Coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages globally, with around 2.4 billion cups drank every day. To meet this high demand, massive amounts of coffee beans are harvested and processed into the instant coffee many people enjoy. Let’s take an in-depth look at how one of the biggest coffee brands, Nestlé, produces millions of jars of soluble coffee daily at its state-of-the-art factory.
Coffee’s Global Popularity and History
Coffee has been cultivated for over 1,000 years and is now farmed in more than 60 countries. The origins of Nestlé’s instant coffee brand Nescafé date back to the early 1900s when Swiss chemist Max Morgenthaler invented a process for making soluble coffee. In 1930, Nestlé obtained the rights to Morgenthaler’s patent and began manufacturing instant coffee under the Nescafé name. Through heavy marketing and advertising, Nescafé quickly became a top coffee brand worldwide.
How Coffee Is Harvested
Coffee grows on plants in the form of cherry-like berries that turn bright red when ripe. Skilled harvesters handpick only the ripe berries, leaving unripe ones to mature further. The harvested berries are collected in sacks, with each sack containing about 2 kg of beans – enough to make around 200 cups of coffee. Some larger farms use harvesting machines that vibrate to shake ripe berries off the branches. The fresher the berry, the better its flavor, so berries picked in the morning go quickly to processing.
Processing the Beans
At processing mills, the berries are washed and the outer skin and fruit removed. The beans are squeezed out and sieved to separate them from unripe beans. The beans are soaked in water to extract sugary mucilage and then dried outdoors over four days. Next, a machine removes the dry outer husk from the dried beans. The husk-less beans are sorted by weight and packed into 69 kg bags to be shipped to coffee factories.
Producing Soluble Coffee
At Nestlé’s instant coffee factory, up to 560 tons of coffee beans are stored in a giant silo. Every day, 1,200 bags of beans enter the plant. Samples from each bag are tested before being approved for processing. The beans are cleaned, roasted at 210°C for 12 minutes to develop flavor, and ground into a coarse powder. The coffee powder is mixed with hot water to extract the flavors and aromas. The coffee extract is frozen at -50°C, turned into granules, and dried by sublimation in a vacuum chamber to remove all moisture.
Filling and Packaging
The dried coffee granules are filled into glass jars – 280 jars per minute! The jars are vacuum sealed to preserve freshness for 24 months, labeled, and packaged. From the factory, millions of jars make their way to supermarket shelves each day.
The journey from coffee berry to instant coffee jar involves meticulous harvesting, processing, and production methods. Nestlé has perfected the process to deliver quality soluble coffee globally. The scale of operations is immense, with 175,000 jars rolling off the production line daily. Next time you enjoy a cup of instant coffee, think of the fascinating process behind its creation!