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Patent Searching and Data


Title:
COFFEE MACHINE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2014/206495
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The present invention in particular relates to a coffee machine (1) with a convection vent structural unit (6, 8, 9) adapted to vent at least a section of the interior volume of the coffee machine. The convection vent structural unit comprises an air baffling element (8) having a lower surface acting as an air guiding surface (9) configured to ascend upwards to an exhaust vent opening (10).

Inventors:
ESTEVE, Jérôme (S:t Göransgatan 143, Stockholm, S-105 45, SE)
Application Number:
EP2013/063689
Publication Date:
December 31, 2014
Filing Date:
June 28, 2013
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
AKTIEBOLAGET ELECTROLUX (S:t Göransgatan 143, Stockholm, 105 45, SE)
International Classes:
A47J31/44
Foreign References:
US5217288A
EP2253253A1
US5285718A
EP2559361A1
JPH08164072A
Other References:
None
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WRETBLAD, Eva (Group IPS:t Göransgatan 143, Stockholm, S-150 45, SE)
Download PDF:
Claims:
Claims

Coffee machine (1) comprising a convection vent structural unit (6, 8, 9) adapted to vent at least a section of the interior volume of the coffee machine (1), wherein the convection vent structural unit (6, 8, 9) comprises an air baffling element (8) having a lower surface acting as an air guiding surface (9) configured to ascend up¬ wards to an exhaust vent opening (10) .

Coffee machine (1) according to claim 1, wherein the convection vent structural unit (6, 7, 9) is arranged in an upper section relative to the coffee machine main body (2) such that exhaust steam and vapor generated at a bev¬ erage dispensing unit, thermo block (TB) and/or preparation or brewing unit (BU) can at least partially be dis¬ charged over the air guiding surface (9) to the exhaust vent opening (10) .

Coffee machine (1) according to claim 1 or 2, wherein the air baffling element (8) is implemented as a section of an upper housing wall (6) .

Coffee machine (1) according to at least one of claims 1 to 3, wherein the air guiding surface (9) at least in sections has a convex contour relative to the interior of the coffee machine (1) .

Coffee machine (1) according to at least one of claims 1 to 4, wherein the exhaust vent opening (10) is provided at a vertical lateral wall and/or vertical back wall (12) of the coffee machine (1) .

Coffee machine according to at least one of claims 1 to 5, wherein the exhaust vent opening (10) is at least par- tially implemented as a hidden passage through a housing wall (11) of the coffee machine (1) .

7. Coffee machine according to at least one of claims 1 to 6, wherein an outer trailing edge (13) of the exhaust vent opening (10) is situated vertically below an inner leading edge of the exhaust vent opening (10) .

8. Coffee machine (1) according to at least one of clams 1 to 7, wherein an angle of inclination of at least a sec¬ tion of the air guiding surface (9) relative to the hori¬ zontal direction is between 5 degrees and 15 degrees, preferably in the range of about 10 degrees.

9. Coffee machine (1) according to at least one of claims 1 to 8, wherein the convection vent structural unit (6, 8, 9), in particular air baffling element (8) is implemented as a top cover casing element (6), preferably adapted to be removable from the coffee machine (1) .

10. Coffee machine (1) according to at least one of claims 1 to 9, wherein the air baffling element (8) is made from a plastic material, wherein the air guiding surface (9) preferably comprises water-repellant and/or antimicrobial properties .

Description:
Description

Coffee machine

The present invention in particular relates to appliances such as coffee machines, in particular to pad-type coffee machines or crushing mill coffee machines. Other types of coffee machines may also apply. In particular automatic coffee dispensing machines, which are or become increasingly popular in particular for home application, have comparatively compact yet extensive inner workings, i.e. electronic and/or mechanic interior components, including heat ¬ ing elements, beverage dispensing elements and others.

Respective interior components require adequate ventilation and aeration in order to prevent overheating and accumulation of humidity and vapours inside the machines. Known solutions of ven ¬ tilating inner volumes of respective coffee machines still leave room for further improvements, in particular with respect to ventilation efficiency as well as with respect to operation and handling convenience of the whole machine.

Therefore, it is an object of the invention to provide a coffee machine with improved aeration and ventilation, in particular of inner and interior components.

This object is solved according to the invention by the charac ¬ teristics as set out in claim 1. Embodiments result from the de- pendent claims 2 to 10.

According to claim 1, a coffee machine is provided which com ¬ prises or includes a convection vent structural unit or assem ¬ bly. The coffee machine in particular may be a coffee maker, in particular an automatic coffee maker, such as for example a cof ¬ fee pad machine. Other types of machines such as crushing mill machines, e.g. fully automatic espresso machines or other coffee machines in particular provided with thermo blocks may be con- sidered. A thermo block in particular shall mean a heating element for water to be used for brewing, in which water is heated by passing a defined heating segment or arrangement.

The convection vent structural unit in particular shall be un- derstood to enable, allow and/or support aeration and ventila ¬ tion, in general of passive type. However, passive ventilation may be mixed with active ventilation if fans or ventilators are present in the coffee machine and able to generate an airflow. The convection vent structural unit is adapted and designed for venting, i.e. ventilating at least a section of the interior volume of the coffee machine. The section of the inner volume may in particular be or comprise a section enclosed by a casing or casing walls of the coffee machine. The section of the inte- rior volume may for example comprise or be adjacent to a brew ¬ ing, mixing, beverage dispensing and/or preparation unit of the coffee machine. In particular humidity, moisture and vapours generated at a respective brewing, mixing, dispensing and/or preparation unit may be exhausted over the convection vent structural unit.

According to claim 1 it is further proposed that the convection vent structural unit comprises an air baffling or air guiding element, or air baffling section. The air baffling element or section comprises a lower surface or face implemented and effec ¬ tively acting as an air guiding surface. The air baffling element may for example have a comparatively flat, plate-like structure. The air baffling element in particular may be a sec ¬ tion of a casing or housing of the coffee machine. The air guiding surface is implemented, designed and configured to ascend upwards to an exhaust vent opening. In other words, the air guiding surface is configured to discharge into an ex ¬ haust vent opening. The exhaust vent opening preferably is adapted to open to the outside of the coffee machine, in par ¬ ticular from the interior of a casing of the coffee machine to the exterior of the casing.

The proposed air baffling element or structure and convection vent structural unit as proposed in claim 1 has been found to be effective in exhausting heat and/or humidity and/or vapours from the inner of the coffee machine.

Another advantage may be, that the proposed structure of the convection vent unit, in particular air baffling element, leads to more flexibility with respect to arrangement and positioning of exhaust vent openings.

In particular, the proposed structure of the convection vent unit makes it possible to arrange and provide the exhaust vent openings in hidden or comparatively remote sections of the cof ¬ fee machine, relative to usual work and user spaces, i.e. sec ¬ tions involved in service and beverage output. The position of the convection vent unit in particular may be arranged or positioned vertically above or at least close to heating elements, such as for example a thermo block and/or a brewing unit of the coffee machine. The air baffling element may for example have dimensions in length of about 10 cm to 15 cm, in particular 11 cm, wherein the length shall relate to the dimension measured from front to back. Lateral dimensions of the air baffling element may for example be in the range of 6 cm to 12 cm, in particular about 8 cm. In order to obtain favourable air flow characteristics, the air guiding surface may comprise a flat and smooth surface such that air and steam may easily flow through, pass by the surface, and pass out through the outlet. Additionally, air guiding elements, such as ribs and/or fins, may be provided where applicable.

Furthermore, the air guiding surface may comprise a defined sur ¬ face structure or texture supporting the development and air guiding characteristics of the air guiding surface.

The air guiding surface may comprise coatings and/or laminations providing respective structures and/or textures. The air guiding surface and eventually additional elements may also comprise structures and/or coatings or laminations providing easy to clean and/or antimicrobial properties.

In embodiments, the convection vent structural unit may be ar ¬ ranged in an upper section relative to the coffee machine main body. In particular, the convection vent structural unit may be arranged in a vertical upper section relative to or near a bev ¬ erage dispensing unit, e.g. a coffee dispenser nozzle, a mixing chamber, a preparation or brewing unit, a thermo block, and the like. The convection vent structural unit may fully or at least in parts cover one or more of the mentioned elements or units. Preferably the coverage is such that steam, humid and/or hot air and the like can be released from the interior via the vent structural unit.

The convection vent structural unit may be arranged above re- spective elements, i.e. at a higher level and/or vertically above. With respect to the horizontal position of the convection vent structural unit, in particular the air guiding surface, relative to the elements or units to be vented, it may be that the convection vent structural unit, in particular the air baf- fling element at least partially covers or overlaps respective elements. However, it may also be the case, that there is no or hardly any overlap between respective elements. In this case, ventilation and vapour discharge may be effectuated by entrain ¬ ing flow effects of a convection type airflow generated by the convection vent structural unit.

In particular in case that the coffee machine comprises a thermo block, warm and humid air mainly comes from or arises from the area near and above the thermo block. Therefore, the air guiding surface in this case preferably is focused to be positioned above the thermo block and to extend in width and length to cover essentially the whole the thermo block. The air guiding surface may in addition cover other regions, such as a brewing unit, in which hot and/or humid air and the like is/are gener ¬ ated and shall be exhausted from the interior via the convection vent structure.

The main body of the coffee machine may in particular comprise elements and components needed for preparing and dispensing bev- erages, e.g. such as mixing chambers, brewing units, dispensing nozzles and the like.

The convection vent structural unit at least shall be arranged and positioned in such a way that exhaust steam and vapour gen- erated during beverage preparation, beverage output and/or de ¬ livery at a beverage dispenser can at least partially be dis ¬ charged over or via the air guiding surface to the exhaust vent opening . In general, comparatively warm and heated up air and vapour gen ¬ erated during operation of the coffee machine will generate an airflow towards the air exhaust opening due to the slanted ori ¬ entation of the air guiding surface. Hence, convection effects will automatically generate an exhaust airflow from the inner sections of the coffee machine to the exhaust vent opening fi- nally discharging to the exterior of the coffee machine. Convec ¬ tion induced air flows can be generated comparatively reliably in cases where the convection vent structural unit, in particu ¬ lar the air guiding surface, is arranged in an upper section as proposed above.

In embodiments, the air baffling element is implemented as a section of an upper housing wall in particular of a housing or partial housing, cabinet, top cover or casing of the coffee ma ¬ chine. The air baffling element, the air guiding surface, and as the case may be further elements within the air guiding surface, may be implemented with a respective upper housing wall, i.e. respective elements or structural elements may be integral parts of the housing wall.

The air baffling elements and related items may be manufactured in a single manufacturing step together with the housing, in particular upper housing element. Therefore, a respective con ¬ vection vent structural unit with an air baffling element as a part of the upper housing wall may be manufactured at reduced cost and with reduced complexity and effort. Further, a convec ¬ tion vent structural unit provided at the upper housing wall may provide more space in the inner volume of the coffee machine.

In embodiments, the air guiding surface at least in sections has a convex contour relative to the interior of the coffee machine. An air guiding surface which is curved or bulged towards the in ¬ side of the coffee machine may be advantageous for convection air vents emerging automatically from the inside towards the ex ¬ haust opening. The curvature of the convex contour may vary be ¬ tween the exhaust opening and an inner end section of the air baffling element or air guiding surface.

It shall be noted, that in variant embodiments the air guiding surface may be completely planar in shape and be free of curved sections and/or may have concave contour relative to the inte ¬ rior .

The air baffling element as such may have an overall contour like the air guiding surface. However, it is possible that only the lower side of the air baffling element, which lower side implements the air guiding surface, has the proposed contour.

In embodiments the exhaust vent opening is provided or disposed at a vertical lateral wall and/or vertical back or rearward wall of the coffee machine casing or housing. Providing the exhaust opening in vertical sections has the advantage that it is more difficult for dust, solid particles and/or liquids to enter or to get into the interior of the coffee machine. This indeed is an advantage over known convection vent openings provided at horizontal upper surfaces.

Preferably, the exhaust vent opening is provided at a lateral back or rearward wall of the housing or cabinet of the coffee machine, in particular in regions where exhaust of vapours and humidity does not, at least nor significantly, impair users dur ¬ ing operation of the coffee machine.

In embodiments, the exhaust vent opening is at least partially implemented as a hidden or masked passage through a housing wall of the coffee machine. The term "hidden" or "masked" passage in particular shall mean that exhaust air passes the exhaust vent opening along or according to a bent, in particular multiple bended, trajectory rather than along a linear and straight tra- jectory or path. In other words, a linear or direct passage of the exhaust air through the exhaust opening, in particular with respect to the horizontal direction, may be impaired by the de ¬ sign of the exhaust opening. In particular for this reason, the exhaust opening may comprise one or several face plates arranged successively along the air conducting direction. The face plates may overlap to prevent a direct passageway for exhaust air.

Providing the mentioned hidden passage at the exhaust opening has the advantage that liquids or other substances directly im ¬ pinging on the exhaust opening from the exterior are completely or are at least largely hindered from entering the exhaust open ¬ ing from the outside. The mentioned face plates may be planar, linear and/or bent sec ¬ tions of the casing of the coffee machine. In one variant, one of the face plates may have a funnel or cone shaped design.

Preferably, the funnel shaped face plate is bent inwardly so as to cause liquids or humidity, in particular condensation water emerging at the exhaust opening, to flow to the outside of the coffee machine housing.

In embodiments, an outer trailing edge of the exhaust vent open ¬ ing may be situated vertically below, i.e. at a lower level than, an inner leading edge of the exhaust vent opening. In other words, the trailing edge and leading edge are vertically offset from each other. Such an arrangement and design may pro ¬ vide a hidden passage and in particular a splashwater or spray- water protection at the exhaust vent opening. Respective trail- ing and/or leading edges may correspond to face plates as iden ¬ tified further above. In particular the inner leading edge may correspond to the face plate having a funnel shaped structure or design . In embodiments, an angle of inclination of at least a section of the air guiding surface relative to the horizontal direction may be between 5 and 15 degrees, preferably in the range of about 10 degrees. Sections comprising inclination angles as mentioned be ¬ forehand may in particular be situated at or close to the tran- sition between the air baffling element and the exhaust opening. However, the mentioned inclination angle ranges may apply to the whole air guiding surface. Note that the inclination angle may vary over the length of the air guiding surface. In one variant, the inclination angle may increase from an inner edge of the air guiding surface to an edge at the exhaust vent opening, which may correspond to a convex bent shape of the air guiding sur ¬ face .

In embodiments, the convection vent structural unit is imple- mented as a top cover casing element or section of the coffee machine. The top cover casing element preferably may be adapted to be removable from the coffee machine. Advantages related to the fact that the convection vent structural unit is implemented as a section of the casing of the coffee machine have been men- tioned further above to which explicit reference is made. Imple ¬ menting the convection vent structural unit, in particular the air baffling element comprising the air guiding surface, as a removable casing element of the coffee machine may be advanta ¬ geous for hygienic reasons, as the air guiding surface exposed to exhaust vapours and humidity can be cleaned at least from time to time.

In embodiments the air baffling element may be made from a plas ¬ tic material. The air baffling element, in particular when im- plemented as a section of the housing, may be made by injection moulding. Additional optional properties of the air guiding sur ¬ face may comprise water-repellent properties and/or antimicro ¬ bial properties, which may be provided by means of coatings and/or laminations, or respective properties may be directly im- plemented in or with materials from which of air guiding surface is made.

As can be seen, the coffee machine as described above, including any embodiments and variants, is effective in providing improved aeration and ventilation of the inner of the coffee machine, in particular the interior of the coffee machine housing.

Preferred embodiments of the invention will now be described in connection with the annexed drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of a coffee machine;

FIG. 2 shows a front view of the coffee machine;

FIG. 3 shows a cross section of the coffee machine according to line A-A in FIG. 2; and

FIG. 4 shows a magnified view of detail B of FIG. 3.

FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of a coffee machine 1. A front view of the coffee machine is shown in FIG. 2. The coffee machine 1 comprises a main body 2 and a drip plate assembly 3 detachably coupled to the main body 2. Vertically above the drip plate assembly, a beverage dispenser outlet 4 is provided . In general beverages to be dispensed at the dispenser outlet 4 are prepared in the interior of the main body 2 of the coffee machine 1, for example in or at brewing/mixing locations or sta ¬ tions. Typically secondary products or by-products such as heat, fumes, humidity and/or steam are generated during preparing bev- erages.

It is desirable that such secondary products or by-products are removed from the interior of the coffee machine 1. For this rea ¬ son, the proposed coffee machine 1 comprises a convection vent structural unit which will be described in further details with respect to FIG. 3 and 4.

FIG. 3 shows a cross-section of the coffee machine 1 in accor- dance with line A-A in FIG. 2. FIG. 4 shows a magnified view of a detail of FIG. 3.

From FIG. 3 it can be seen, that the beverage dispenser outlet 4 is arranged in a front section of the coffee machine 1, i.e. in a front section of the main body 2. With the present configura ¬ tion, a water tank 5 is provided removably at a rear section of the main body 2. The water tank 5 comprises a lid 5a, which may be hingedly attached to an upper section of the water tank 5. Preferably, a hinge of the lid 5a is adapted to extend between lateral sides of the main body 2. Note that the lid 5a may be implemented as a removeable element adapted be fitted into an upper opening of the water tank 5.

In between, control elements and functional units required for preparing beverages, in particular coffee but also other hot beverages, are arranged. In particular heating elements for heating water, mixing and/or brewing elements or units for making respective beverages and other elements are provided with the main body.

The upper or top end, the main body 2 comprises a top wall 6 which is implemented as a section of the casing or cabinet 7 of the coffee machine 1. In FIG. 3 a thermo block TB of the coffee machine 1 is indicated via a dashed oval. The thermo block TB is configured to heat wa ¬ ter conveyed from the tank 5 to a brewing unit BU. The brewing unit BU is also indicated via a dashed oval. The thermo block TB may be implemented as a flow-type heater adapted to heat the wa ¬

ll ter passing through to a temperature adequate for brewing purposes.

A section of the top wall 6 in the present case implements or is part of a convection vent structural unit of the coffee machine 1. The convection vent structural unit will now be described in more detail with reference to FIG. 4 which shows detail B of FIG. 3 in a magnified view. In particular from FIG. 4 it can be seen that the top wall 6 implements an air baffling element 8 which comprises a lower surface acting as an air guiding surface 9. The air guiding surface 9 is designed and implemented such that the secondary or by ¬ products as mentioned above, generated during operation of the coffee machine can be guided towards an exhaust vent opening 10.

In particular, the air baffling element 8 is adapted, configured and positioned such that heat, heated air and/or moisture and humidity emerging, originating or produced at or by the thermo block TB and/or brewing unit BU can be removed over the air guiding surface 9 to the exhaust vent opening. Here it may be mentioned, that in the present example, the air baffling element 8 basically extends over the thermo block TB and brewing unit BU. Other coverages or ranges of the air baffling element 8 are conceivable.

The air baffling element 8 and air guiding surface 9 presently are designed to ascend upwards towards the exhaust vent opening 10. This inter alia has the great advantage that the air baf- fling element functions as a convection vent in which an exhaust air stream for exhausting secondary or by-products via the exhaust vent opening is generated automatically along with the generation of the secondary products, in particular heat or steam. The air guiding surface 9 is slanted upwards by an angle of about 10 degrees, and the air guiding surface is slightly convex towards the inside of the coffee machine. The respective shape and design of the air guiding surface 9 is effective in generat- ing the exhaust air flow whilst providing favourable, in par ¬ ticular space-saving designs of the cabinet, in particular of the upper section of the coffee machine 1.

As can also be seen from FIG. 4, the exhaust vent opening is provided at a vertical back, rear or rearward wall 11 of the coffee machine 1, in more detail a rearward wall 11 of the main body 2. Such a position of the exhaust vent opening 10 is advantageous as emerging exhaust air flow in this case does not or at least not largely impair the ordinary use of the coffee machine 1. It shall be noted, that the exhaust air opening lOmay also be provided at other sections. Also, in case that the exhaust air opening has several sections, one section may be provided at a rearward wall and another section may be at a lateral wall sec ¬ tion. The exhaust vent opening 10 is provided at a shoulder 12 formed at the upper end of the rearward wall 11. The shoulder 12 at least partially is formed by the air baffling element 8 as ¬ cending towards the rear or the main body 2.

Advantageously, the upper surface of the air baffling element 8 is also inclined towards the rear of the coffee machine 1, such that liquids, in particular splashes and the like, occurring during usage and/or cleaning of the coffee machine 1 are guided towards the front of the coffee machine 1 where they can be eas ¬ ily wiped away.

The exhaust air opening 10 is designed such that it implements a hidden passage for the exhaust air moving from the interior to the exterior of the coffee machine 1. The exhaust air flow is schematically indicated in FIG. 4 by a pair of arrows. One of the arrows shows the exhaust air flow along the air guiding sur- face 9, and the other arrow schematically shows the passage of exhaust air through the exhaust vent opening 10.

The exhaust air opening 10 as implemented with the coffee ma ¬ chine 1 in the figures comprises an outer trailing edge 13 and an inner leading edge 14. The outer leading edge 13 is positioned vertically below, i.e. at a lower level than the inner leading edge 14. The trailing edge 13 and leading edge 14 are implemented at face plates designed as sections of the casing.

The inner leading edge 14 and a section of the exhaust vent opening adjacent to the inner leading edge 14, i.e. a respective face plate, are formed or curved in a funnel shape, in particu ¬ lar such that liquids or humidity present or collecting at the respective section is automatically guided towards the outside.

The overall design of the exhaust vent opening 10, in particular the design and shape of the outer trailing edge 13 and inner leading edge 14 are such that the exhaust air stream has to pass the exhaust air opening 10 along a curved, in particular multi- curved trajectory. The idea behind that design is to provide a hidden passage allowing secondary products and by-products as defined above to be easily vented, whilst impeding the passage of dust, moisture, splashes and sprinkles from the outside to the interior of the coffee machine 1.

In some instances and constructional versions it may be useful that air vent opening 10, i.e. the air outlet, is designed, ar ¬ ranged and implemented in such a way that water related to the water tank, that may accidently splash up, or may accidentally be spilled either when filling the tank 5 or during reinstalling the tank 5 after a filling action, is repelled or drained by the special construction of the exhaust vent opening 10. It shall be mentioned, that the coffee machine 1, in particular the tank 5 may be implemented such that it can be refilled with ¬ out removing it from the coffee machine 1, by simply opening the lid 5a and fill in water from a pitcher or the like. The construction of the air vent outlet 10 with the outer trailing edge 13 and inner leading edge 14, in this case may prevent spilled water to enter the coffee machine 1.

It can be understood from Fig. 3 that when opening the lid 5a of the water tank 5, the lid 5a may protect or cover the exhaust vent opening 10 from or against splashing or spilled water, in particular in case that the lid 5a is hinged to be opened to ¬ wards the exhaust vent opening 10. In particular, in the open position, the lid 5a can cover the exhaust vent opening 10 such that water cannot get into the coffee machine 1 by accident. Or in other words, the lid 5a may be adapted in order to protect and/or cover the exhaust vent opening 10 during refilling operations of the tank 5.

The air baffling element 8 may be implemented as being removable from the coffee machine 1. Hence, the air guiding surface 9 can be easily cleaned. In order to further improve the hygienic properties of the convection structural unit, at least the air guiding surface 9 can comprise at least one of water-repellent and antimicrobial properties.

In all, it can be seen that the proposed coffee machine 1 is ef ¬ fective in venting the interior, in particular in exhausting secondary or by-products generated during operation of the cof ¬ fee machine 1. List of reference numerals

1 coffee machine

2 main body

3 drip plate

4 beverage dispenser outlet

5 water tank

5a lid

6 top wall

7 cabinet

8 air baffling element

9 air guiding surface

10 exhaust vent opening

11 vertical rearward wall 12 shoulder

13 outer trailing edge

14 inner leading edge

TB thermo block

BU brewing unit