Nestlé develops foaming coffee beer system (01/07/06)

Nestlé has filed patents all around the world for a new, foamy coffee drink that is made and looks like beer but contains no alcohol, in a sign it is exploring new product avenues.
Nestlé's technical innovation arm, Nestec, has developed the new system for making fermented coffee and is looking for patent protection in all of the world's major markets. Nestec said the fermented coffee system could be used to produce a soft drink with a strong caffeine kick and an attractive fruity aroma that also “has the appearance of certain types of beers”.
The drink can even have a foamy head after it has been poured into a glass if ‘gassed' or carbonated during production.
“There is a need for new product concepts in the category of soft drink and ready-to-serve coffee-based beverages,” said Nestec.
“There is also a need for a refreshing and stimulating beverage in which harsher flavours and aromas are reduced. This invention aims at providing such a product.”
It added that the group also wanted to provide a fermented beverage that could be a alternative to alcoholic drinks. Decaffeinated versions would also be possible.
It remains to be seen whether the drink would be able to find such a niche in the market. Non-alcoholic drinks have shown growth in a few places, including Russia, the US and UK, with growth focused on the energy/stimulation segment. Anheuser Busch's alcoholic caffeine beer B-to-the-E, which also has a fruity taste, has done well in clubs so far in the US; perhaps opening up space for non-alcoholic coffee beer.
Coffee culture is also rising well, with instant coffee sales now ahead of standard tea in Britain.
A Nestlé spokesperson told that the group "does not have any plans to launch any such product in the near future".

The Basics

Nestec said it had made the beverage by roasting normal coffee beans, adding in a special coffee aroma via a condenser and then fermenting the mixture with a micro-organism, usually yeast, at a temperature below 22¢ªC and above 8¢ªC.
The temperature must be kept below 22¢ªC and the mixture fermented for between four and six hours to prevent the formation of alcohol. Normal fermentation times are much longer.
The yeast used must also be one capable of producing a fruity aroma, although Nestec admitted that the fruity aroma has been a pleasant surprise in early tests.
It said sugar should also be added before fermentation to enhance the coffee aroma, preferably at around 0.5 per cent of the mixture's weight, yet this could rise to 20 per cent. The group added sucrose equivalent to five per cent of the mixture's weight in its prototype drink.
Article by Theodor Zus

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