences. Based on our proprietary research, comfort and familiar flavors tend to work well in flavored coffees.
T&C: I am a soluble coffee manufacturer and have recently gotten many requests to offer flavored soluble coffee. Can you explain how this process would work and the steps I would need to take to begin this venture?
FFS: Though flavored Instant coffee has been sold for some time, it presents new opportunities in the marketplace with the potential of Starbucks reinvigorating the market--particularly in a single serve application. Providing flavors in this application will be a natural next-generation product. The challenge of using flavors is being able to provide tasteful, stable flavor profiles that mix well and distribute evenly throughout the coffee and solubilize as quickly and easily as the coffee does. At FFS, we spent a considerable amount of time developing prototype formulations in anticipation of market demand. In fact, we have innovative, on-trend prototypes of complete single serve flavored soluble (instant) coffee beverages.