Instant beverage powder mixed homogeneously
Instant drink powders can be stored well when dried, but soon dissolve or swell when they come into contact with a suitable liquid. The soft drink created in this way is ideally homogeneously mixed straight away and can be drunk immediately.
Drink powder in a sachet, effervescent tablets in straws, medicines as a direct granulate to dissolve on your tongue, ice tea powder in wide-necked vessels, cappuccino in a sachet, cold brew tea bags or energy drinks for sport – even if we are not aware of it, we encounter instant drinks every day in a wide range of forms. Powder is added to drinking water and immediately you have a drink, be it at home, in space, in a submarine or when travelling. Although the instant powder appears to be a normal, sugary bulk product at first glance, it is no mean feat to combine the properties such as bio-availability, mouthfeel and aroma and pleasant taste. Instant drinks achieve record sales because they are industrially and profitably produced.
Ideal homogeneity with minimum energy input
Thanks to the SinConvex® mixing tool, amixon® conical mixers achieve ideal mixing qualities that cannot be improved upon in practice.
Feeding and discharging is done by means of standard containers. In this respect, the operations: Dosing, Charging, Mixing and Filling of the mixed materials are decoupled. The plant is particularly ergonomically designed and meets the highest hygiene requirements. It can be cleaned either dry or wet. Free-flowing goods are emptied completely.
a. Standard container for 1500 liters with dust filter
b. Docking system for containers (dust-tight) with vibrating device
c. Screening machine (can be quickly dismantled, easy to clean)
d. Inlet connection to the amixon® mixer with inspection flap free of dead space - safety locked
e. Large inspection door on amixon® conical mixer AM 1500
f. Outlet socket with large inspection flap
g. Optionally the same charging container can be used
All inspection openings free of dead space in the Clever-Cut® design manufactured with OmgaSeal®. They are permanently gas and dust tight.
Clever-Cut GmbH belongs to the amixon group and can process three-dimensional large components.
Preservation through dehydration; hygiene is a key success factor
Even though the origin of instant drinks dates from the 20th century, the central idea, namely preserving by removing the water, goes way back in time. In 1925, the founders of Robert Frigeo GmbH developed “Ahoy Brause”, which is still familiar today, as an affordable lemonade powder for the broad population. Irrespective of the fact that Ahoy Brause powder has even been drunk with melted snow on Himalayan expeditions, the consumer did not see it as a typical drink powder at all. To this day it is more of a sweet-sour treat for children, who enjoy the powder tingling in their mouth without adding water. Sodium hydrogen carbonate, reacts with edible acids such as citric, tartaric and malic acid.
In 1937, Max Morgenthaler, a food technologist from the Nestlé company, developed an instant coffee for a very different reason. The availability of coffee beans was very inconsistent. Sometimes more coffee beans were harvested than could be sold and the coffee was at risk of going to waste; at other times the harvest yields were smaller than the demand. Spray-dried or in the form of a freeze-dried granulate, not only was it possible to store the coffee longer, but this also tapped into a new clientèle, which particularly appreciated the fast preparation of coffee as a hot drink.
The range of instant beverages is vast and growing all the time
Today there is the widest variety of instant coffee-mix drinks; may hot drinks are even prepared for vending machines. But they must be produced carefully and gently. A cappuccino-mix drink consists of many components. There is the sugar, which has been finely ground and agglomerated beforehand, the milk-cream powder mixture – both spray-dried and agglomerated, the soluble coffee and various flavours. A composition of particularly sensitive products, which ideally need to be precisely mixed. Amixon provides special support here, with a choice of high-performance twin-shaft mixers or KoneSlid® mixers. The manufacturer of precision mixers from Paderborn has nearly 40 years of experience in the mixing of the most sensitive products and guarantees not only ideal mixing qualities, but moreover ensures that the products are mixed with minimum energy input in an extremely short time. In this way a mixing process can even be optimised if the brand producer wants, for example, the cappuccino to give off snow-white and dark brown foam bubbles when the water is poured on and stirring in the cup to be almost unnecessary.
The success story of instant drinks continues to this day. Twenty years after the invention of instant coffee, the food technologist, William Mitchell, developed the Tang drink powder for General Foods. Blending the instant powder and cold drinking water produced an outstanding soft drink with various fruit flavours. Even manned space travel participated in the success. Tang was enhanced with high quality vitamins, active ingredients similar to nature and trace elements. In 1969 this further development took supplied the Apollo crew with drinks on its journey to the moon and back. Instant drinks are therefore indispensable for military operations and when it comes to supplying crisis areas. Increased sugar content and starch derivatives can compensate energy deficits in the body in the short term. In professional circles it is known that the bio-availability of ingredients is only preserved if the mixing process is done with a low shear arrangement. Amorphous particle structures from the spray granulation process should not re-crystallise due to pressure and friction. Any shear stress during mixing should be omitted.
Schematic of an agglomeration plant
a. KoneSlid® mixer with large inspection door
b. Conical closing and dosing element: pourable materials can be discharged completely in a few seconds. completely discharged in a few seconds
c. Fluid bed agglomerator/ cooler with control screen
d. Several gravimetric feeders for powdered nutrient additives
e. Hygienic transfer tube
f. KoneSlid® mixer 1 on load cells
g. KoneSlid® Mixer 2 on load cells
h. Collecting hopper
i. Filling machine for end users; packing: Bags, cans, folding boxes.
All inspection openings free of dead space in the Clever-Cut® design manufactured with OmgaSeal®. They are permanently gas- and dust-tight.
Country-specific taste preferences determine the recipe ingredients
Instant drink powders are made up of agglomerated individual components – many of them come in encapsulated form. They too are sensitive to abrasion. Dusts that develop due to the mixed material particles rubbing together and becoming rounded, not only change the taste. The fines collect at the bottom of the packaging and give the impression that it is a low-quality residue material. What is more, the dust tends to float on the liquid, making it difficult to sink down. In the worst case, the dust fraction of the powder becomes surrounded and forms lumps that are difficult to dissolve. The problem can only be solved by the mixer quickly achieving ideal mixing qualities, and by doing this with slowly rotating mixing tools and minimum energy input.
With the powder recipe, other product-specific properties are defined, such as clouding, texture, viscosity, mouthfeel and colouring. The taste preferences specific to certain countries are interesting. Whilst pineapple and orange are among the favourite flavours in South America, mango ranks well above orange in the Arabic-Persian region. Whereas lychee is preferred more in cold drinks in many Asian countries. There are also seasonal differences in demand. The fasting month of Ramadan is an example of this. Many followers of the Islamic faith then only eat and drink in the period from sunset to sunrise. In this respect, the demand for invigorating and nourishing drink powders is increased.
Aside from the taste preferences of the consumers, the integrity of the drink is essential. The powdered form of the drink has several benefits. With a water activity of well below 4 %, microbiological stability is ensured over the long term. Assuming clean production conditions and suitable forms of packaging, the instant drink powder will remain free of toxic moulds even without cooling. Liquid high concentrates can scarcely only provide this level of safety.
Instant beverages and instant foods are high-yielding and valuable
From an economic and ecological viewpoint, it should be noted: for the preparation of a 200-g drink portion, only 20 g of drink powder are needed. Instant drink powders are space-saving compressed products, which normally require no cooling. Transporting them over long distances to different climate zones usually causes no difficulty if the packaging is suitable.
If we take a look at the dried milk-based liquid foods such as baby formula or those for older people, then the quantity ratios of the solid-liquid compositions look similar, even though the bulk densities of the powders are lower. The chain of upstream production steps is usually longer here than for sugar-based soft drinks.
Milk is mixed with a wide range of nutrients and fruit derivatives before being turned into a nutritious powder via spray drying. A typical instant powder only exists, however, if it behaves as expected when water is added. It must have good instant solubility. This procedure of fast, complete wetting is no simple matter, because the air in the powder must escape from the bulk product to the extent that the powder passes the liquid level and sinks down. The solubility, the sinking behaviour and the dispersibility of the powder in the liquid phase must meet consumer expectations. A spray-dried powder can only fulfil the corresponding dispersibility and solubility kinetics as a rule if it is agglomerated and conditioned in a fluidised bed. This applies in particular to instant drinking chocolate. Normally the cocoa would not distribute in the water. If, however, it is agglomerated with sugar and dried milk derivatives whilst adding small, evenly distributed lecithin additives, the result is an excellent drink with “guaranteed success”.
At this point, two quality attributes relating to manufacturing should be addressed: hygiene and traceability with the best possible batch reproducibility. If we assumed that we had a mixing plant, which emptied itself 100 % automatically, then any cleaning would be superfluous. In practice that is, in fact, barely attainable, but there are interesting achievements in bulk material mixing technology that come very close to the target of nearly 100 % emptying in just a few seconds. The amixon KoneSlid® batch mixer presented previously has been specially developed for residue-free emptying.
No matter whether end users operate with rinsing batches or whether they explicitly carry out a dry or wet cleaning process, the ergonomic accessibility of all the relevant machine parts is important. If automatic wet cleaning (washing in place) has to take place several times a day to meet Halal requirements or the approval for kosher products, then it is all the more important that the mixing plant dries quickly and reliably. The cleaning procedures are identical if non-allergenic products and those containing allergens are produced on the same mixing plant.
The unwanted oxidisation of the instant drink powder can be countered by clever inertisation: devices made by amixon are not only permanently gastight, but also pressure/vacuum-resistant. As a result, a vacuum of minus 950 mbar can be applied during mixing to remove the ambient air/oxygen from the powder. The atmospheric pressure is then restored in the mixer by introducing nitrogen/carbon dioxide gas mixtures.
Complete discharge and cleaning control
At this point, two production-related quality features should be mentioned: Hygiene and traceability with the best possible batch fidelity. If we allow ourselves to assume that we would have a mixing plant that empties itself 100 % automatically, then any cleaning would be superfluous. This is hardly achievable in practice, but there are new interesting achievements in bulk material mixing technology that come very close to the goal of almost 100% emptying within a few seconds. The KoneSlid® batch mixer from amixon shown above has been specially developed for residue-free emptying.
Regardless of whether end users rinse batches or whether they are explicitly carrying out dry or wet cleaning, the ergonomic the ergonomic accessibility of all relevant system parts is important. If automatic wet cleaning (washing-in-place) has to take place several times a day in order to meet halal requirements or the approval for kosher goods, then it is all the more important that the mixing plant dries quickly and safely. The procedures are identical when non-allergenic and allergenic goods are produced on the same and allergenic goods are produced on the same mixing plant.
WaterDragon® works automatically and can clean and dry your mixer wet
Automatic wet cleaning:
a) WaterDragon® opened, the washing nozzle is expanded out. The washing nozzle rotates slowly and sprays the washing water forward, to the side and to the rear without dead space.
b) After wet cleaning, warm air is blown from the WaterDragon® into the mixing chamber. Drying is extremely fast and efficient.
c) After drying: The washing nozzle retracts. WaterDragon® closes without dead space.
d) Wet cleaning of the HM 7000
The ranking of the various amixon® mixers VM, AM, KS and HM indicates that the mixers can meet different needs such as:
- particularly low cost
- broad process engineering applicability
- extremely low energy input - gentle mixing effect - pressure and vacuum resistant design
Uncompromisingly apply to all amixon® mixers equally:
- ideal mixing qualities and
- highest hygienic standards
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