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Title:
A METHOD OF DISPENSING A BEVERAGE, A BEVERAGE PREPARATION MACHINE AND A SYSTEM
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2014/096947
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A method of dispensing a beverage comprising: a) inserting a beverage ingredient tablet (20) into a beverage preparation machine (30); b) measuring a characteristic associated with the thickness of at least a portion of the beverage ingredient tablet (20) to identify the beverage ingredient tablet (20); c) configuring one or more dispense parameters of the beverage preparation machine (30) based on the identification of the beverage ingredient tablet (20); and d) operating the beverage preparation machine (30) to dispense a beverage by contacting the beverage ingredient tablet (20) with an aqueous fluid.

Inventors:
HANSEN, Nick, Andrew (17 Pitmaston Close, Banbury, Oxfordshire 0X16 1AH, US)
CARR, Simon (1 Collins Drive, Bloxham, Banbury OX15 4FR, GB)
Application Number:
IB2013/002856
Publication Date:
June 26, 2014
Filing Date:
December 06, 2013
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
KRAFT FOODS R&D, INC. (Three Lakes Drive, Northfield, IL, 60093, US)
International Classes:
A23F5/12; A23L23/10
Domestic Patent References:
WO2011000725A12011-01-06
WO2012001106A22012-01-05
WO2013046149A12013-04-04
WO2009081250A22009-07-02
Foreign References:
AT511357A42012-11-15
Download PDF:
Claims:
Claims :

1. A method of dispensing a beverage comprising:

a) inserting a beverage ingredient tablet into a beverage preparation machine;

b) measuring a characteristic associated with the thickness of at least a portion of the beverage ingredient tablet to identify the beverage ingredient tablet;

c) configuring one or more dispense parameters of the beverage preparation machine based on the identification of the beverage ingredient tablet; and

d) operating the beverage preparation machine to dispense a beverage by contacting the beverage ingredient tablet with an aqueous fluid.

2. The method of claim 1 wherein the one or more dispense parameters are selected from the group comprising:

temperature of the aqueous fluid; volume of the aqueous fluid dispensed; flow rate of the aqueous fluid; pressure of the aqueous fluid; and presence or absence of a pre-wet stage .

3. The method of claim 1 or claim 2 wherein in step b) a characteristic associated with the overall thickness of the beverage ingredient tablet from an uppermost surface to a lowermost surface is measured.

4. The method of claim 1 or claim 2 wherein the beverage ingredient tablet comprises a. recess in at least one

exterior surface and in step b) a characteristic associated with the thickness of the beverage ingredient tablet, between a bottom of the recess and an opposed exterior face is measured.

5. The method of any preceding claim wherein the

characteristic associated with the thickness of at least a portion of the beverage ingredient tablet is measured using a displaceable probe.

6. A beverage preparation machine comprising:

a chamber for receiving a beverage ingredient tablet; a source of aqueous fluid;

a heater for varying the temperature of the aqueous fluid;

a sensor for measuring for measuring a characteristic associated with the thickness of at least a portion of the beverage ingredient tablet in use;

a controller associated with the source of aqueous fluid, the heater and the sensor;

the controller being programmed to identify the

beverage ingredient tablet based on the characteristic measurement and configure one or more dispense parameters of the beverage preparation machine based on said

identification.

7. The beverage preparation machine of claim 6 wherein the one or more dispense parameters configured by the controller are selected from the group comprising: temperature of the aqueous fluid; volume of the aqueous fluid dispensed; flow rate of the aqueous fluid; pressure of the aqueous fluid; and presence or absence of a pre-wet stage.

8. The beverage preparation machine of claim 6 or claim 7 wherein the sensor is configured to measure a characteristic associated with the overall thickness of the beverage ingredient tablet from an uppermost surface to a lowermost surface .

9. The beverage preparation machine of claim 6 or claim 7 wherein the beverage ingredient tablet to be used comprises a recess in at least one exterior surface and the sensor is configured to measure a characteristic associated with the thickness of the beverage ingredient tablet between a bottom of the recess and an opposed exterior face.

10. The beverage preparation machine of any of claims 6 to 9 wherein the sensor comprises a displaceable probe.

11. The beverage preparation machine of claim 10 wherein the displaceable probe comprises a probe part and a

movement-sensing part.

12. The beverage preparation machine of claim 11 wherein the movement-sensing part. comprises a roller part engageable with the probe part, , wherein displacement of the probe part causes the roller part to rotate, wherein the roller part produces an output signal associated with the degree of displacement of the probe part.

13. The beverage preparation machine of claim 11 wherein the movement-sensing part comprises an optical detector and the probe part comprises a series of graduations, wherein displacement of the probe part causes the graduations to move past the optical detector, thereby allowing the optical detector to produce an output signal associated with the degree of displacement of the probe part .

14. The beverage preparation machine as claimed in any of claims 10 to 13 wherein the displaceable probe is associated with the chamber and is located underneath the location of the beverage ingredient tablet.

15. The beverage preparation machine as claimed in any of claims 10 to 13 wherein the displaceable probe is associated with the chamber and the displaceable probe is located above the location of the beverage ingredient tablet .

16. A system comprising a beverage preparation machine as claimed in any of claims 6 to 15 and a beverage ingredient tablet .

17. The system of claim 16 wherein the beverage ingredient tablet comprises a compacted powder tablet containing one or more powdered beverage ingredients .

18. The system of claim 16 or claim 17 wherein the beverage ingredient tablet comprises a recess in at least one

exterior surface .

Description:
A Method of Dispensing a Beverage, a Beverage Preparation

Machine, and a System

The present disclosure relates to a method of

dispensing a beverage, a beverage preparation machine and a system.

Background

Machines for dispensing beverages are well known. For example, it is known to produce coffee-based beverages using drip-filter machines and espresso machines. Such machines may use roasted ground coffee which may be provided in loose form or in individual filter-wrapped doses in the form of pods or pouches .

Roasted ground coffee may also be formed into tablets, for example as described in CA808588. Typically, the coffee tablet is formed from pressed and compacted roasted ground coffee. The high compaction pressures used result in a coffee tablet that retains its shape during normal handling without the need for any overwrap or cover. Such coffee tablets may be used in espresso machines and filter

machines .

•In more recent times 'on-demand' beverage machines have been marketed which allow for beverages to be produced on an individual basis as required by a user from individual sealed capsules, cartridges or flexible bags of ground coffee. Still more recently, beverage machines allowing for convenient, on demand dispensation of a range of beverage types have been produced. One example of such a system is marketed under the brand name TASSIMO ® by Kraft Foods, Inc. This system (as described in EP1440639) utilises a beverage preparation machine that comprises a barcode reader and a range of beverage cartridges wherein each beverage cartridge contains one or more beverage ingredients and is coded with a barcode. In use, the barcode reader of the beverage machine scans and reads the barcode on a beverage cartridge after it is inserted into the machine and uses information decoded from the barcode to set one or more dispensation parameters of the beverage machine for that dispensation cycle .

Brief Summary of the Disclosure

According to the present disclosure there is provided a method of dispensing a beverage comprising:

a) inserting a beverage ingredient tablet into a beverage preparation machine ;

b) measuring a characteristic associated with the thickness of at least a portion of the beverage ingredient tablet to identify the beverage ingredient tablet;

c) configuring one or more dispense parameters of the beverage preparation machine based on the identification of the beverage ingredient tablet; and

d) operating the beverage preparation machine to dispense a beverage by contacting the beverage ingredient tablet with an aqueous fluid.

Advantageously, the method allows the dispense

parameters to be tailored to the requirements of each type of beverage ingredient tablet unlike prior art methods of using beverage ingredient tablets which cannot readily distinguish between different tablet types.

The one or more dispense parameters may be selected from the group comprising: temperature of the aqueous fluid; volume of the aqueous fluid dispensed; flow rate of the aqueous fluid; pressure of the aqueous fluid; and presence or absence of a pre-wet stage.

In step b) a characteristic associated with the overall thickness of the beverage ingredient tablet from an

uppermost surface to a lowermost surface may be measured.

Alternatively, the beverage ingredient tablet may comprise a recess in at least one exterior surface and in step b) a characteristic associated with the thickness of the beverage ingredient tablet between a bottom of the recess and an opposed exterior face may be measured.

Using a characteristic associated with the thickness of at least a part of the beverage ingredient tablet itself for identification avoids the need to provide a separate

identifier, such as a label or cover. This results in less environmental waste and a simplified manufacturing and utilisation process.

The characteristic associated with the thickness of at least a portion of the beverage ingredient tablet may be measured using a displaceable probe.

The present disclosure also provides a beverage

preparation machine comprising:

a chamber for receiving a beverage ingredient tablet; a source of aqueous fluid;

a heater for varying the temperature of the aqueous fluid;

a sensor for measuring for measuring a characteristic associated with the thickness of at least a portion of the beverage ingredient tablet in use;

a controller associated with the source of aqueous fluid, the heater and the sensor;

the controller being programmed to identify the

beverage ingredient tablet based on the characteristic measurement and configure one or more dispense parameters of the beverage preparation machine based on said

identification.

The one or more dispense parameters configured by the controller may be selected from the group comprising:

temperature of the aqueous fluid; volume of the aqueous fluid dispensed; flow rate of the aqueous fluid; pressure of the aqueous fluid; and presence or absence of a pre-wet stage .

The sensor may be configured to measure a

characteristic associated with the overall thickness of the beverage ingredient tablet from an uppermost surface to a lowermost surface .

Alternatively, the beverage ingredient tablet to be used may comprise a recess in at least one exterior surface and the sensor may be configured to measure a characteristic associated with the thickness of the beverage ingredient tablet between a bottom of the recess and an opposed

exterior face.

The sensor may comprise a displaceable probe. The displaceable probe may comprise a probe part and a movement- sensing part.

The movement- sensing part may comprise a roller part engageable with the probe part, wherein displacement of the probe part causes the roller part to rotate, the degree of rotation being a characteristic associated with the

thickness of at least a portion of the tablet, wherein the roller part produces an output signal associated with the degree of displacement of the probe part.

Alternatively, the ; movement- sensing part may comprise an optical detector and the probe part may comprise a series of graduations, wherein displacement of the probe part causes the graduations to move past the optical detector, the number of graduations passing the detector being a characteristic associated with the thickness of at least a portion of the tablet, thereby allowing the optical detector to produce an output signal associated with the degree of displacement of the probe part.

The graduations oh the probe part may be in any form discernable by the optical detector. Examples include a plurality of spaced printed lines, a series of spaced raised protuberances, a series of spaced grooves.

The displaceable probe may also use mechanical sensing of the degree of movement of the probe part . For example , the probe part may comprise a series of raised protuberances and the movement-sensing part may comprise a series of switches which can be switched on engagement by the

protuberances .

The displaceable probe may be associated with the chamber and be located underneath the location of the beverage ingredient tablet. In this case, the beverage ingredient tablet may be displaced along with the probe part by the closing of the brew chamber. In one example, a lower part of the brew chamber remains stationary and the probe part and movement- sensing part are associated with the lower part. An upper part of the brew chamber is movable between an open position to allow insertion of the beverage

ingredient tablet and a closed position to seal the brew chamber. On closure of the upper part of the brew chamber ' the beverage ingredient tablet is contacted and the tablet and probe part are displaced relative to the movement- sensing part and a remainder of the lower part.

Alternatively, the displaceable probe may be associated with the chamber and the displaceable probe be located above the location of the beverage ingredient tablet. In this case, the beverage ingredient tablet may remain stationary during measurement. In one example, a lower part of the brew chamber remains stationary. An upper part of the brew chamber is movable between an open position to allow

insertion of the beverage ingredient tablet and a closed position to seal the brew chamber. The probe part and movement-sensing part are associated with the upper part. On closure of the upper part of the brew chamber the beverage ingredient tablet is contacted but is not displaceable .

Hence the probe part is displaced relative to the movement- sensing part and the remainder of the upper part of the brew chamber. In another example, a lower part of the brew chamber again remains stationary. An upper part of the brew chamber comprises a projection shaped to be accommodated in a recess of the beverage ingredient tablet. The upper part is movable between an open position to allow insertion of the beverage ingredient tablet and a closed position to seal the brew chamber. The probe part and movement-sensing part are associated with the lower part. On closure of the upper part of the brew chamber the beverage ingredient tablet is contacted by the projections and is displaced along with the probe part relative to the movement-sensing part and the remainder of the lower part of the brew chamber .

The present disclosure also provides a system

comprising a beverage preparation machine as described above and a beverage ingredient tablet .

The beverage ingredient tablet may comprise a compacted powder tablet containing one or more powdered beverage ingredients .

The beverage ingredient tablet may comprise a recess in at least one exterior surface. The beverage ingredient tablet may comprise one or more ingredients in varying proportions. The ingredients may include, amongst others: roasted ground coffee, soluble coffee, soluble tea, milk powder, non-dairy whitener, sugar, artificial sweeteners. The beverage ingredient tablet may include one or more additives for colouring the tablet. The beverage ingredient tablet may in addition include binders or other excipients such as starches, maltodextrin and carboxymethylcellulose .

The beverage ingredient tablet may take any desired geometric form, for example, a cross-section which is circular, square, rectangular or oval.

While it is preferably to measure a characteristic associated with the thickness of the beverage ingredient tablet in a direction associated with the vertical height of the tablet when located in the brew chamber this is not essential. Alternatively, the sensor may be configured to measure the characteristic of another characteristic

dimension of the beverage ingredient tablet, such as for example the horizontal width of the tablet when located in the brew chamber. The direction of measurement of the characteristic may also vary depending on the insertion orientation of the beverage ingredient tablet in the brew chamber .

Where the beverage ingredient tablet comprises a recess, recesses may be provided on the upper face, lower face or both upper and lower faces of the tablet.

Brief Description of the Drawings

Examples of the present disclosure will now be

described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which: Figure 1 is a flow chart of a method according to the present disclosure;

Figures 2 is a schematic view of a first type of beverage ingredient tablet according to the present

disclosure;

Figure 3a is a cross-sectional schematic view of the tablet of Figure 2 ;

Figures 3b to 3d are cross-sectional schematic views of second, third and fourth types of beverage ingredient tablet according to the present disclosure;

Figure 4 is a schematic view of a beverage preparation machine according to the present disclosure including a brew chamber;

Figure 5 is a schematic view of a first type of brew chamber for the beverage preparation machine of Figure 4 ;

Figure 6 is a schematic view of a second type of brew chamber for the beverage preparation machine of Figure 4 ;

Figure 7 is a schematic view of a third type of brew chamber for the beverage preparation machine of Figure 4 ; and

Figure 8 is a schematic view of a fourth type of brew chamber for the beverage preparation machine of Figure 4.

Detailed Description

In this specification unless otherwise required by the context, the following terms have the following meanings:

"Roasted coffee" means a coffee substance that has been produced by the roasting of green coffee beans. The

substance may be in the , form of a roasted coffee bean or in some other form produced by onward processing steps such as grinding, decaffeination, pressing, etc. Particular examples of roasted coffee include roasted coffee beans, roasted expeller cake, roasted and flaked coffee.

"Roasted ground coffee" means a roasted coffee

substance that has been subject to a comminution process in order to reduce the particle size of the original roasted coffee substance. Again, unless otherwise required by the context the comminution process may include one or more of grinding, chopping, pounding and crushing.

"Beverage ingredient tablet" means a tablet of

powdered/granular material which is self-load-bearing such that it may be, for example, unwrapped, handled and placed in a beverage preparation machine without substantially disintegrating. The self-load-bearing capacity may be derived from compression of the tablet ingredients. In addition, or alternatively, the tablet may comprise one or more binding components. The beverage ingredient tablet may contain one or a mixture of ingredients. The ingredients may include, for example, roasted ground coffee, instant coffee, tea, milk powder, or ( instant soup. The tablet may also include one or more additional components, for example, foamers, bulking agents, colouring agents, binders,

sweeteners, etc.

As shown in Figure 1, the method of the present

disclosure comprises a first step 10 of inserting a beverage ingredient tablet into a beverage preparation machine; a second step 11 of measuring a characteristic dimension associated with at least a portion of the beverage

ingredient tablet to identify the beverage ingredient tablet; a third step 12 of configuring one or more dispense parameters of the beverage preparation machine based on the identification of the beverage ingredient tablet; and a fourth step 13 of operating the beverage preparation machine to dispense a beverage by contacting the beverage ingredient tablet with an aqueous fluid, such as hot water to dissolve the tablet.

The beverage preparation machine 30 is shown

schematically in Figure 4 and comprises a brew chamber 31 which in use can receive a beverage ingredient tablet 20 therein. A source of water 33, which may be an internal reservoir of water or a connection to an external

pressurised source of water such as a mains water supply, is connected to the brew chamber 31 via a flow heater 34. A pump (not shown) may be used to transport the water from the source 33 to the brew chamber 31. A cup stand 35 is provided on which a receptacle 40 may be placed to receive the dispensed beverage from an outlet 32 of the brew chamber 31. The brew chamber 31 also has associated with it a sensor 37 which is used to measure the characteristic associated with the thickness of the beverage ingredient tablet 20. A controller 36 is operatively connected to the sensor 37, flow heater 34 and the source of water 33 and/or pump where present to control operation of the beverage preparation machine 30. The controller 36 includes a program memory for storing details of a plurality of dispense parameters and operating instructions for the various components of the beverage preparation machine 30.

The source of water 33, flow heater 34 and cup stand 35 may all be of conventional design, the details of which are well known to the person skilled in the art. They will therefore not be described in further detail.

Embodiments of beverage ingredient tablet 20 are shown in Figures 2, and 3a to 3d.

The beverage ingredient tablet 20 of Figures 2 and 3a is a first type of tablet that can be used. Each beverage ingredient tablet comprises a cylindrical tablet with a substantially planar upper and lower face. The thickness of the tablet between the upper and lower faces can be

configured to be different for each intended beverage type. The following is one example:

The beverage ingredient tablet 20 is designed to be used in a brew chamber 31 of the type shown in Figure 5. The brew chamber 31 comprises an upper part 50 and a lower part 51. The upper part 50 is moveable between open and closed positions. In the closed position a sealed chamber is formed for receiving the beverage ingredient tablet 20 therein. A water inlet 38 is provided to the upper part 50 which is fluidly connected to the outlet of the flow heater 34. An outlet of the lower part 51 of the brew chamber is fluidly connected to the outlet 32 of the beverage preparation machine. The sensor 37 is mounted to, or formed as part of, the brew chamber 31. In the illustrated embodiment the sensor 37 is associated with the lower part 51 and comprises a movement-sensing part 53 and a displaceable probe part 52. The movement-sensing part comprises an optical detector. The displaceable probe part 52 comprises a piston having a series of graduations 56 printed on the side thereof. An upper end of the piston forms the lower end of the sealed chamber and forms the support for the beverage ingredient tablet 20. The piston is biased into an upward resting position. Dynamic seals 55 are located between the

displaceable probe part 52 and the lower part 51.

In use, a consumer chooses a beverage ingredient tablet 20 of the required type, for example, an espresso tablet, and inserts it into the brew chamber 31 on top of the piston. The upper part 50 of the brew chamber is then closed causing it to contact the beverage ingredient tablet 20 and displace it and the piston downwardly. Consequently, the graduations 56 are displaced past the optical detector 53 which detects the degree of movement of the piston which is characteristic of the thickness of the tablet 20. The output from the optical detector 53 is fed to the controller 36 which configures the dispense parameters of the beverage preparation machine in accordance with a program stored in memory associated with the type of beverage ingredient tablet detected. Dispensation can then take place either automatically or on initiation of a further consumer input.

Figure 8 illustrates an alternative brew chamber 31 that can make use of the tablets 20. As before, the brew chamber 31 comprises an upper part 50 and a lower part 51. In this alternative arrangement the sensor 37 comprises a movement-sensing part 70 and the displaceable probe part 52. The displaceable probe part 52 is provided with an angled surface 73 against which a head 72 of the movement-sensing part 70 is biased by a spring. The movement-sensing part 70 is provided with the graduations 56. An optical detector 71 is located in the lower part 51 arranged to detect movement of the graduations 56. In use, as before, a beverage ingredient tablet 20 is inserted into the brew chamber 31 on top of the piston. The upper part 50 of the ; brew chamber is then closed causing it to contact the beverage ingredient tablet 20 and displace it and the piston downwardly. Downward movement of the probe part 52 causes sideways movement of the movement-sensing part 70 due to the interaction of the head 72 sliding along the angled surface 73. Consequently, the graduations 56 are displaced past the optical detector 71 which detects the degree of movement of the piston which is characteristic of the thickness of the tablet 20.

The beverage ingredient tablet 20 of Figures 3a to 3d can form a second type of tablet that can be used. Each beverage ingredient tablet 20 comprises a cylindrical tablet with a substantially planar lower face. However a recess 21 of varying depth is. provided in the upper face. The

thickness of the tablet between the bottom of the recess 21 and the lower face can be configured to be different for each intended beverage type. The following is one example wherein the nominal thickness of the tablet between upper and lower faces is 20 mm:

For the espresso tablet 20 of Figure 3d it will be noted that the recess 21 extends through the entire tablet. For the Chocolate tablet 20 of Figure 3a the recess is zero, i.e. there is no recess.

Of course the recess 21 could be alternatively provided in the lower face of the tablets or recesses in both faces could be utilised.

The beverage ingredient tablet 20 is designed to be used in a brew chamber 31 of the type shown in Figure 6 or 7 which are similar to the brew chamber 31 of Figure 5.

Therefore only the differences there between will now be described.

In the embodiment of Figure 6, the optical detector 53 and displaceable probe part 52 of sensor 37 are associated with the upper part 50 and comprises a movement-sensing part in the form of an optical detector 53 and a displaceable probe part in the form of a piston 52 as before. A lower end 57 of the piston has a tapered form configured to be

receivable in the recess 21 of the beverage ingredient tablet 20. The piston is biased into a downward resting position. Dynamic seals 55 are located between the

displaceable probe part 52 and the upper part 50. The lower part 51 comprises a hollow 59 for accommodating the tablet.

In use, a consumer chooses a beverage ingredient tablet 20 of the required type, for example, an espresso tablet, and inserts it into the hollow 59. The upper part 50 of the brew chamber is then closed causing the tapered portion 57 of piston 52 to enter the recess 21 and contact the base of the recess 21 (or contact the upper face when the tablet of Figure 3a is used or to contact the hollow 39 when the tablet of Figure 3d is used) . Further closing movement of the upper part 50 causes the piston to move upwardly

relative to the remainder of the upper part 50 and also the optical detector 53..Consequently, as before, the graduations 56 are displaced past the optical detector 53 which detects the degree of movement of the piston which is characteristic of the thickness of the portion of the tablet 20 extending between the base of the recess 21 and the lower face of the tablet. The output from the optical detector 53 is fed to the controller 36 which configures the dispense parameters as before.

In the embodiment of Figure 7, the optical detector 53 and displaceable probe part 52 of sensor 37 are associated with the lower part 51 and comprises a movement-sensing part in the form of an optical detector 53 and a displaceable probe part in the form of a piston 52 as before. The piston is biased into a downward resting position. The upper part 50 comprises a projection 61 having a tapered end configured to be receivable in the recess 21 of the beverage ingredient tablet 20. The projection 61 is fixed relative to a

remainder of the upper part 50.

In use, a consumer chooses a beverage ingredient tablet 20 of the required type, for example, an espresso tablet, and inserts it into the brew mechanism 31 to rest on top of the piston 52. The upper part 50 of the brew chamber is then closed causing the tapered portion of the projection 61 to enter the recess 21 and contact the base of the recess 21 (or contact the upper face when the tablet of Figure 3a is used or to contact the piston .52 when the tablet of Figure 3d is used) . Further closing movement of the upper part 50 causes the piston to move downwardly relative to the

remainder of the lower part 51 and also the optical detector 53. Consequently, as before, the graduations 56 are

displaced past the optical detector 53 which detects the degree of movement of the piston which is characteristic of the thickness of the portion of the tablet 20 extending between the base of the recess 21 and the lower face of the tablet. The output from the optical detector 53 is fed to the controller 36 which configures the dispense parameters as before .

The dispense parameters that may be configured include the volume of water dispensed, the temperature of the water, the pressure of the water, the flow rate of the water, and the presence or absence of a pre-wet stage.