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Nitrogen Generators

Coffee Packaging and Nitrogen Generation


Learn how nitrogen is essential to bringing fresh, flavorful coffee to our cups in honor of International Coffee Day, celebrated on Sunday, September 29th!

For many of us, coffee is an early-morning staple; going without would severely hinder productivity levels (and good attitudes). However, this wasn’t always the norm! The crop’s origins lie in 10th century Ethiopia, where it then spread quickly throughout the Arabian Peninsula; eventually it wound its way throughout Europe and into the Americas by the mid-17th century. From there, its popularity exploded, and today coffee is considered to be the world’s second-most valuable commodity (after crude oil).

A significant portion of the coffee industry focuses on roasting beans, which is what allows their full flavor, color, and aroma to emerge. Emerging as an industry in the 13th century, it was quickly discovered that the longer coffee beans are left exposed to air, the staler and less flavorful they become. Another downside is decreased shelf life, given that oxygen starts degrading the coffee beans immediately after roasting. However, utilizing a process called “nitrogen flushing” helps to extend shelf life and ensure the coffee beans (and ground coffee) remain fresh and flavorful.

Nitrogen Generators Essential to Coffee Packaging

An essential aspect of the modern coffee packaging process is flushing the bag with nitrogen. Simply put, nitrogen gas is injected into the bag where the coffee beans/grounds are placed, thus displacing the oxygen and moisture that are within. Nitrogen is the best gas to use in this process because it is inert, meaning that it doesn’t interact with (or degrade) the oils in the coffee as oxygen would. In fact, coffee oils can even oxidize over time, which makes it even more essential to use nitrogen to prevent this from occurring!

The benefits of nitrogen flushing is twofold. Firstly, when consumers purchase and open the bag days, weeks, or even months after packaging, the coffee will taste as fresh as the day it was packaged! The same applies for espresso pods and coffee pods – nitrogen flushing ensures the freshness of the grounds residing in your coffee pod of choice. The second reasons is that nitrogen flushing ensures that your coffee beans & grounds retain their strong coffee aroma – which is key for avid coffee drinkers.

Heard of Nitro Coffee?

One of the newer and more innovative ways of employing nitrogen in the coffee industry is by using it to create something called “nitro coffee," also called nitro cold brew by a few well-known coffee houses. This coffee is created by infusing pressurized nitrogen gas (sometimes a C02 and nitrogen blend) directly into a keg with the coffee. It’s then chilled and served on tap! The taste is typically smoother and less bitter than iced coffees – and it has a foamy head, similar to a nitro draft beer.

On-Site Nitrogen Generation

For those companies packaging coffee, having an on-site nitrogen generation solution (rather than relying on nitrogen tank rentals & deliveries) is essential. This allows packagers to have a reliable, consistent nitrogen supply, as well as eliminates the numerous safety issues that go along with large nitrogen tanks. 

Did you know that Atlas Copco can reduce the cost of delivered Nitrogen by 80% or more?  While the national average for delivered bulk LN2 is around $1.00/CCF, Atlas Copco can generate this gas for $0.20/CCF or less! 

Learn more about the benefits of on-site nitrogen by downloading The P.R.I.C.E. Benefits of On-Site Nitrogen Generation today!

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