Spotlight on machine innovation and technology at Nestlé

Mar 25, 2011

A combination of machine technology and pioneering capsule innovation is what fills your cup of Nestlé at home.

For over a quarter of a century, the Company has adapted new technologies and designed new machines to lead and change the habits of beverage drinkers.

Offering a quadruple of innovative beverage-making systems for consumers – including premium coffee system Nespresso, the “coffee-at-home” concept Nescafé Dolce Gusto, Japanese exclusive Nescafé Barista, and premium portioned tea machine Special.T – Nestlé has led machine development for every taste since 1986.

Alfred Yoakim, who leads the research and development programme in Systems Technology at Nestlé, explained why each unique machine brand has a different formula for success.

He said: “Each machine has the Nestlé brand, but it has its own identity. Under the Nestlé umbrella, we have kept the characteristics of each.

“But also we had to come up with new technologies to improve the machines and from that, we also changed the designs to make them user-friendly. With this, we created a new trend of new models and machines. Now it is something that is in the mindsets of our customers – when is the next new model or innovation?”

Mr Yoakim emphasised the importance of creativity and believed it is about thinking beyond the box to create something totally different. “If you want to make a real innovation, it’s about starting with the imagination, having the freedom to do so and then taking that opportunity”, he added.

Nespresso machine NESPRESSO: Designed to provide the ultimate coffee experience.

Nespresso – 1986

Born over 25 years ago, Nespresso’s technology is a mixture of machine efficiency and high-tech capsule which makes the beverage.

The Grand Cru coffees are encased in air-tight capsules to ensure that the coffee remains fresh to provide Nespresso quality and taste.

HansPeter Pleisch, who heads machine development for In Home Delivery Systems at Nestlé Product Technology Centre (PTC) in Orbe, Switzerland, provided an insight into how placing the technology from the capsule into the machine innovated – and challenged – the way coffee is made.

Mr Pleisch said: “The industry of coffee machines has changed over the past 25 years. We have been building up a huge amount of technology and renovating the industry.

“We have introduced our capsules and developed our systems around them. By building this up alongside our cutting-edge designs and technologies, this challenged the traditional way of making beverages.

“In the 1990s we were still learning before we came up with new materials and treatments, new technologies such as thermo-blocks, and new designs. It was a driving force of our engineers in improving our machines and capsules based on weekly consumer insight and feedback.”

Mr Pleisch added: “We believe we have innovated the traditional way to make coffee by replacing the capsule / sleeve holder with a ‘jaw closing’ mechanism. Nespresso machines were the first machines to be launched worldwide without the traditional capsule holder.

“In collaboration with PTC Orbe, we took out technology in the Nespresso capsule and replaced it by developing and placing specific technology into the machine. We developed the ‘pyramid plate’ which is the piercing interface between the machine, and the capsule which always ensures the best conditions for each beverage. This simplicity enhanced our system, which is trusted by consumers as it simplifies their experience. What was then established has been further improved and sustained over the last 25 years.”

This fine-tuning has led Nespresso to deliver strong leadership and continuous innovation in the premium portioned coffee sector.

Nescafé Dolce Gusto – 2006

Ten years later,Nescafé Dolce Gusto was launched in 2006 in Switzerland, Germany and the United Kingdom.

Nescafé Dolce Gusto NESCAFÉ DOLCE GUSTO: Easy-to-use pod system designed to provide coffee shop quality at home.

Focusing on design and technology, the Nescafé Dolce Gusto “coffee shop coffee-at-home” machine can switch from hot to cold. Nescafé, Nestea and Nesquik capsules are available for the five machine ranges including Melody, Circolo, Piccolo, Fontana and Creativa.

According to Jean-Bernard Palthey, Project Manager for Machines at Nestlé, the capsule is what drives the technology.

With a ‘pyramid plate’ at the base of the capsule, this is covered by an aluminium membrane where the beverage ingredients are encased on top.

The pressure is built inside the capsule from the injection of water from the machine, which then pierces the pyramid plate and aluminium membrane to concoct the beverage inside, before being released.

But the drink cannot be made without the machines. The three ranges include a manual machine where this simple and cost-effective variety is handled by the user to create a personalised beverage. Next is the ‘Flow Stop’ machine, where this computerised variety delivers the exact measurement for each beverage to heighten convenience. In addition, the new Flow Stop edition uses the same well-known technology but uses a control ‘mouse’ to choose the beverage recipe.

Mr Palthey said: “With years and years of deep knowledge with Nescafé, the Dolce Gusto brand strengthens our position in the coffee world and is now a valuable tool. Each machine and capsule has been well thought through to cater for the world’s coffee habits.”

He continued: “We have simplified technology, and for our consumers this means simplified functionalities. Nescafé Dolce Gusto shows our ability to innovate through technology, while also rejuvenating the Nescafé brand and expanding into new territories.”

Working with commercial partners Krups and Delonghi, the machines are engineered by Nestlé, who own the design, and a number of Swiss-based companies.

Having launched Piccolo, Fontana and Creativa in 2010, the next few years looks set for more launches.

Nescafé Barista machine NESCAFÉ BARISTA: The only at-home coffee by the cup system of its kind using soluble coffee.

Nescafé Barista – 2008

In 2008, Nescafé Barista was developed as the only at-home coffee by the cup system of its kind using soluble coffee. It offers a full café multi-cup menu at the push of a button.

Exclusively available in Japan, consumers can enjoy five delicious, full-bodied types of coffee including cappuccino, café latte, espresso-type, black coffee and mug-sized black coffee.

Used with the patented Nescafé Eco & System refill pack, the machine can make real crema to produce frothy foam – which was impossible to achieve before when preparing a cup of instant coffee in the traditional way.

Mr Pleisch, who works closely with a team of ten mechanical engineers on machines such as Nescafé Dolce Gusto and Nescafé Barista, explained simply how it works.

The Nescafé Barista machine prepares soluble coffee which is placed in the tank of the machine. Once dosed, the coffee is brought to the front of the machine by a specific mechanism driven by a motor. This is then led to the mixing chamber which blends the beverage to generate the crema. Mixed with fresh heated water, the beverage is ready to drink.

With its state-of-the-art technology and brand created in alliance with designers Bravis International, as well as the cup quality and great convenience that it offers; the product breaks the common misconception in Japan that “roast and ground coffee is more delicious than instant coffee”, therefore bringing new value to the world of instant coffee.

Special.T – 2010

Launched in September last year, the Special.T tea machine is based on a proprietary system of single-serving capsules containing top quality, premium portioned tea and specialised machines, similar to the Nestlé Nespresso system for coffee.

Special.T SPECIAL.T MACHINE: The innovative system calculates the perfect brewing time and temperature for each individual tea variety.

Special.T offers a selection of 25 tea varieties – ranging from green, black, blue, red and white teas, to flavoured teas and organic herb teas – which are carefully sourced from selected tea farms in China, Japan, Sri Lanka, India and South Africa.

Overall, Special.T’s qualities excel through the combination of tea leaves selected from the top 1% of the world’s tea harvest and a state-of-the-art machine technology.

The high quality tea leaves are protected by aluminium capsules, with each dosage measured to precision.

The innovation works where the water is filtered inside the tank of the machine to provide a purer cup of tea. From here, it makes it journey to the pump to an instant water heater, different to the thermo-block heater used in Nespresso, Nescafé Barista and Nescafé Dolce Gusto.

Pins in the closed lever pierce the inserted capsule which electronically determines how the beverage is brewed.

The perfect brewing time and temperature for each individual tea variety is calculated, which in turn, releases the full benefits and infusion of the tea beverage.

Available in Flickr

Related Information:
Nespresso corporate
Nescafé Dolce Gusto
Nescafé Barista