Flavourtech developed their Integrated Extraction System (IES) in the late 1990s to meet the challenges faced by many Ready To Drink (RTD) manufacturers who were previously using batch methods in their production process.

Labour intensive and high space requirement of batch processes. Loss of freshly brewed flavour notes from coffee and desirable light fresh notes from tea. Inconsistent brewing of tea risking heavy stewed notes in the final product. Inefficient extraction of total solids. Multiple forklift movements within the factory leading to unsafe environments. Lack of flexibility in product output for different markets. These were just some of the challenges that manufacturers needed to overcome.

Installation of IES technology over the last 25 years has assisted manufacturers around the world in overcoming these challenges and becoming market leaders in their territory. In one specific case, within a few short years, a manufacturer in Asia rose from seventh-placed laggard to market leader in their locality. They later opined on the “flexibility and ease of use of the IES to produce multiple products to meet the ever-changing taste preferences of consumers”.

Paul Ahn, Flavourtech’s Global Sales Manager, has overseen years of technological evolution and played a key role in the IES’s deployment. Here he answers questions regarding the innovative IES and how it is helping beverage manufacturers across the globe produce high quality RTD tea and coffee.

What is the IES?

Flavourtech’s Integrated Extraction System (IES) is a unique and revolutionary way to produce premium liquid extracts and aromas. Although specifically tailored for coffee and tea, the IES may be used with a variety of botanicals.

What are the key characteristics of the IES?

One of the IES’s outstanding attributes is its ability to capture and preserve key flavour notes for inclusion in the final extract. Aromatic compounds of fresh-brewed roast and ground coffee, or distinctive varietal characteristics exclusive to tea blends, are captured at their peak quality, neither damaged nor destroyed. It also offers the versatility of a continuous modular system. The unmatched flexibility of this modular approach means that some of the individual modules can actually be combined with existing processes. Some of Flavourtech’s clients have elected to adopt the IES on a graduated basis over time.

What is unique about the IES?

The IES is the first system in the world to couple state-of-the-art flavour recovery technology, as used by the world’s leading flavour houses, with the extraction of soluble solids. At the core of the system is Flavourtech’s Spinning Cone Column (SCC), now widely acknowledged as the world’s premier flavour recovery technology. The SCC is the fastest, most efficient method for capturing and preserving volatile flavour components from all kinds of liquid and slurry substances. When a slurry of coffee beans or tea leaves and water is introduced into the SCC, the beverage is literally brewed within the closed system. The SCC effectively performs the dual roles of flavour extraction and soluble solids extraction simultaneously – thus avoiding intermediate flavour loss or degradation.

What is the significance of slurry processing?

Green tea slurry, from which the SCC can capture elusive flavour compounds.

The SCC’s ability to process slurries is a breakthrough in flavour recovery. When solids are present, the capture of key flavour compounds is far more complete than when a liquid extract alone passes through the flavour extraction process. In the case of coffee, the IES generates a coffee extract with a high level of flavour that is generously weighted in desirable front-end components.

Are we really talking about an extract with more flavour than fresh-brewed?

That’s right. Most commercially available coffee and tea extracts simply don’t contain the aroma characteristics reminiscent of a good fresh brew. Even the best fresh brew rarely captures all the distinctive aroma of the raw material – consider, for example, the aroma which escapes during coffee grinding.

IES modules utilise techniques to minimise flavour loss from the moment the flavour is at its freshest. With coffee, for instance, this is immediately after roasting. They also maximise flavour extraction during the brewing process. With the IES, it is possible to produce extracts complete with fresh roasted coffee characters or the light floral notes of Darjeeling tea. These extracts are absolutely superior to traditional products and often better than a fresh brew.

Can you explain each of the IES modules?

The IES is a modular system, based on the philosophy that individual modules can be combined and integrated to form a continuous processing line that suits specific applications and allows aroma recovery, extraction and concentration in one simple-to-operate system. A standard system consists of six main elements.

First, the Slurry Preparation module. This accepts roasted coffee beans, tea leaves or other plant material and employs specialised milling techniques to minimise flavour loss on comminution. It prepares and maintains a uniform slurry as the feed stream for the Flavour Extraction module.

Next up is the Flavour Extraction module. This, the heart of the system, employs Flavourtech’s Spinning Cone Column technology. The SCC, renowned for its ability to collect fragile volatile compounds without damage, captures the flavours unique to the raw material. This essence is separated and stored, avoiding the rigours of further processing. There are several options for flavour reincorporation including addition to the concentrate prior to packaging or addition immediately prior to product consumption.

Third is the optional High Temperature Extraction module.This consists of Flavourtech’s Rotating Disc Column, or RDC, a high temperature continuous and agitated extraction system designed specifically for the soluble coffee industry. The RDC allows dearomatised slurry exiting the SCC to be processed for extraction of soluble solids with a residence time of only 20 minutes.

Fourth, the Clarification module. This consists of several sub-stages. The first separates the liquid extract from the bulk solid material and the second removes any residual fines. An optional filtration stage allows further extract polishing.

Another optional module is the Washing module. This is particularly useful when it is desirable to maximise soluble solids extraction.

Finally, the Concentration module. The Centritherm® evaporator, thanks to its low operating temperatures and short residence times, produces premium quality concentrates with high levels of soluble solids.

What can the IES be used for?

The IES is extremely versatile. One day you can be making RTD tea, the next you can be processing coffee. This versatility also extends to the ability to capture different aroma profiles from the same raw material through the adjustment of certain operating parameters, and allows manufacturers to offer a variety of flavoured products to suit varying taste preferences.

I’ll give you some examples. One is RTD tea. The distinctive top notes of teas such as Darjeeling, Assam or Ceylon single estate teas are captured completely and without damage, allowing consumers to enjoy tea aromas representative of their region of origin in a premium RTD beverage. Another is RTD coffee. The natural aroma of roast and ground coffee is captured completely and without damage, allowing consumers to enjoy high-quality RTD coffee that can be served hot or cold. An IES equipped with the High Temperature Extraction Module can be used to produce soluble coffee with premium roast and ground aroma. This is just the start; it can also process a whole range of other botanical extracts and concentrates. And its applications don’t end there. As the IES is modular in design, each module can be operated separately. For example, the Flavour Extraction module could be used for producing natural flavours from fruit mash and the Concentration module could be used to evaporate tropical fruit juices. The possibilities are truly endless!

Who are Flavourtech?

Flavourtech is an Australian manufacturer of unique processing equipment for aroma recovery, dealcoholisation, extraction and evaporation. Food and beverage processors around the world have adopted Flavourtech’s technologies to improve product quality and differentiate themselves from competitors. With a focus on new technologies, quality manufacturing and customer support, Flavourtech employ highly skilled engineers and technicians and are supported by a network of agents and distributors across the globe.

For F&B industry leaders, working with an expert partner can catalyse adoption of time-saving, profit boosting technologies like the IES. Flavourtech has decades of experience pioneering continuous processing innovations and is on hand to help. Download the whitepaper on this page to find out more.