There are many beverages that can be made well on a small scale but struggle to maintain the same quality and consistency on a large scale. Cold brew coffee happens to be one such beverage. Historically, cold brew coffee takes time to make and tastes best when made in smaller batches. This poses great challenges - particularly for cold brew manufacturing brands that want to bottle and sell their product.
But this is no longer the reality after a recent project that is already on its way to transforming the cold brew beverage industry.
Craft beverage technology leader BKON has 22 patents for their Reverse Atmospheric Infusion (RAIN) technology – a method that has allowed them to successfully commercialize their single-serve cold brew platform. BKON wanted to scale this same RAIN technology way up, thereby empowering beverage brands to make more cold brew, while still maintaining the small batch quality.
In order to execute on its vision for this RAIN-powered system called the STORM unit, BKON partnered with my company, Oat Foundry, to build the system.
We helped bring BKON’s vision for the STORM unit to reality in our shop with a process that required detailed planning and a number of different engineering disciplines: mechanical design, piping, and instrumentation (P&ID), control systems, electrical, process flow, food safety and more.
We used cutting-edge software to lay out the P&ID, the 3D CAD model, and the programmable logic controls, carefully designing the subsystems while keeping final assembly in mind. Adhering closely to the design plans, our engineers worked to weld, grind, wire, polish, clamp, solder, and mount all components in place to get the unit functioning in our shop.
Eventually, the system came together as planned and was ready for testing.
Once built, the BKON Storm Craft Brewer went through rigorous machine and recipe testing. After several trial runs with water – which required the team to tweak setpoints and fittings throughout the system – the production system was ready to run a full batch.
Various pumps, sanitary fittings, pressure regulators, flow sensors, and a pantheon of rugged, low voltage PLCs and control pneumatics allow the machine to effectively brew large batches of cold brew coffee. The system measures and dispenses both fluid and coffee grinds, and is able to regulate pressures, temperatures, and weights.
The final solution brews up to 32 times faster than the traditional immersion method of cold brewing and brews in as little as 45 minutes opposed to 24 hours.
Many more gallons of water and pounds of coffee grounds later, we developed a standardized process that is ready for BKON to show to their customers as an example that large-scale, high quality, cold brew coffee production is indeed possible.