Nitrogen Generation Technology Used for Storing and Packaging Coffee

- May 27, 2019-

Nitrogen Generators are a cost-effective and convenient source of Nitrogen gas for maintaining coffee freshness in packaging from roasting to brewing. Controlling the exposure of coffee beans to oxygen is critical to taste and freshness. Coffee beans that are not properly preserved after roasting will lose too much carbon dioxide, which accelerates staling and allows volatile aromas to escape, weakening flavor.


Packaging Coffee with Nitrogen Flush

Adding a Nitrogen gas flush to the process of packaging ground or whole bean coffee soon after roasting pushes residual O2 out of the packaging. The pressure of the Nitrogen gas inside the sealed package promotes proper aging of the coffee by slowing down the degassing or loss of CO2. This also traps the volatile aromas within the space, improving the flavor and creating a stable atmosphere for long term storage. The effect is to maintain freshness for long-distance transport of bulk coffee, and extend shelf life once the packaged coffee reaches the retailer.


Nitrogen Generators for Bulk Coffee Storage

Freshly roasted coffee beans can also be stored in airtight silos for up to a month, if they are not packaged right after roasting. The silos are purged with Nitrogen gas to reduce the oxygen content to 3% or less, as they are initially filled with the beans. The Nitrogen generator then maintains a continuous blanket of Nitrogen gas on the supply of beans, to keep them fresh as the stored product is drawn down later for packaging.


Nitrogen Generators for K-Cup and Coffee Pod Filling Machines

Individually portioned K-cups and coffee pods are flushed with N2 and then sealed against moisture, light, and oxygen. Nitrogen gas is introduced as the cups pass through the filling chamber of the package and seal machine, with the goal of lowering O2 to levels of 3% or less in the sealed cups. This provides even longer shelf life for the pods than traditionally packaged coffee.


Nitrogen gas purity requirements for packaging typically range from 99% to 99.9%, depending upon the type of packaging equipment, number of gas ports to the machines, N2 flushes per bag that are required, or other factors such as targeted residual Oxygen levels in sealed packaging.


Nitrogen Infused Coffee

More recently, Nitrogen Generators have also been used to supply the nitrogen injected into coffee beverage service. “Nitro Coffee” is infused with pressurized Nitrogen gas or a Nitrogen/CO2 gas blend, chilled in a keg, and served on tap like a beer. The result is a less bitter coffee beverage, topped with a foamy head and enjoyed cold rather than hot.