Coffee dates back to the 10th century in Ethiopia. It was not until the 20th century, however, that coffee producers realized the benefits of nitrogen for their product. Nitrogen preserves coffee’s integrity and greatly extends the shelf life of the product. More and more, coffee producers are using on-site nitrogen gas generators and saving a bundle by doing so.
The Problems with Oxygen
Oxygen comprises 21% of the atmosphere on Earth. We know it as the gas we need to breathe and sustain life. However, due to its molecular structure, oxygen reacts easily with other chemicals in a process called oxidation and it can cause problematic reactions, especially pertaining to preservation.
The rust on your car is due to reactions with oxygen, and a similar process inside your body can be a health concern. Even the surface of Mars is famously reddish in hue because of rusty dust in the atmosphere.
Oxidation presents a problem for food producers, including those who package and sell coffee. When coffee beans are ground up, the oil inside is exposed to air and can quickly lose its aroma and flavor, leaving behind a bitter taste.
Nitrogen is an inert gas that does not tend to react with other substances. This makes it an ideal gas for food packaging. By removing oxygen and replacing it with nitrogen, coffee producers can extend the shelf life of their product and preserve the integrity of the aroma and flavor. This is because, unlike oxygen, nitrogen does not react with, and therefore does not change, the oils from the coffee beans.
In addition, nitrogen is not a useful fuel for microbes. This means that mold and other things are less likely to grow on the coffee while it sits on a shelf, making nitrogen the perfect choice for the food packaging industry.
The Coffee Packaging Process
Coffee packages pass into a vertical form-and-fill system. First, the bags fill with nitrogen, which pushes the oxygen out. At this point, the bag fills with ground coffee beans. When the bag is full of coffee beans and while it is still flush with nitrogen, the machine seals the bag. What’s inside is simply coffee and pure nitrogen.
With nitrogen sealed coffee bags, coffee producers can extend their sales reach without the constraints of a short shelf life. They can even package coffee for vending machines due to the extended preservation.
On-Site Nitrogen Generation
By having nitrogen fillers on-site, coffee producers can save thousands of dollars. Furthermore, gas providers can install a nitrogen filling station so that producers can refill their nitrogen cylinders on-site, rather than sending them away for refilling. Providers also generally offer routine maintenance of the filling station so that there are no interruptions in service and production.
Nitrogen-filled packaging is a successful solution to the problems of oxidation. It allows producers to ship their product further due to the longer shelf life. They can also achieve new ways of bringing their products to consumers, such as in vending machines, without sacrificing the quality or safety of the product. When producers install on-site generators, all of the advantages of the product combine with reduced costs so that both producer and consumer benefit.
Opting for nitrogen generators can enhance your business’ food packaging process. On Site Gas offers high-quality nitrogen generators for businesses in any industry. Contact us today to learn more about our products and how nitrogen can work for you.