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Title:
C. BOT PREVENTION IN INFUSED COFFEE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/173491
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A coffee product including a sealed container having a liquid portion and a headspace. The liquid portion has coffee with a non-oxygen gas dissolved therein and the headspace contains at least approximately 3% oxygen and an amount of a non-oxygen gas. A method of manufacturing the coffee includes dissolving oxygen into a liquid coffee product and packaging the liquid coffee product with oxygen dissolved therein into a sealed container.

Inventors:
BENSON, Janice (342 Dogford Road, Etna, New Hampshire, 03750, US)
SABKY, Oussama (77 Leonard Street, Dedham, Massachusetts, 02026, US)
Application Number:
US2019/020976
Publication Date:
September 12, 2019
Filing Date:
March 06, 2019
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
KERFLUMMOX HOLDINGS, LLC (PO Box 733, Hanover, New Hampshire, 03755, US)
International Classes:
A23F5/26; A23F5/24; B65D81/24; B67C7/00
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WINTER, Gene S. et al. (ST.ONGE STEWARD JOHNSTON & REENS LLC, 986 Bedford StreetStamford, Connecticut, 06905, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A method of manufacturing cold brew coffee comprising:

dissolving oxygen into a liquid coffee product brewed at a temperature less than 50° C and

packaging said liquid coffee product with oxygen dissolved therein into a sealed container wherein the sealed container has a partial pressure percentage of oxygen of at least approximately 3%.

2. The method of claim 1 , wherein said container is a single use container.

3. The method of claim 2, wherein said container is a metal can.

4. The method of claim 1 , wherein the container is a bottle.

5. The method of claim 1 , wherein the brew temperature of the liquid coffee product is 3 to 15° C.

6. The method of claim 1 further comprising:

feeding a coffee product brewed at a temperature less than 50° C from a vat into the container, wherein between the vat and container, the dissolving step occurs;

dispensing a non-oxygen gas into the container, the non-oxygen gas being a liquid when dispensed; and

sealing the container.

7. The method of claim 6, wherein the container has a headspace substantially including only oxygen and the non-oxygen gas.

8. The method of claim 6, wherein the dispensing step is done at a first rate measured in gallons per minute (gpm) and the dissolving step is accomplished by supplying a pressure of oxygen at a second rate measured in positive net pounds per square inch (psi) into an infuser such that the first rate divided by the second rate is a ratio in the range of 0.1 -10 gpm/psi.

9. The method of claim 8, wherein the ratio is 1-5 gpm/psi.

10. The method of claim 1 , wherein after the step of dissolving and prior to the step of packaging, the coffee is recirculated in a holding tank until the coffee having dissolved oxygen therein reaches an oxygen level of 10-40 ppm.

1 1. The method of claim 1 , wherein the partial pressure percentage of oxygen is less than 10%.

12. The method of claim 1 1 , wherein a total pressure of a gaseous portion of the sealed container in atmospheres times the partial pressure percentage of oxygen defines a pressure ratio which is 0.03-0.16.

13. The method of claim 12, wherein the pressure ratio is approximately 0.1 125.

14. The method of claim 6, wherein the non-oxygen gas is nitrogen.

15. A cold brew coffee product comprising:

a sealed container comprising a liquid portion and a headspace;

the liquid portion comprising coffee brewed at a temperature less than 50° C with a non-oxygen gas dissolved therein; the headspace containing at least approximately 3% oxygen and an amount of the non-oxygen gas.

16. The product of claim 15, wherein the non-oxygen gas is nitrogen.

17. The product of claim 15, wherein the headspace has a total pressure between 1 -4 atmospheres when the liquid portion is at a temperature of 3° C.

18. The product of claim 15, wherein the headspace contains

approximately 3-6% oxygen.

19. The product of claim 18, wherein the liquid portion has a pH of 4.6 or greater.

20. A method of manufacturing a stable nitrogen infused coffee product comprising the steps of: dissolving oxygen into a liquid coffee product brewed at temperature less than 50°C;

packaging the coffee product having dissolved oxygen therein into a container;

dispensing nitrogen into the container to produce a nitrogen infused coffee product; and

sealing the container,

wherein the nitrogen infused coffee product has a pH of 4.6 or greater and remains free of Clostridium botulinum (C. bot) when stored at refrigerated conditions.

21. The method of claim 20 wherein the pH is 5.0 or greater.

22. The method of claim 20 wherein the pH is 5.5-6.5.

23. The product of claim 18 wherein the pH is 5.0 or greater.

24. The product of claim 18 wherein the pH is 5.5-6.5.

25. A cold brew coffee product comprising:

a sealed container comprising a liquid portion and a headspace; the liquid portion comprising coffee brewed at a temperature less than 50° C with oxygen and a non-oxygen gas dissolved therein;

the headspace containing oxygen and an amount of the non-oxygen gas;

the liquid portion having a pH of 4.6 or greater

wherein the product is free of Clostridium botulinum (C. bot).

26. The product of claim 25 wherein the pH is 5.0 or greater.

27. The product of claim 25 wherein the pH is 5.5-6.5.

Description:
C. BOT PREVENTION IN INFUSED COFFEE

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The following relates to inhibiting growth of certain bacterium in coffee products. More particularly, the following relates to inhibiting

Clostridium botulinum (C. bot) in low acid cold beverages, particularly nitro coffees and cold brew coffees.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] Iced coffee has risen in popularity over the last decade. Iced coffee is standard hot brewed coffee that is chilled or served over ice.

[0003] An alternative to iced coffee is cold brew coffee. As compared to standard hot brewed coffee, cold brew coffee has a delicate flavor profile that is less acidic than hot brewed coffee. For this reason, some prefer cold brew coffee over hot brew coffee.

[0004] Recently, nitrogen infused cold brew coffee products have become popular, especially in single use cans. Nitro cold brew (NCB) coffee is an emergent food trend for ground, roasted coffee beans filtered slowly (steeped) through a cold, room temperature, or hot-bloom water brewing process for 8 or more hours (upper range ~36 hours). The beverage is stored anaerobically in cans or stainless steel kegs, and charged with nitrogen gas. The nitrogen gas infusion may be similar to the nitrogen widgets used for canned Guinness beer, and imparts small bubbles to the beverage which do not easily dissolve in water. This results in a creamy frothy head, imparting sweetness, less acidic taste and giving a fuller, thicker mouth feeling to NCB beverages when compared to regular coffee brews. Since the single use can product is relatively new, food safety requirements have been evolving. Recently, it has been discovered that growth of certain bacterium can be a problem in these products. Particularly, Clostridium botulinum (C. bot) has become a concern to both producers and regulators.

[0005] The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has become concerned with C. bot in cold brew coffee products. Current FDA guidelines on the prevention of C. bot in chilled products provide for several ways to inhibit growth. These processing guidelines for products with more than 10 day shelf life include: a heat treatment of 90°C for 10 minutes or equivalent lethality at the slowest heating point in the food; a pH of 5.0 or less throughout the food and throughout all components of complex foods; a minimum salt level of 3.5% in the aqueous phase throughout the food and throughout all components of complex foods; a water activity (aw) of 0.97 or less throughout the food and throughout all components of complex foods; a combination of heat and preservative factors which can be shown consistently to prevent growth and toxin production by non-proteolytic C. botulinum.

[0006] Thus, the existing guidelines that can be applied to a beverage include adding salt to a 3.5% salinity, producing a more acidic product (pH below 5.0), and heating the product in the packaging to 90° C or higher for 10 minutes.

[0007] All of the foregoing, although capable of inhibiting C. bot growth in cold brew nitro coffee, have the downside of altering the flavor profile of the product, which may result in an unsatisfactory taste to the consumer.

[0008] For example, heat can leave the cold brew coffee with a bitter and yeasty taste and a nitrogen dosed can has pressure limitations to the can due to the existing positive pressure already in that can at chilled

temperatures. Salt is not an option as it would alter the flavor and, while it may be possible to increase the acidity, this has the downside of departing from the flavor profile that makes nitrogen infused cold brew coffee a popular product. Cold brew coffee typically has a pH range of 5.5-6.5 and since the pH scale is logarithmic, a significant amount of acid would need to be added to get the beverage below pH 5.0.

[0009] US 2017/0231245 discloses a ready-to-drink cold brew coffee product with a shelf life up to one year without refrigeration before

consumption. However, the method of preparation involves heating a cold brewed mixture to a temperature of less than 100° C for less than 1 minute to thereby form a pre-fill coffee composition. After heating, the method includes pouring and increasing a temperature of the pre-fill coffee composition to at least 82.2° C and holding the coffee composition at the temperature of at least 82.2° C. for at least 30 seconds to form a filled coffee composition. As mentioned, this has the potential to affect the flavor profile of the cold brew. Moreover, the method does not address nitrogen dosing of the coffee.

[0010] The nitro coffee industry has generally believed that the addition of the nitrogen is not only important to provide for the gentle bubbled profile of the beverage but to also displace oxygen to inhibit growth of bacteria - particularly aerobic bacteria. Thus, the industry has generally tried to avoid oxygen within the canned coffee product. Oxygen also has another downside in that its presence generally limits shelf life in that the food processing industry often tries to remove oxygen in order to prolong shelf life.

[0011] Thus, both the food industry and the more niche nitro brew industry has sought to avoid oxygen. However, this lack of oxygen actually encourages C. bot growth as the bacterium thrives in an anaerobic

environment.

[0012] Therefore, there exists a need for a cold brew coffee product and processing method and system that inhibits C. bot growth while preserving the flavor profile and at the same time providing for suitable shelf life. [0013] There further exists a need for methods of manufacturing nitro coffee products, whether cold brewed, hot brewed, or iced, that inhibit C. bot growth and provide for suitable shelf life of the packaged product.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0014] Therefore, it is an object of the invention to supply a processing method that inhibits growth of C. bot in coffee products, and in particular nitro coffee products, for which there is a desired shelf life of greater than 10 days.

[0015] It is also an object of the invention to inhibit growth of C. bot in cold brew coffee products for which there is a desired shelf life of greater than 10 days.

[0016] It is a further object of the invention to inhibit growth of C. bot in pressurized canned low acidity beverages for which there is a desired shelf life of greater than 10 days.

[0017] These and other objects are achieved by provision of a method of manufacturing a cold brew coffee product comprising: dissolving oxygen into a liquid coffee product brewed at a temperature less than 50° C and packaging said liquid coffee product with oxygen dissolved therein into a sealed container.

[0018] In some embodiments, the method further comprises feeding a coffee product brewed at a temperature less than 50° C from a vat into the container, wherein between the vat and container, the dissolving step occurs; dispensing a non-oxygen gas into the container; and sealing the container.

[0019] In certain embodiments, the dispensing step is done at a first rate measured in gallons per minute (gpm) and the dissolving step is accomplished by supplying a pressure of oxygen at a second rate measured in positive net pounds per square inch (psi) into an infuser such that the first rate divided by the second rate is a ratio in the range of 0.1-10 gpm/psi. In some of those embodiments, the ratio is 1-8 gpm/psi or 1 -5 gpm/psi. In certain of those embodiments, the ratio is approximately 2 gpm/psi.

[0020] In some embodiments, after the step of dissolving, and prior to the step of packaging, the coffee is recirculated in a holding tank until the coffee having dissolved oxygen therein reaches an oxygen level of 10-40 ppm, more preferable 20-40 ppm.

[0021] In certain preferred embodiments, the container has a headspace substantially including only oxygen and a non-oxygen gas. In especially preferred embodiments, the non-oxygen gas is nitrogen.

[0022] In some embodiments, the sealed container has a partial pressure percentage of oxygen of at least 3% but less than 10%.

[0023] In certain embodiments, a total pressure of a gaseous portion of the sealed container in atmospheres times the partial pressure percentage of oxygen defines a pressure ratio which is 0.03-0.16. In some of those embodiments, the pressure ratio is approximately 0.1 125.

[0024] In some embodiments, the container is a single use container.

In certain embodiments, the container is a metal can. In other embodiments, the container is a glass bottle. In yet other embodiments, the container is a plastic bottle.

[0025] In certain embodiments, the brew temperature of the coffee is less than 30° C. In some preferred embodiments, the brew temperature is less than 15° C, more preferably 3-15° C. The invention further comprises a cold brew coffee product comprising a sealed container comprising a liquid portion and a headspace; the liquid portion comprising coffee brewed at a temperature less than 50° C with a non-oxygen gas dissolved therein; the headspace containing at least approximately 3% oxygen and an amount of a non-oxygen gas. The product has a shelf life greater than 10 days and remains free of C. bot when stored at refrigerated conditions. [0026] In preferred embodiments, the non-oxygen gas is nitrogen.

[0027] In some embodiments, the cold brew coffee product headspace has a total pressure between 1-4 atmospheres when the liquid portion is at a temperature of 3° C.

[0028] In certain embodiments, the gaseous portion contains approximately 3-6% oxygen.

[0029] In some embodiments, the liquid portion has a pH of 4.6 or greater, preferably 5.0 or greater, most preferably 5.5 to 6.5.

[0030] In certain embodiments, the coffee is brewed at less than 30° C. In some of those embodiments, the coffee is brewed at less than 25° C. In certain of those embodiments, the coffee is brewed at less than 15° C, most preferably 3-15° C.

[0031] In some embodiments, the coffee product exhibits 90 days of shelf life protected from C. bot growth.

[0032] In certain embodiments, the shelf life of a coffee product according to the invention stored at <10° C is 1 13 days.

[0033] In certain embodiments, the shelf life of a coffee product according to the invention stored at <10° C is 122 days.

[0034] In some embodiments, the shelf life of a coffee product according to the invention stored at <10° C is 126 days.

[0035] In certain embodiments, the shelf life of a coffee product according to the invention stored at <10° C is 153 days.

[0036] In certain embodiments, the shelf life of a coffee product according the invention will have a shelf life of 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, 120 days, 180 days, 270 days or 365 days, depending on storage conditions. In certain preferred embodiments, the product exhibits shelf life of 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, 120 days, 180 days, 270 days or 365 days upon storage at refrigerated conditions.

[0037] In other embodiments, the shelf life of a coffee product according the invention will have a shelf life of 1 month, 2 months, 3 months,

4 months, 5 months, 6 months, 7 months, 8 months, 9 months, 10 months, 1 1 months, or 12 months. In certain preferred embodiments, the product exhibits shelf life of 3 months, 4 months, 5 months, 6 months, 7 months, 8 months, 9 months, 10 months, 1 1 months, or 12 months upon storage at refrigerated conditions.

[0038] The invention also comprises a method of manufacturing a stable nitrogen infused coffee product comprising the steps of dissolving oxygen into a liquid coffee product; packaging the coffee product having dissolved oxygen therein into a container; dispensing nitrogen into the container to produce a nitrogen infused coffee product; and sealing the container, wherein the nitrogen infused coffee product remains free of C. bot when stored at refrigerated conditions.

[0039] In some embodiments of this method, the coffee product having dissolved oxygen therein contains 10-40 ppm oxygen. In some of those embodiments, the coffee product having dissolved oxygen therein contains 20-40 ppm oxygen.

[0040] In some embodiments, the sealed container has a partial pressure percentage of oxygen of at least 3% but less than 10%.

[0041] In certain embodiments, the nitro coffee product is dispensed into a can.

[0042] In some embodiments of the nitro infused method, the dispensing step is done at a first rate measured in gallons per minute (gpm) and the dissolving step is accomplished by supplying a pressure of oxygen at a second rate measured in pounds per square inch (psi) into an infuser such that the first rate divided by the second rate is a ratio in the range of 0.1-10 gpm/psi.

[0043] Other objects and the particular feature and advantages thereof will become apparent from the drawings, description and appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0044] FIG. 1 is an illustration of a ready-to-drink infused coffee product disposed in a container that has shelf life greater than 10 days;

[0045] FIG. 2A is a functional flow diagram showing a method for processing an infused coffee product that inhibits C. bot growth;

[0046] FIG. 2B is a functional flow diagram showing an alternative method for infusing a coffee product;

[0047] FIG. 3 is a functional flow diagram showing an alternative method for processing an infused coffee product that inhibits C. bot growth; and

[0048] FIGS. 4-6 shows exemplary processing calculations for the amount of nitrogen or oxygen in the infused coffee products of FIG.s. 1-3.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0049] Referring to the Figures, wherein like reference numerals refer to like elements, a ready-to-drink coffee product system 10 is shown generally in FIG. 1. Methods of filling a coffee product having suitable shelf life 12, 112 into the systems 10, 110 are shown in FIGS. 2A and 3. The ready-to-drink coffee product systems 10, 110 may be useful for beverage applications requiring quality and convenience for a consumer. That is, the ready-to-drink coffee product system 10, 110 is shelf-stable, i.e., transportable and storable with refrigeration, for at least 90 days. More specifically, the ready-to-drink coffee product systems 10, 110 include a ready-to-drink coffee product 12, 112 that is flavorful, packaged for convenience, and storable and

transportable for up to 153 days with refrigeration before consumption.

[0050] The coffee product 12, 112 is provided in a container 14, 114. The containers 14, 114 used in the present invention are not limited. For instance, PET bottle, cans made of aluminum, steel and the like, bottle made from paper, retort pouch, glass and the like.

[0051] FIG. 1 depicts an aluminum can 14 but in other embodiments, a different type of container 114 may be employed, such as a bottle. The can may be a widget can. The term widget can includes cans containing a plastic insert attached to the bottom of the can, such as those commercially available from Ball Corporation. Alternatively, the widget may be a floating ball or flattened sphere type widget, such as those used in Guinness. The term widget is known in the brewing industry and generally includes small, hollow devices designed to release gas into a beverage upon the opening of a can or bottle. The widget is typically charged with nitrogen during a filling process and a pressure drop at the time of opening discharges the nitrogen into a can creating a unique mouth feel and head of foam. Alternatively, the widget could be filled with another inert gas instead of nitrogen. It is envisioned that non-can containers employed in the method may also contain such widgets.

[0052] In some embodiments, the containers 14, 114 are disposable. The disposable containers can be designed such that the beverage can be drunk directly from the container. In some embodiments, the container is heat-sealed with a metal-containing seal (e.g., an aluminum-containing lid) 16. In other embodiments, the container is sealed with a non-metal seal (e.g., a seal made from polypropylene, polycarbonate, polyethylene, polyethylene terephthalate, or the like, and combinations thereof).

[0053] In some embodiments, the container can hold a liquid volume of at least one fluid ounce. In preferred embodiments, the container can hold 6 to 25 fluid ounces, more preferably 7.5 to 22 ounces. In the most preferred embodiments, the container can hold 8 to 16 fluid ounces. It is also contemplated that the container could be a keg of standard keg sizes. Above the liquid 12, 112 the container has a headspace 18 in which no coffee is present. The coffee beverage 12, 112 will assume the shape of the container 14, 114 when the beverage is dispensed. Some consumers may wish to drink the beverage from their own glass or coffee mug rather than from the container in which it is packaged. Thus, the filled beverage can be transferred to the glass, mug or a cup.

[0054] As used herein, the headspace is defined as the non-liquid portion inside the container.

[0055] Representative materials from which the can 14 may be constructed are aluminum, steel, or tin-coated/plated steel. Aluminum is less costly than tin-plated steel but offers the same resistance to corrosion in addition to greater malleability, resulting in ease of manufacture. The can 14 may be constructed in any manner known in the art. The can may have a printed paper or plastic label 20 glued to the outside of the curved surface, indicating its contents. Some labels contain additional information, such as recipes, on the reverse side. Labels 20 are more often printed directly onto the metal before or after the metal sheet is formed into the individual cans.

[0056] The can 14 may be lined with a plastic coating

containing bisphenol A (BPA).

[0057] Representative polymer materials from which the container 114 and/or its lid can be constructed include but are not limited to polypropylene (PP), polycarbonate (PC), low density polyethylene (LDPE), high density polyethylene (HDPE), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), and the like, and combinations thereof. In some embodiments, the choice of container can also be influenced by the oxygen transmission rate of the polymer material.

Materials that provide better oxygen barrier properties can help to prevent the loss or reintroduction of oxygen into the liquid coffee solution. Although PET provides a better barrier to oxygen than polypropylene and, in some embodiments, can be used to make the container, PET has a relatively low softening point that can render it an unsatisfactory in some circumstances.

[0058] In some embodiments, at least some portion of the container 114 comprises a flexible wall. In some embodiments, the choice of material for the container can be extended to nonpolymer materials such as glass.

[0059] Methods of filling brewed coffee 100 into a container 114 to produce a stable infused coffee product 1 12 is shown generally in FIGS. 2A and 3.

[0060] The coffee 100 can be brewed in conventional or non- conventional manners. Typically, the coffee is brewed at 0 to 100° C.

[0061] The coffee 100 is preferably a cold brew coffee. Cold brew coffee refers to a coffee product that is filtered slowly (steeped) through cold, room temperature, or is brewed at a temperature less than 50° C, preferably less than 35°C, more preferably less than 25°C, water brewing process.

Often times, the steeping will occur for 8 or more hours. In particularly preferred embodiments, the method utilizes a coffee brewed at 3-15° C.

[0062] Cold brew coffee is typically a low acid food. Per FDA, a“low- acid canned food (LACF) is any food (other than alcoholic beverages) with a finished equilibrium pH greater than 4.6 and a water activity greater than 0.85, excluding tomatoes and tomato products having a finished equilibrium pH less than 4.7.” In contrast, an“acidified food (AF) is a low-acid food to which acid(s) or acid food(s) are added and which has a finished equilibrium pH of 4.6 or below and a water activity (aw) greater than 0.85.” FDA requires that manufacturers of LACF register each establishment and file scheduled processes with the Food and Drug Administration for each product, product style, container size and type and processing method (21 CFR 108). The current GMPs pertaining to LACF are in the August 2017 Low-Acid Foods Packaged in Hermetically Sealed Containers (LACF) Regulation and the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act: Guidance for Industry, the contents of which is incorporated herein by reference.

[0063] Various methods of preparing coffee 100 are known. The present invention is suitable for filling NCB coffees, nitro coffees, or other infused coffee products into containers. In preferred embodiments, the invention fills NCB coffee for which the brewing process does not exceed a temperature above 15°C. Preferably, the coffee 100 is steeped in cold, purified water for about 24 hours.

[0064] The species of coffee beans used in the present invention are not limited in particular. Although Arabica species and Robusta species exist as coffee varieties, concretely, Brazil, Colombia, Kilimanjaro, Mocha and the like, which are Arabica species, are preferably used. In addition, these may be used alone, or may be used by suitably blending a plurality of species. In addition, Indonesia, Vietnam and the like, which are Robusta species, may also be used by blending or the like with the Arabica species.

[0065] Coffee material may be procured or sourced from any coffee- producing jurisdiction, such as, but not limited to, one or more of Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia, Indonesia, Ethiopia, India, Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, Honduras, Uganda, Ivory Coast, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Papua New Guinea, Ecuador, Thailand, Tanzania, Dominican Republic, Kenya, Venezuela, Cameroon, Philippines, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Madagascar, Haiti, Rwanda, Guinea, Cuba, Togo, Bolivia, Zambia, Angola, Central African Republic, Panama, Zimbabwe, United States, Nigeria, Ghana, Jamaica, Sri Lanka, Malawi, Paraguay, Sierra Leone, Australia, Trinidad and Tobago, Nepal, Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and Benin.

[0066] When producing the coffee drinks of the present invention, it suffices to carry out grinding of the coffee beans for brew 100 by conventional methods, and it suffices to adjust suitably the degree of grinding according to the desired taste or the like.

[0067] When producing brew 100, it suffices to extract the roasted coffee beans and or grounds thereof according to conventional cold brewing methods with water, the water used not being limited in particular. For water used in the extraction and mixing, pure water, hard water, soft water and ion exchanged water, aqueous solutions containing ascorbic acid and pH- adjusted water or the like, can be given as examples; in addition, degassed water resulting from degassing of these waters for use can be used adequately. As mentioned, preferably, the coffee is steeped in cold, purified water.

[0068] In order to produce stably the coffee drink packed in container in the present invention 10, 110, maintaining the liquid temperature during container filling to below 50° C, more preferably below 30° C, and most preferably to temperatures below 15° C, is preferred from the point of taste, flavor and preventing Listeria and C. bot growth. In certain preferred embodiments, the entire filling process is conducted at temperatures of 3- 15°C. However, the invention is not meant to exclude brews 100 that are filled at temperatures above these ranges.

[0069] The coffee drink packed in container of the present invention 10, 110 may contain one or more flavoring agents, such as extracts, flavored syrups and concentrates. Such flavoring agents are well known and conventionally used in the coffee industry. These flavors can be natural or artificial in origin. Preferred flavors, or mixtures of flavor, include coconut, caramel, almond nut, amaretto, anisette, brandy, cappuccino, mint, cinnamon, cinnamon almond, Grand Mariner®, peppermint stick, pistachio, Sambuca, apple, chamomile, cinnamon spice, creme, creme de menthe, vanilla, French vanilla, Irish creme, Kahlua®, mint, peppermint, lemon, macadamia nut, orange, orange leaf, peach, strawberry, grape, raspberry, cherry, coffee, chocolate, cocoa, mocha and the like, and any mixtures thereof; as well as flavorant/aroma enhancers such as acetaldehyde, herbs, spices, as well as any mixtures thereof.

[0070] Flavored beverage products, especially flavored instant coffee products, typically comprise an edible water-soluble acid (organic or inorganic). Suitable acids include citric acid, malic acid, tartaric acid, fumaric acid, succinic acid, phosphoric acid, as well as mixtures of these acids. The invention does not require addition of acid, however, it is not mean to exclude beverages to which acid may be added.

[0071] The coffee drinks packed in container of the present invention 10, 110 may contain carbohydrates. As carbohydrates sweeteners such as, sucrose, glucose, fructose, xylose, fructose- glucose syrup and sugar alcohol, and cyclodextrins or the like may be cited. Among these, sweeteners such as sucrose and sugar alcohol are more preferable. In addition, these

carbohydrates also include those derived from coffee bean extracts or the like.

[0072] The coffee drinks packed in container of the present invention 10, 110 may alternatively contain artificial sweeteners. Any artificial sweetener known to those of ordinary skill in the art may be used. Non- limiting examples of artificial sweeteners that may be used include saccharin, cyclamate, aspartame, acesulfame potassium, sucralose, mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol, stevia and peptide sweeteners.

[0073] From the point of view of the taste, the content in these carbohydrates or sweetener per drink packed in container is 0.01 to 30.00 percent in weight, more preferably 0.01 to 20.00 percent in weight, even more preferably 0.50 to 15.00 percent in weight, and particularly preferably 1.80 to 10.00 percent in weight. In preferred embodiments, the coffee product 10, 110 does not contain carbohydrates. [0074] Optional ingredients in the beverage products of the present invention are processing aids, including flow aids, anti-caking agents, dispersing aids, and the like. Particularly preferred are flow aids such as silicon dioxide and silica aluminates. Starches, aside from the thickening agents, can also be included to keep the various ingredients from caking.

[0075] In addition, the coffee drink packed in container of the present invention 10, 110 may contain a milk component. As milk components, raw milk, sterilized milk, powdered whole milk, powdered nonfat milk, fresh cream, concentrated milk, nonfat milk, partially nonfat milk, condensed milk and the like may be utilized. In addition, as emulsifying agent, sucrose fatty acid esters, sorbitan fatty acid esters, polyglycerol fatty acid esters, fatty acid glycerides, lecithins may be used. Alternatively, plant-based milks may be used such as those produced from nuts, fruits, grains, and legumes.

Common but non-limiting examples include soy, almond, hazelnut, coconut, cashew, rice, oat and hemp seed milks. In preferred embodiments, the coffee product 10, 110 does not contain a milk component.

[0076] In certain aspects, the present invention introduces oxygen at controlled levels into coffee 100 during the filling process in order to supply appropriate partial pressures of oxygen, which are enough to inhibit C. bot growth without reducing the shelf life in an unsatisfactory way. Particularly, as shown in FIG.s 2A and 2B, oxygen is introduced into the coffee 100 in an amount to keep the percentage of oxygen in the filled product at

approximately 3-10% or, more particularly, approximately 3-6% with the remainder being substantially inert gas, e.g. nitrogen. The pH of the processed, filled coffee product 10, 110 remains at 4.6 or greater, preferably 5.0 or greater. In particular embodiments, oxygen amounts to 5% of the headspace to allow for oxygen to dissolve over time and still maintain a level of approximately 3% in the head space, which has been shown effective at inhibiting C. bot growth. [0077] In some embodiments, the method further comprises

substantially filling a headspace above a packaged beverage with an inert atmosphere, which, in some embodiments, comprises a gas selected from the group consisting of nitrogen, argon, helium, neon, sulfur hexafluoride, and combinations thereof. In some embodiments, the method further comprises sealing the container 14, 114 with a lid, such as lid 16 of FIG. 1 .

[0078] Referring now to FIG.s 2A, 2B, and 3, methods 200, 250, and 300 for producing stable infused coffee beverage systems 10, 110 are shown. An exemplary filling method is a canning line that will fill product into can 14 of FIG. 1.

[0079] As shown in step 202 of FIG. 2A, a centrifugal pump 24 pulls coffee 100 from a storage tank 22 and feeds it into a canning line 26 at rate 204. In one example, a rate 204 of 2 gallons per minute is used. A container (cylinder) of oxygen 30 is connected to a valve 28 and pressure regulator 32, which delivers pressurized oxygen at a controlled rate 206 into a micro gas infuser 34.

[0080] An exemplary infusion rate 206 is 1 psi, but it should be understood that this is exemplary only. When referring to infusion rates in psi, it is meant to connote a net positive psi. That is, the coffee moving through the canning line at a certain gpm will exert a positive pressure (measured in psi) against the oxygen infuser line. The oxygen pressure must exceed the pressure of the coffee. For example, coffee moving at a rate of 2 gpm may exert a pressure of 10 psi. To achieve a positive net pressure on the coffee of 1 psi, the oxygen pressure would be set to 1 1 psi.

[0081] Generally, if the feeding rate 204 in gallons per minute is higher, a higher pressure 206 may be needed to infuse the same amount of oxygen.

In addition, the ratio of 1 psi/2 gpm is merely one example and other ranges of both numbers can be used in order to deliver the desired mixture in the end product. In this example, a 1 psi and 2 gpm rate give approximately 3% oxygen in a headspace 18 of the canned product 10, 110a once canned. In certain embodiments, higher partial pressures of oxygen are used so that if the oxygen dissolves into the liquid over time in the can, the headspace 18 at the end of the shelf life remains approximately at 3% oxygen or higher. Being at approximately 3% oxygen in the head space 18 of the can 14 is indicated as a critical value for inhibiting C. bot growth in that lower partial pressures could increase the risk of growth. At the same time, a higher percentage of oxygen can both degrade the taste profile over time and give the possibility of aerobic bacteria growth, thus a typical maximum oxygen rage might be below 10% or below 7%.

[0082] By way of comparison, sea level oxygen is about 20.9% whereas 19000 feet has approximately 10% oxygen and the summit of Mt. Everest (about 29000 feet) has close to 7% oxygen. Thus, below 10% (or 7% or preferably 5%) is somewhat unlivable to aerobic organisms or at least not productive for significant growth.

[0083] Referring again to FIG. 2A, the infuser 34 as shown is an in-line infusion system, which allows for dispersion of gasses to allow for the gas to dissolve in the liquid. This is done by passing the gas past what is referred in the industry as a“stone”, which may have an infusion size of 2 microns. However, other suitable“stone” sizes can be selected and may depend on the processing speeds and pressures used. In one aspect, a GW KENT Inline Micro-Oxygenation System is used.

[0084] It is also contemplated to infuse the brewed coffee 100 with oxygen in large tanks in a manner that avoids in-line infusion in the filling process. One example, shown in FIG. 2B, is infusing a full holding tank with oxygen and then placing that infused liquid in a feed tank 150 for a canning line. This may allow for faster feed rates 204 in the filling process, which may be limited in certain scenarios by the in-line infusion process. This has been fairly successful for the inventors at 10-20 psi with the infused coffee recirculating in holding tank 150. The infused coffee is then pulled out of the holding tank 150 and into cans 114 without an in line infuser. In preferred embodiments of this method, the coffee 100 is infused to reach an oxygen level in tank 150 prior to canning of 10-40 ppm, preferably 20-40 ppm, in order to achieve a product having 3-10% headspace when canned. It is also contemplated that this method can be used in combination with the in-line infusion method of FIG. 2A, whereby less oxygen is required to be added by the in-line infuser 34.As shown in FIG.s. 2A and 2B, after the infusion is complete, the oxygenated liquid is fed into the canning line 26 which distributes pre-determined amounts of infused coffee 208 into open top containers 114 and then doses nitrogen in step 210 via an inert gas dosing system 36. Other potential inert gases can be used instead of or in

combination with nitrogen, including but not limited to argon, helium, neon, sulfur hexafluoride, and combinations thereof.

[0085] In some embodiments, the dosing process 210 is accomplished by bubbling an inert gas such as nitrogen through the beverage 208 in container 1 14. In some embodiments, in addition to the bubbling, the headspace is also filled with an inert gas. In some embodiments, the bubbling process can proceed for a time ranging from minutes to several hours depending on the volume of beverage being degassed, the bubbling rate, and the desired reduction in the concentration of dissolved oxygen. The degassing by bubbling can also be assisted with stirring 212 and/or with a vacuum 214 applied to the headspace above the beverage. As will be appreciated by the skilled artisan, any combination of dosing techniques-both the techniques described above as well as all manner of additional techniques-may be used to achieve a beverage solution 12, 112 of desired oxygen content without deviating from the present teachings. It is to be understood that the particular technique or techniques used in accordance with the present teachings is not restricted. [0086] Dosing 210 the headspace of the filled containers 114 with liquid nitrogen pressurizes the container 114 and adds rigidity, which helps during packaging and handling. A precise drop of rapidly expanding liquid nitrogen into cold fill lightweight PET packages and aluminum cans allows for consistent pressure from package to package and also has the advantage that it eliminates paneling and palletizing problems. One commercial example of a system that enables nitrogen dosing is VBS NITRODOSE liquid nitrogen injection system. Various types of NITRODOSE systems are available for different requirements.

[0087] Once the nitrogen (e.g. liquid nitrogen) is introduced into the container in step 210 and, optionally, steps 212, 214, a lid is placed on container 114 and sealed as shown in step 216 of FIG.s. 2A and 3. The liquid nitrogen will rapidly increase in temperature and become a gas, thus resulting in about 30-60 net psi inside a sealed can (about 2-4 atm). The amount of liquid nitrogen introduced as compared to oxygen is calibrated in order that the head space (i.e. non-liquid part inside the sealed can) is 3-10% oxygen or more particularly 3-6% or even more particularly 5% oxygen. However, it is understood that if, for example, a can is made with 5% oxygen and then sits on a retail shelf or in transport for some time (e.g. 30 days), some of the oxygen may dissolve, thus reducing the percentage of oxygen.

[0088] In some embodiments, the lidding material 16 contains an aluminum film to help prevent oxygen penetration into the container after it is sealed. In some embodiments, such as in the can of FIG. 1 , the lids 16 is applied to the disposable containers 14 filled with coffee beverage 12, 112 using standard hot stamping techniques and equipment available in the packaging industry. In other embodiments, the lidding material may also be oxygen permeable including PET or PP. [0089] In some embodiments, the beverage 112 can be dispensed into individual disposable containers that are ultimately purchased by the consumer.

[0090] In some embodiments, as shown in FIG. 2A, the preparation system can also have a thermocouple or other temperature measuring device (such as infrared photodiodes or thermistors) 38 to measure the temperature of the preparation chamber to maintain the brewed coffee 100 at a constant temperature.

[0091] In some embodiments of the inventive method, as shown in FIG. 3, the packaged system 110a is sent in step 306 to a refrigeration system to cool the temperature of the beverage. Storage at temperatures less than 3°C are generally recognized as being a means of preventing growth and toxin formation by non-proteolytic C. bot. Product produced according to the present invention was able to prevent growth and toxin formation by non- proteolytic C. bot when stored at less than 10° C.

[0092] In addition, the method 300 may include the step 302 of coding or stamping the ready-to-drink coffee product system 110a with identification materials, coating the container portion of packaged product 110a with a label or sleeve, and a step 304 packing the ready-to-drink coffee product system 110a into a case, pack, and/or pallet 110b for transportation or storage. Further, the method 300 may include, 308 storing the ready-to-drink coffee product in uncased 110a or cased 110b container for up to one year, and, after storing, performing step 310 of testing the coffee

product 112 contained within the containers 110a to produce a test result that indicates that the product is free from Salmonella, Escherichia

coli 0157:H7, Listeria monocytogenes and spores of non-proteolytic and proteolytic strains of Clostridium botulinum.

[0093] Product produced according to the inventive methods may additionally be pasteurized, for example be heating to 145° F for at least 3 minutes by conventional means. Indeed, a pasteurization step may be necessary if carbohydrate or certain optional ingredients are added to the coffee. An advantage of the invention, however, is that pasteurization is not required to inhibit C. bot growth. That is, product made according to the inventive methods described herein and shown in the figures showed similar results to product that was additionally subjected to a pasteurization step before final packaging.

[0094] The infused coffee product 12, 112 may be free from a food additive selected from the group consisting of preservatives, e.g., sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate; sweeteners, e.g., cane sugar, saccharin, aspartame, and sucralose; flavorants, e.g., cocoa powder, cream, chicory, and milk; and acidulants, e.g., citric acid, malic acid, lemon juice, lemon juice concentrate, acetic acid, lactic acid, fumaric acid, tartaric acid, phosphoric acid, and succinic acid, even though the product 12, 112 may have a pH of greater than 4.6. The infused coffee product 12, 112 may be free of antioxidant, e.g. erythorbic acid, ascorbic acid and water-soluble salts. That is, the infused coffee product 12, 112 may be characterized as a low-acid coffee material and yet may be free from added antioxidants, preservatives, sweeteners, flavorants, acidulants, and added calories.

[0095] In some embodiments, the shelf life of the infused coffee 112 within package 11 Oat in accordance with the method of FIG. 3 is 1 13 days of refrigerated storage or 122 days of refrigerated storage. In certain

embodiments, the shelf life of a coffee product according to the invention is 153 days of refrigerated storage.

[0096] It is envisioned that the methods described herein can be performed in a modern food packaging facility in which the necessary equipment to brew a coffee-based beverage, infuse and dose the beverage, dispense the beverage into disposable containers, seal the containers under an inert atmosphere, and optionally refrigerate the product are available such that the entire process can be performed rapidly and efficiently. In some embodiments, the completed coffee product 10, 110a, or 110b is shipped to retail stores, purchased by a consumer as a room temperature or refrigerated beverage in a disposable container, and stored at home or work maintained at ambient or cooler conditions.

[0097] In certain embodiments, the shelf life of a coffee product according the invention will have a shelf life of 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, preferably 120 days, 180 days, 270 days or 365 days, depending on storage conditions. In certain preferred embodiments, the product exhibits shelf life of 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, 120 days, 180 days, 270 days and 365 days upon storage at refrigerated conditions.

[0098] In other embodiments, the shelf life of a coffee product according the invention will have a shelf life of 1 month, 2 months, 3 months,

4 months, 5 months, 6 months, 7 months, 8 months, 9 months, 10 months, 1 1 months, or 12 months. In certain preferred embodiments, the product exhibits shelf life of 3 months, 4 months, 5 months, 6 months, 7 months, 8 months, 9 months, 10 months, 1 1 months, or 12 months upon storage at refrigerated conditions.

[0099] Research has indicated that the expiration date should be determined based upon the expected amount of time it will take for the oxygen to reduce to about 3%, as this is the point where C. bot growth becomes a higher risk. Therefore, the filling line may also be adjusted to print an expiration date based on the expected time when 3% oxygen will be reached.

[00100] In some embodiments, initial testing showed at least 90 days of shelf life protected from C. bot growth when the product was refrigerated.

[00101] In certain embodiments, the shelf life of a coffee product according to the invention stored at <10° C is 1 13 days [00102] In certain embodiments, the shelf life of a coffee product according to the invention stored at <10° C is 122 days.

[00103] In some embodiments, the shelf life of a coffee product according to the invention stored at <10° C is 126 days.

[00104] In certain embodiments, the shelf life of a coffee product according to the invention stored at <10° C is 153 days.

[00105] FIG. 4 shows one exemplary solution for solving the pressure of oxygen using Henry’s law and associated constants and formulas. Since the remaining head space within a can (i.e. above the liquid) is nitrogen due to the dosing process, the partial pressure of oxygen can be determined assuming different atmospheres of pressure. Meaning, if more nitrogen is added during the filling process, a higher partial pressure of nitrogen will result as will a higher overall pressure.

[00106] FIG. 5 shows nitrogen dosing calculations. The nitrogen dosing is performed once the oxygenated coffee product has been placed in the can and prior to sealing/fitting the lid. A pre-set amount of nitrogen is added (liquid nitrogen for example) to the can and the lid is quickly put on and sealed. Thus, FIG. 5 shows calculations for the Mols of nitrogen to achieve 5% Oxygen and 95% nitrogen amounts in different pressure scenarios.

[00107] As a general guideline, cold brew nitro coffee cans once finished generally have a net positive pressure of about 30-45 psi, which is about 2-3 atmospheres (at canning temperature). Generally, canning temperatures are in the 3-8° C range.

[00108] FIG. 6 shows different exemplary calculations for determining the pressure of nitrogen in the infuser 34 of FIG. 2 necessary to achieve the desired headspace 18 of the can of FIG. 1. FIG. 6 shows 3% and 5% oxygen.

[00109] Referring back to FIG.s. 1-3, the infused ready-to-drink coffee 12, 112 within product systems 10, 110a, 110b may be characterized as free from Salmonella, Escherichia coli 0157:H7, Listeria monocytogenes and spores of non-proteolytic and proteolytic strains of Clostridium botulinum for at least 90 days. Further, the infused ready-to-drink coffee 12, 112 within product systems 10, 110a, 110b may be free from a food additive selected from the group consisting of antioxidants, preservatives, e.g., sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate; sweeteners, e.g., cane sugar, saccharin, aspartame, and sucralose; flavorants, e.g., cocoa powder, cream, chicory, and milk; and acidulants, e.g., citric acid, malic acid, lemon juice, lemon juice concentrate, acetic acid, lactic acid, fumaric acid, tartaric acid, phosphoric acid, and succinic acid, even though the infused coffee product 12, 112 has a pH of greater than 4.6, and typically greater than 5.0. That is, the packaged, infused coffee product 12, 112 may be characterized as a low-acid coffee material and yet may be free from added antioxidants, preservatives, sweeteners, flavorants, acidulants, and added calories.

[00110] The infused coffee product systems 10, 110a, 110b produced by the methods herein are economical to produce, transport, and store since the methods 200, 250, 300 do not require heating or aseptic processing during production, and do not require additional ingredients other than coffee and water.

[00111] The following examples illustrate the disclosed technology and are not to be viewed in any way as limiting to the scope of the disclosure.

[00112] EXAMPLES

[00113] Example 1. Preparation of Cold Brew Nitro Coffee Product

[00114] Ingredients:

[00115] Note: use coffee grounds that consistently hold the pH below 5.2

[00116] Procedure:

1. Combine ingredients, cover and steep for up to 24 hours at less than 41 °F;

2. Infuse the cold brew with pure oxygen at 1 % psi in the line filling the containers;

3. Place oxygen infused cold brew into clean containers, add liquid nitrogen, and seal immediately;

4. Test containers periodically during the canning process for dissolved oxygen content and pH to assure consistency in production.

[00117] Example 2: Initial Analysis of Example 1

[00118] The product was tested for redox potential and determined to be +212.4 mV. Further microbial analysis of the product also determined that the product showed no outgrowth of mesophilic spore formers. Additionally, testing for aerobic plate count (APC), lactic acid bacteria (LAB) and yeast and mold (Y&M) found very limited microbial activity with 20 cfu/g APC, 10 cfu/g LAB and 10 cfu/g mold found.

[00119] Exemplary Results, Batch No. 171 103-018

[00120] Exemplary Results, Batch No. 1 17030-013

[00121] Example 3: Pasteurization of Samples

[00122] Product made according to Example 1 was heated in the containers to greater than or equal to 145°F and held for at least 3 minutes. Initial products were labeled:“keep refrigerated”; must be used by 30 days after manufacture. This product must be distributed, stored and sold under refrigerated conditions. Samples were stored at refrigerated conditions (<10° C) and testing was performed at various time points.

[00123] No outgrowth of mesophilic spore formers or sulphite reducing Clostridia in samples tested prior to and after the 145°F for 3-minute heating that was conducted as part of the process. Additionally, testing for aerobic plate count (APC), lactic acid bacteria (LAB) and yeast and mold (Y&M) found elimination and no growth was observed for all tests conducted. See KIN 171 103-018.

[00124] Initial Analysis of Example 1 , Batch No. 171 103-018 after Pasteurization

[00125] Example 4: Shelf Life Study

[00126] Product produced by the procedure of Examples 1 and 2 was subjected to a shelf life study by a certified Process Authority. Products were tested by a laboratory accredited in accordance with the recognized

International Standard ISO/IEC 17025:2005. This accreditation demonstrates technical competence for a defined scope and the operation of a laboratory quality management system (refer to the joint ISO-ILAC-IAF Communique' dated January 2009). The following tests were run.

[00127] Results indicate that the ready-to-drink coffee product of Example 1 does not support C. botulinum growth or toxin production throughout 122 days at refrigerated storage, is food safe and of excellent microbial and sensory quality.

[00128] In addition, the ready-to-drink coffee product of Examples 1 and 2 remains microbiologically stable throughout 1 13 and 122 days of

refrigerated storage. The product exhibited very low to no growth of potential spoilage organisms and no potential pathogenic organisms or toxins were detected throughout the test study. The product also met key criteria required to prevent outgrowth of Clostridium botulinum through 153 days.

[00129] It should be noted that, while various functions and methods have been described and presented in a sequence of steps, the sequence has been provided merely as an illustration of one advantageous

embodiment, and that it is not necessary to perform these functions in the specific order illustrated. It is further contemplated that any of these steps may be moved and/or combined relative to any of the other steps. In addition, it is still further contemplated that it may be advantageous, depending upon the application, to utilize all or any portion of the functions described herein.

[00130] Although the invention has been described with reference to a particular arrangement of parts, features and the like, these are not intended to exhaust all possible arrangements or features, and indeed many other modifications and variations will be ascertainable to those of skill in the art.