Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

H2020

ECOBREW2 — Result In Brief

Project ID: 717497
Country: Spain
Domain: Industrial Technologies, Food and Natural Resources

Cleaner, greener espresso coffee maker scooping up international awards

A good cup of coffee is something many people look forward to when out and about. But industrial machines are energy hungry and their parts contain nickel and lead that can leach into that steaming cup you’ve been looking forward to. Now there is a solution.
Cleaner, greener espresso coffee maker scooping up international awards
Research has found that traditional commercial coffee machines may represent a long-term risk for health due to the migration of heavy metals from the machine components into the coffee, notably lead (Pb) and nickel (Ni). But for the coffee addicts out there, don’t despair. An EU funded project, ECOBREW2 has developed a greener, cleaner machine.

Their view of the coffee machine of the future is a more efficient, eco-friendlier and healthier equipment based on nickel and lead-free multiboiler system, independent water circuits for coffee, water and steam, and a telematic platform with internet connection.

“We decided to use new internal components made of newly certified special alloys – low-lead brass – that don’t release heavy metal in the water. By preventing traces of heavy metals from seeping into the drinks, VISION avoids possible health risks,” says Mr Rafael Muñoz, research, development and innovation director at Iberital, the company behind the ECOBREW2 project.

Iberital's self-imposed goals are more restrictive than current regulation and aim to place the brand ahead of the curve, he explains. One way it goes beyond current requirements is by employing an independent circuit system which makes their model the first, professional espresso machine to obtain water for infusions directly from the supply network, not from the steam boiler.

“This avoids the formation of any metal or residual salt arising as a consequence of constant boiling and evaporation. It means the water used is always fresh while the design of the hydraulic circuit in the machine also avoids water stagnation,” says Muñoz.

The project also manages to address the inherent energy wastage so far seen in current machines. Traditional espresso coffee machines are designed to dispense coffee right away – espresso means quick, now –and must store energy in the form of hot water to do so. “But,” says Muñoz, “the traditional internal design is inefficient, and the machine turns into a kind of ‘radiator’ that loses energy in the form of heat.”

In order to reduce this energy loss, Iberital has re-designed its machine's hydraulic system, added thermal isolation, and incorporated a new fast heating system as well as a smart energy management system. Muñoz says, “This allows the user to manage each group independently. This way it optimises energy use. All boilers can be independently adjusted and programmed to be in eco- or sleep-mode in off-peak periods.”

The results speak for themselves: the new machine reduces energy consumption by up to 50 %, depending on the coffee shop coffee consumption pattern. According to predictions, it could reduce energy use in the food and hospitality sector in Europe by 3 % within five years.

But don’t rush out to try and buy one for domestic use. “This is not a machine you can see in your kitchen, especially due its size and power requirements. Nonetheless, some ‘prosumers’ have expressed their interest in owning one,” he explains.

A powerful machine that had a lot of work going into the development phase. The team is grateful for the funding they received. “As a small company we did not have the engineers needed for the research and development phases, nor did we have the people for marketing, and the hiring process delayed the project a little bit, but we are very proud of our team now,” Muñoz is happy to say.

The second challenge they faced was to differentiate themselves from their competitors and gain access to the market. The project partnered with the best teams to get the best industrial designers, IoT connectivity, solution engineering, electronics, and app developers. Muñoz says proudly, “We have developed a disruptive machine. It is different from all the others out there; the ergonomics have changed, the internal hydraulics and electronics are new, we have a tablet with an app to change machine settings, and an IoT connectivity system that is the best on the market.”

And he has a right to feel proud: Iberital Vision has just received international recognition. “We’ve been given the prestigious Green Good Design Award, by the Chicago Atheneum in USA along with an Excellence in Design Award, an acclaimed Italian A'Design Award and have been nominated for the German Design Awards. They all reward our firm determination to build a healthier and more sustainable future through design and technical excellence.”

Keywords

ECOBREW2, espresso maker, Iberital, lead, nickel, contaminant-free coffee, energy efficient, VISION
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