There are many things that link Bühler with Melitta – seller of coffee, coffee making machines and filters, with headquarters in Minden in north-west Germany. Exceptional, pioneering individuals started both businesses, more than 100 years ago. And, despite very humble beginnings, both developed into highly successful, internationally active ventures, still family-owned, renown for innovation and commitment to quality and excellence. So perhaps it is fitting that Melitta turned to Bühler to supply cutting-edge sorting technology that will ensure that only the very finest roasted beans make it through into finished products. Nermin Alagić, European Territory Manager Sortex and Rice, explains: “Melitta had been looking for an optical sorter to remove broken, under and over-roasted coffee beans, as well as foreign materials, such as very small sticks and stones. Crucially, this had to be achieved in one pass. “Melitta has invested in two of our innovative optical sorters – the SORTEX Z+R, with Enhanced InGaAs and PROfile shape technology. The two module sorter was installed last April, at their roasting plant in Bremen, to be followed by a three module sorter in August 2013. Whether it’s coffee beans or other raw foodstuffs, the SORTEX Z+ determines purity with exceptional accuracy, at very high speeds. Whether by colour, shape or other optical properties, sub-standard product and foreign materials can be identified and separated from the product stream with exceptional accuracy.”
When roasted, coffee beans and sticks and stones can have the same colour. However, InGaAs technology can identify the difference, based on chemical properties. Removing sticks and stones not only helps to ensure that the final product looks and tastes great, it also prevents damage to grinding machinery, used further along in the process. Nermin continues: “PROfile [shape recognition] technology can pick out broken beans, which can then be removed, to ensure the uniform appearance of the product. Colour camera technology can detect under- and over-roasted beans and removing these helps to ensure that the coffee tastes as good as possible”. Rene Huber is Production Manager at Melitta’s processing plant in Bremen. He says: “I have been delighted with the SORTEX optical sorter, which is why I have ordered another – they are quick and the quality of their performance is consistently high. Their ability to remove foreign materials and defective beans in one pass was critical for us and Bühler’s technology provides a superb solution. We have also been extremely satisfied with the local customer service support we have received from Bühler’s Salzburg office”. Melitta was also attracted to Bühler because it could provide the entire spectrum of coffee processing technologies, rather than having to deal with multiple companies. Since the installation of the SORTEX Z+ Melitta has bought a state-of-the-art coffee bean grinder and is looking to invest in other equipment that will ensure the quality of its coffee remains as good as ever.