Not many of us understand the difference when it comes to manufacturing black coffee as opposed to instant. Truth of the matter, manufacturing black coffee is quite simple and can be done from home and even in the outdoors. All you have to do is buy green coffee beans, roast them in an oven and…that’s it! But it’s the factory manufacturing that gives it that extra “something”.
As opposed to black coffee, instant coffee is more challenging. Instead of simply grinding, we have to shred the coffee beans, then cook and extract them in high pressure and temperature. Above the extraction a concentrate is created and below, its heavier residue (un-melted beans). We then dry the dark concentrate and turn it into powder, the same powder known as the popular “Café na-mes” (melting coffee) brand. This process would be difficult to implement at home due to lack of required equipment and conditions.
It’s many people’s belief that black coffee has a higher caffeine concentration than instant. Maybe it’s because we relate caffeine to the stronger color and aroma. The truth is that the caffeine level in instant Coffee is 2.5 times in volume than roasted black coffee. But because we use a lot more black coffee powder for our good ol’ cup of coffee, we therefore receive more caffeine through the latter.
Quality assurance demands continuous attention to taste and scent throughout every stage of the process (and not just at the end). Examining the level of quality begins the moment we receive our raw materials. We receive beans from all over the world, including Vietnam, Uganda, Honduras, India and more. The quality testing is initially executed on arrival to the plant, and continues at all phases; from grinding, to roasting, to cooking and finally at packaging.
Because coffee powder is made up of different types (blends) of coffee beans, and due to the fact that the quality of the beans can actually change on the go from the port to the factory, we must make sure that we preserve the familiar (or “correct”) taste every step of the process. Different types of beans demand different levels of roast. Being that, there is no alternative to implementing quality assurance at all times. Generally a light roast will result in a sourly flavor, as opposed to a more bitter taste, resulting from a longer roast. But there are types that when exposed to a long roast will result in an aftertaste, some desired and others not so. By now we are used to the frequent calls to converge in the monitoring room, there we stand together, add our impressions on the beans, smell and, yes, taste.
The grinding is suited with the type of bean and preparation process (for instance, filtered Turkish coffee as opposed to finely minced coffee). A good example of this is the fact that one cannot use coffee intended for espresso and turn it into black “mud” coffee. The grinding has importance not only on the result of the cooking quality, but also on the specific size of granules used.
In reality, the coffee undergoes a spoiling process, the moment after its grinding. This is a very fast process due to oxidation. This is the reason it’s so important to package the coffee within minutes of its grinding. During this time, we hold the coffee in an inert atmosphere, hermetically sealed from oxygen or human touch. In the packaging we add nitrogen (CO2).
You’ll be happy to hear that as opposed to canned food, a “puffy” coffee package indicates good quality. The volume assures us that the package is sealed, and that the coffee inside emits CO2. You should even be glad for a “puffy” coffee can…although you must remember to carefully open the can, because the vacuum might lead to a coffee scattering in all directions!
As mentioned before, taste tests are held throughout every step in the manufacturing process. We apply a full team of coffee expert tasters (at least 4 people each time), for every phase of the roasting and packaging. But that’s not all; for instance, in our coffee plant in Lod (located in central Israel), our tasting panel consists of 18 people! But more on that in my next post…stay tuned…