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Coffee extracts for ingredient use: roast and ground coffee beans are being extracted to meet the needs of two very traditional but diverse coffee products: liquid coffee extracts and instant coffee powders and crystals.

While some may think liquid coffee extracts and instant coffee powders are the same, there are specific, proper and growing uses for both these formats of convenience coffees.

The major differences between liquid coffee extracts and instant coffees are their uses in a final product. Liquid coffee extract and instant coffee are quite different in both intended applications and methods to manufacture. Both products start out as roast and ground coffee and both are made into extracts, but via very different paths.

The coffee extraction methods differ predominantly based on the temperature at which the roast and ground coffees are wetted and extracted. During liquid coffee extraction, the brew temperature is below the boiling point of water, and only the flavor and flagrance of the coffee bean is gently removed. During the process for instant coffee extraction, the coffee beans are extracted above the boiling point of water. The harsh flavor and flagrance is removed, along with a controllable amount of the coffee bean's woody fiber that is also broken down and removed. Extraction temperature is therefore the key to product differences.

To the surprise of most people, a roasted coffee bean is 20% flavor / fragrance, and 80% wood fiber. When coffee is brewed at home you will extract only 16 to 18%, which is totally flavor and fragrance. That is because you brew coffee below the boiling point of water (preferably at 193[degrees]F), so you won't extract any wood fiber from the bean. When roasted coffee beans are extracted to make instant coffee, a series of seven columns are filled with roast and ground beans and are subjected to 370[degrees]F water, for a period of up to three hours. This very harsh process allows for the removal of not only the flavor and flagrance, but a substantial amount of the cellulose--woody fiber--of the bean is also "hydrolyzed."

In the instant coffee business, the flavor and fragrance is referred to as "heads" and the hydrolyzed cellulose is referred to as "tails." Customers can specify the ratio of heads and tails, with a maximum of 70% heads / 30% tails. Customers can not buy instant that is 100% heads; however they can buy pure liquid coffee extracts that are 100% heads. The focus of most instant coffee manufacturing is simply a commercial grade of instant where the ratios are typically 40% heads and 60% tails. This means that 60% of a cup of typical instant coffee is woody fiber, since the coffee flavor and fragrance fraction is only 40% of that cup.

In the liquid coffee extract business, the goal is to extract only the 20% fraction of the bean that is pure flavor and fragrance, and leave behind the 80% fraction of the bean that is wood--as spent coffee grinds. Liquid coffee extracts therefore are pure coffee flavor and fragrance in pure water--with no woody fiber.

While both products start out as roast and ground coffees and both products are made into extract, there are no similarities in the extraction methods whatsoever. Additionally, instant coffee extracts go through a heat or refrigeration evaporation (dehydration) to convert the extract from wet slurry into powders and crystals. Also, instants are aromatized to restore lost fragrance upon packaging. Coffee extracts that are made for liquid coffee are not processed any further.

It is interesting that instant coffee uses its own dried coffee bean fiber as the "carrier" for the flavor and fragrance, whereas coffee extracts use water as the "carrier." The point being that the flavor and fragrance in instant coffee is "clinging to" the dry wood fiber whereas the flavor and fragrance in liquid coffee extracts is in solution with the water. The measure of value in instant coffee manufacturing is its total weight (which includes up to 60% wood fiber) whereas the measure of value in pure liquid coffee extract is Brix. (Brix is defined as a hydrometer scale for sugar solutions so graduated that its readings at a specified temperature represent percentages by weight of sugar in the solution.)

What this all means is that the coffee bean's flavor and fragrance is carried to your cup in one of two ways either with a soluble wood fiber, as in instants, or with pure water as in extracts. There is a significant difference in taste and therefore different uses of these two products.

When thinking about the beverage, coffee, keep in mind that the hardest coffee to make is a well balanced, consistent, cup of black coffee. However, when cream and sugar are added (both are flavorings) the job of making good cup of coffee is quite a bit easier, giving the black coffee two additional flavors to hide behind. Many of the current ready to drink (RTD) coffee beverages are often: 1) milky, 2) sugary, 3) flavored, and 4) coffee! Coffee is in the fourth position. This reduced emphasis for the coffee flavor makes the job for coffee very easy. It is even easier to were formulate coffee ice creams, because poor coffee can easily hide behind the heavy cream and sugar.

Clearly, the hot and black cup is the most difficult cup of coffee to make consistently. The conclusion to be drawn is that the best coffee should be used in terms of flavor and aroma in this, the most critical, application because coffee flavor is in the forwards position. The use of beverage grade liquid coffee extract is required in this critical application. The background woodiness typical of instants makes for a poor finish, and the hydrolyzed cellulose clouds the cup, which makes instant coffee a poor choice for a black cup of coffee. However, instant coffees can and do perform a very big task as the basis of many RTD coffee beverages and ice creams.

1 Coffee Taste Forwards is when the coffee is the featured attribute of the beverage.

Beverage grade liquid coffee extracts have been well accepted by the coffee drinking community in high volume liquid coffee brewers, (like the Bunn LCA-2). Liquid coffee extracts currently account for more than 3% of all coffee consumed. Since liquid coffee extracts are used to make the critical hot black cup of coffee, liquid coffee extracts should be used for coffee taste forwards coffee beverages.

Alternative uses of coffee give members of the coffee roasting community an opportunity to extend your own coffee product lines to include formulated RTD coffee beverages and ice creams. These products place coffee beans and blends in the first position using pure liquid coffee extracts. These RTDs and ice creams will entice new consumers to your brand, and they may eventually become your new mainstream coffee consumers.

Vendors should consider using their own beans, blends and roast profiles to make private label RTD coffee products wheretheir coffee is in the forwards position-meaning that their coffee is the first thing a customer smells and tastes as they open a bottle of RTD coffee or eat a scoop of coffee ice cream. The process is simple. Toll extract beans or blend into a liquid coffee extract, at a concentration level of at least 23.5 brix and formulate personal products.

The brew strength of a typical cup of coffee is about .78 brix. So an extract at 23.5 brix is 30 times stronger than a standard cup of coffee (hence the concept of 30 to 1). This brew strength also equates to about 20% solids in the extract, which is near the limit of coffee solids in solution in water. A pure liquid coffee extract made to 23.5 brix is naturally strongly anti-microbial, and is therefore shelf stable.

In X Cafe's method, it is shelf stable for four months ambient, six months refrigerated. Coffee extracts below 23.5 brix are not necessarily shelf stable, and may need refrigeration to exist without issues. At 23.5 brix and above, the flavoring strength or "power" of these extracts is quite strong, so products that are made with milk and / or cream can be strongly flavored and aromatized by these extracts. These extracts will give products a personel coffee flavor in the forward position.

To understand the economics of toll extraction one should also know that it takes 12 lbs. of green, or about 10 lbs. roasted to make one gallon of 23.5 brix extract. That gallon of extract will provide adequate flavor to make 31 total gallons (30 to 1) when mixed with hot water (for hot coffee this equals 500 eight oz. cups). One gallon mixed with milk will make about 25 gallons (i.e., bottled RTD beverages equals 266 Frappuccinos). One gallon of extract made into ice cream equals 20 gallons of premium ice cream mix (which makes 40 gallons of ice cream). The cost of that gallon at current market prices is about $45.00, including quality coffee.

It is clear that any coffee beverage or ice cream that puts coffee in the forwards position in terms of taste and aroma also needs to put its best foot forwards by using pure liquid coffee extracts. Pure coffee extracts are a necessity in a hot black cup of coffee, and are likewise a necessity in coffee forwards formulated coffee products.

2 Coffee Taste Secondary is when the coffee taste is the second attribute of a beverage.

In this scenario, the taste of coffee may be only slightly behind the creaminess of an ice cream, or the smooth milkiness of a RTD beverage (i.e., a hot cup of coffee with cream or sugar). The pure coffee extract is again the best choice. Coffee in the second position allows for a different, more subdued ratio that could yield 28 gallons for a RTD, or as much as 25 gallons of ice cream mix.

Another way to produce these secondary formulations effectively is to use a fortified extract. A fortified extract is a combination of pure 23.5 brix extract (from freshly roasted beans) fortified with instant coffee powders and crystals. If you start with a high level pure extract like a 23.5 brix extract, you can fortify it 10 to 40% with instant, and the fragrance and flavor of the pure extract will still dominate the blend. Fortified extracts can be very price effective if they are properly applied to certain projects.

If a pure 23.5 brix coffee extract were fortified from the standard 30 to 1 up to 40 to 1, or 50 to 1, the final product yield would go up by 33 to 66%, yet the cost would rise only 12% to 25%, due to the lower cost of the instant.

Some price sensitive applications for liquid coffee extracts can be effectively formulated with up to 40% instant to serve more cups from the same gallon. For example at 50 to 1, where the basis extract is 30 to 1 and the fortification provides the additional 20 to 1 boost, the total yield is 51 gallons of coffee beverage, and the cost ,night be only $55.00 per gallon.

RTDs and ice creams that are made with these fortified extracts can be either flavor forwards, or flavor secondary, and still have a very nice taste and pleasant aroma. The key to success is starting with a high brix pure extract, free of hydrolyzed cellulose, and then add a quality instant. The added instant could be a standard 40 heads /60 tails ratio, or a premium 70 heads / 30 tails ratio.

The key to good coffee flavor in the second position is to use the best fortification ingredients possible, starting with a quality basis in pure coffee extract.

3 Coffee taste in the third position is when two other flavors or textures dominate the coffee rage or ice cream.

The coffee does not have to work too hard to provide a pleasing taste. Poor coffee tastes can readily hide behind both cream and sugar, but are revealed in the finish as a bitter aftertaste. Many new product formulators outside the coffee industry use strictly instant coffees in applications in such applications. Even when coffee is in the third place in any flavor formulation, keep the ratio of instant coffee to pure extracts at 50% or below. Fortified extracts with ratios in this range provide a clean finish and nice aroma, with a favorable economic yield. While you would never make a cup of black coffee with a 47 brix, 50/50 formulated extract, one gallon can make 50 gallons of RTD beverages or 120 gallons of ice cream.

4 Coffee taste in the forth position is when coffee is well hidden behind three or more layers of other flavors and textures.

In this situation the word 'coffee' is on the label, but coffee is not a significant player with numerous other tastes dominating. Perhaps the greatest value that the coffee supplies the beverage or ice cream is in the background, so the consumer will recognize it as a coffee product. Fourth position coffee products are entry level coffee drinks for people looking for the stimulus of caffeine, but they are not necessarily coffee drinkers. The taste of milk, sugar, and flavorings dominate these beverages, so it is important that they all be quality ingredients. Perhaps these entry level consumers' taste will mature to desire a true coffee beverage in the future.

In such formulations, the use of 100% instant is quite acceptable and easily economically justified. Be aware that many "coffee extract companies" make extracts for these applications by simply mixing high levels of instant coffee with hot water to make "high ratio extracts." Often made in crude tub mixers, these products are sold at ratios from 60 to 1 up to 159 to 1. The quality of both the water and the grade of instants used are not necessarily very high. Uses for this product can range from entry level coffee drinks to prison coffee contracts strictly interested in price. Some of these "extracts" start out as low brix pure extracts from roast and ground beans that were processed either hot or cold, which result in a low brix extract. These low brix extracts are then heavily fortified to bring them to between 30 to 1 and 159 to 1. Because the basic extract has low brix, it also has low coffee identity in terms of flavor and fragrance.

Pure coffee extracts should be used in critical coffee flavor forwards applications as well as in secondary flavor formulations by coffee roasters. The secondary flavor applications using moderately fortified extracts blends are an economic way to add RTDs and ice creams to your product line. When high brix pure extracts are fortified with instants, the result is dominated by the high brix extract. When beverages and ice creams use coffee in the third position, extracts with no greater than 50% instants can be used. Formulations that place coffee in the fourth position can use extracts made with 100% instants.

Coffee is the world's best beverage, and formulated RTD products (both hot and cold) that use coffee extracts as a basis can bring new customers into the market. These guidelines are helpful in analyzing potential opportunities for utilizing coffee in the world of extracts.

Paul Kalenian is founder and president of X Cafe LLC, a. manufacturer of shelf-stable liquid coffee extracts X Cafe LLC, PO Box 1100, Princeton, MA 0154, Tel: (1)(978) 464-8010, E-mail, Web:
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Title Annotation:comparative analysis of coffee production
Author:Kalenian, Paul A.
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 20, 2006
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