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Soluble Themes
U.S. Nutraceuticals in Florida has developed technology for the separation and recovery of both oil solubles and water solubles from the roasted coffee bean. ďThis technology is based on extraction of the roast coffee oil with supercritical carbon dioxide,Ē explained Dr. Tony Evans, vice president of product development at the company. ďThis technology leaves an absolutely pure residue [free from any contaminating organic solvents] from which the water-soluble flavor components can be obtained by simple aqueous extraction. The roast coffee oil and water-solubles can be recombined to suit a variety of targeted flavor applications. This program is now entering the commercialization stage as USNís new ultra-high pressure Supercritical Extraction Facility in Eustis, Florida, comes on stream this month [April].Ē Grace Torbus, president of Tonex Inc. in Wallington, New Jersey has developed a product for people who canít drink coffee due to health reasons. ďWe have a ground coffee thatís acid free. If somebody has intolerance to coffee and they have stomach problems from it, they can drink this product. Itís a Colombian coffee. Thatís a fairly new product in the market.Ē Tonex has a large business in the super market industry when it comes to instants and cappuccinos, especially because they make them less fattening than the other choices out there in the market. Torbus talks about their product, ďOur cappuccino is probably one of the only ones out in the market with the lowest amount of calories. We donít add that many sugars or sweeteners into it.Ē

Torbus has definitely seen an effect of the low market in certain areas, plus she sees the U.S. market leveling off a bit. She explained, ďI would say the consumption dropped. Itís starting to pick up right now. It had quite a large effect in our European market, but it didnít have an effect when it went out towards the Russian countries. That market actually stayed the same. Itís because itís the same thing as it was a few years ago in the eastern block countries where itís a novelty, itís a new product. People want something a little more exclusive than, for example, what they were drinking before. I think the market there is only going to grow. Where you come here in the U.S, the market becomes saturated. Thereís only a certain amount of truckloads that you can get out some place. And then once everybodyís tried something once, then they slow down.Ē

In terms of quality, like many others, Torbus believes that coffee drinkers are much more savvy. ďI think our market is getting more specific. People are not into just coffee anymore. They are more specific into what type of coffee they drink. They want something with flavor. The soluble coffee industry depends on the vitality of its members. While few observers have predicted its demise, many have suggested that it is both losing relevance and becoming moribund. Judging from the preceding comments, however, it seems that the opposite view might paint a clearer picture of the soluble coffee industryís status at present.Ē

Timothy J. Castle is the president of Castle Communications, a company specializing in marketing and public relations for the coffee and tea industries. He is also the co-author (with Joan Nielsen) of The Great Coffee Book, recently published by Ten Speed Press, and the author of The Perfect Cup (Perseus Books). He may be reached at (310) 479-7370 or via e-mail at: qahwah@aol.com.

Tea & Coffee - May/June 2002

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