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Innovative microwave coffee brewers to hit market.

Innovative microwave coffee brewers to hit market

Apparatus for brewing coffee in a microwave oven is being introduced this year as the latest innovative method for the preparation of this brew. It will undoubtedly captivate the imagination of forward looking individuals, ever seeking a better or different procedure for home extraction. How long, then, will it be before a microwave system for home roasting becomes available?

Such a unit, of course, poses no threat to commercial roasters, any more than hand roasting of green by gourmet shops does. But such a unit could create a fairly rapid circle for having the freshest coffee possible: From green to cup in a few minutes. Initially seperate units would be required to combine roasting and grinding in one unit and eventually extraction could be included. Technically it is possible today. Whether it can be produced at reasonable cost and with outstanding quality remains to be demonstrated.

The new brewer is being marketed by Farberware--a well respected name in pots and pans and other household necessities. The device, trademarked "Microbrew" prepares about two cups in four minutes. The contrivance is a 6.5 inch high unit that utilizes a combination drip and percolator style.

Ground coffee is loaded into a paper cone filter, positioned just under the chamber that holds two cups of water. In the middle of the chamber is a small cylinder that becomes a pump when heated by microwaves, delivering hot water to the grounds. In a few minutes, the two cups of brew are ready. With microwave ovens in well over 75 percent of American kitchens, this method could become quite attractive to consumers with little time to spend on making coffee.

Actually this is not the speediest way to prepare home coffee. A teaspoonful of instant in a cup of water, heated in a microwave on high will be ready in one and a half minutes; but for those who prefer their brew from ground roasted, this probably is the quickest.

Although microwave cooking is rapidly becoming the most popular form of utilizing heat in home food preparation, it is little understood outside of the scientific and engineering community. Basically, heat, a form of energy, may be transmitted to food by conduction, convection or radiation. Conduction and convection are relatively slow, whereas radiation occurs at the speed of light, which is another form or radiation, and is the fastest speed achievable.

Radiation occurs as electromagnetic waves. There are thousands of different size waves, each having its special characteristics. For example, ordinary household elecricity operates at 60 waves or cycles per second. Radio stations keep their signals clear By broadcasting at assigned frequencies between 600,000 and 1.5 million waves or cycles per second. Television uses 50 to two million cycles, with UHF being in the 200 to a billion range. Microwave ovens have been assigned the very exact 2450 billion cycle channel. Infra red heating results from electromagnetic waves of one trillion cycles: while visible light occurs in the region between 423 trillion cycles for violet and 731 trillion for red.

All of these waves are often referred to as Hertzian waves, named after a 19th century German physics professor who demonstrated the identity of light and electromagnetic waves. This led to the development of radio, television, radar and other modern conveniences based on these phenomena.

Assignment of different wave lengths is under the jurisdiction of the Federal Communications Commission. Although the FCC has no interest in cooking per se, they selected the 2450 megahertz (million cycles) as the optimum for food preparation after it was discovered that these 4.5 inch wave lengths had the best rate of heat absorption by food and is far more efficient than infra red radiation heating.

Cooking in microwave ovens is analagous to sunlight heating. Both types of microwaves travel through glass and other transparent films without heating them. They deliver their energy to the contents of a transparent container rather than the container itself. This is why aluminum and other opaque vessels are not effective in this type of oven.

Early ovens were designed with a higher frequency and a wave length about 12 inches. This is fine for large pieces of food, but the first foods to be tested were items like hot dogs. To the early observers it appeared; that the food was cooking as rapidly on the inside as outside. They deduced that microwaves were cooking from the inside out, but this was never the case.

A practical, economical, efficient design of such a unit would not be easy to achieve. In the case of microwave brewing, half a dozen previous inventors received patents on units of this type. None have been successfully mass produced, largely because they were unwieldy and impractical.

Similar design problems face microwave roasting. But if a suitable product that could capture all of the aroma of freshly roasted, freshly ground coffee in the cup could be found, there would be no limit to the potential of such a unit.
COPYRIGHT 1989 Lockwood Trade Journal Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Author:Lee, Samuel
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Article Type:editorial
Date:Sep 1, 1989
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