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1. WO2020109883 - CAPSULE POUR LA PRÉPARATION DE BOISSONS INFUSÉES À EXTRACTION AMÉLIORÉE

Note: Texte fondé sur des processus automatiques de reconnaissance optique de caractères. Seule la version PDF a une valeur juridique

[ EN ]
TRANSLATION (RULE 12.3) 15 November 2019

DESCRIPTION

"CAPSULE FOR THE PREPARATION OF INFUSED BEVERAGES WITH

IMPROVED EXTRACTION"

[0001] The subject-matter of the present invention is a single-dose capsule for the preparation of infusion or soluble beverages in an extraction device, comprising in particular infusion holes for the optimal infusion of water to the substance to be infused.

[0002] As is known, in the art is proposed a wide variety of automatic or semi-automatic machines equipped with a preparation and dispensing group capable of producing an infusion by passing water through a capsule containing the food substance to be infused, arranged within a suitable infusion chamber.

[0003] In particular, the known type of capsules comprise a cup, usually made of plastic material, equipped with a circular perimeter edge adapted to obtain a sealed engagement with a relevant abutment edge of the infusion chamber so as to avoid the leakage of hot water outside of the same infusion chamber.

[0004] The water is injected into the inner cavity of the capsule through special injection nozzles of the machine that dispense an adequate amount of water at a given pressure and temperature.

[0005] Obtaining an adequate perfusion of water throughout the food substance to be infused, contained in the inner cavity of the capsule, is one of the most significant problems in the specific sector.

[0006] In effect, some of the parameters that particularly influence the aroma and organoleptic properties of the infused beverage reside precisely in the timing and in the way the water flows through the food substance from the moment it is dispensed by the nozzles of the extraction machine to the moment it exits through the outlet opening of the capsule.

[0007] In particular, an excessively fast flow of water through the substance does not allow the water to optimally collect the aroma from the substance, generating a beverage with a less intense flavor; conversely, an excessively slow flow of water in the substance may generate a beverage flavor that is too intense or a failure to dispense the beverage in the desired timing.

[0008] In particular, in the field of coffee dispensing, the aforesaid problems are particularly significant, since, in the case of extraction machines with predetermined dispensing parameters (times and temperatures) (and therefore not variable at will), the need is felt to be able to obtain suitable timing and modes of passage of water through the food product so as to obtain an extracted beverage with the optimal desired flavor .

[0009] Furthermore, it is extremely important to be able to create a capsule that allows an optimal extraction of the food substance to be obtained while maintaining a simple geometry from the manufacturing perspective, especially for capsules wherein the cup is made through a process of thermoforming, which, as is known, does not allow complex geometries to be achieved and often requires additional processing steps following thermoforming.

[0010] The object of the present invention is to make a capsule that overcomes the drawbacks mentioned above.

[0011] This object is obtained with a capsule and a method of manufacture in accordance with the accompanying independent claims; the claims dependent thereon describe preferred variant embodiments.

[0012] The features and advantages of the capsule and of the method according to the present invention will be apparent from the description given below, provided by way of non-limiting example, in accordance with the accompanying figures, wherein:

- Figure 1 shows an axonometric perspective view of a capsule according to the present invention;

Figure 2 shows an axonometric perspective view of the capsule according to the present invention, without a bottom cover;

- Figure 3 shows a plan view from above of the capsule of Figure 2;

- Figure 3a shows a sectional view of the capsule in Figure 3 along the sectional plane A-A, including the bottom cover and the dispensing cover;

- Figure 3b shows a sectional view of the capsule in Figure 3 along the sectional plane B-B, including the bottom cover and the dispensing cover;

- Figure 4 shows an enlarged detail of Figure 3b, without the bottom cover;

- Figure 5 shows a section of an enlarged detail of a variant embodiment of the capsule according to the present invention;

- Figure 6 shows a manufacturing step of the capsule according to a variant embodiment of the present invention, wherein the capsule is inserted between a punch and a punching head of a bottom wall of the cup for the creation of holes;

- Figure 7 shows an axonometric perspective view in partial section of a cup of a capsule according to a variant embodiment of the present invention;

- Figure 7a shows an enlargement of a detail of Figure 7 near the bottom wall;

Figure 8 shows a capsule manufacturing step according to a variant embodiment of the present invention, wherein the capsule is inserted between a punch and a cutting and folding head of a portion of the bottom wall of the cup for the creation of holes and respective cup fins.

[0013] With reference to the accompanying figures, a single-dose capsule of the type for the preparation of a beverage, for example coffee, infusion, decoction or the like, typically by means of extraction inside an extraction device, is indicated collectively at the reference number 10.

[0014] The capsule 10 comprises a hollow body called a cup 1, which contains therein an inner cavity 11 for the containment of at least one food substance to be infused or extracted by means of a liquid under pressure, such as coffee or tea, typically in granular or powder form.

[0015] The cup comprises a bottom wall 4, intended to be penetrated by a liquid injected by the extraction device, typically hot water or other liquid food (e.g. milk), and a front end 6, opposite the bottom wall 4, defining a dispensing opening 5, intended to be penetrated by the extracted beverage.

[0016] The cup 1 comprises a side wall 2, extending around a central axis X and in height along said central axis X between the bottom wall 4 and the front end 6.

[0017] The front end 6 comprises a collar 7, projecting radially outwardly from the side wall 2, typically arranged at the free end of the side wall 2, with a rear face 7a facing the bottom wall 4 and suitable to create a seal when the capsule 10 is inserted in the extraction device.

[0018] The bottom wall 4 comprises a recessed region 41 towards the inner cavity 3. In particular, the recessed region is accommodated at least partially or totally in the inner cavity 3 of the capsule.

[0019] The capsule 10 further comprises a pierceable or yielding bottom cover 9 which closes the recessed region 41 and a pierceable or yielding dispensing cover 8 which closes the dispensing opening 5.

[0020] The central axis X is perpendicular to this bottom cover 9.

[0021] Preferably, the central axis X coincides with the axis of symmetry of the cup 1 and extends in the dispensing direction of the beverage. For example, when the cup has the form of a solid of rotation, the central axis X is the rotation axis of the solid of rotation.

[0022] The recessed region 41 is defined by at least one first wall 420 and a second wall 430 facing each other and spaced along a radial direction Y perpendicular to the central axis X. This first wall 420 and this second wall 430 are joined by a connecting wall 410 that does not cross the central axis X. Moreover, defining an imaginary plane PI tangent to at least one portion of the first wall 420 and a second imaginary plane P2 tangent to at least one portion of the second wall 430, this first imaginary plane PI and this second imaginary plane P2 are inclined so as to intersect the central axis X.

[0023] Furthermore, on said first wall 420 and on the second wall 430 first wall holes 421 and second wall holes 431 are formed respectively for the passage of the liquid injected by the extraction device into the inner cavity 11 of the capsule 10.

[0024] It is clear that the term "holes" or "hole" means any type of opening, of any shape, for example also a gap, a cut, a notch, or in any case a perforation of any kind, suitable to allow the passage of the liquid injected into the inner cavity 11.

[0025] Preferably, the side wall 2 has on the outside a substantially frusto-conical shape, for example formed by the succession of frusto-conical surfaces having various angular openings .

[0026] According to a variant embodiment, the bottom cover 9 is a thin film, preferably a thin film of aluminum or a plastic material, for example, a multilayer plastic material. According to a further variant embodiment, the bottom cover is a wall yielding under the action of the dispensing nozzles of the extraction device so as to create passages for the water to the recessed region 41.

[0027] At the front end 6, the cup 1 comprises a collar 7, typically arranged at the free end of side wall 2, projecting radially outwardly.

[0028] The collar 7 has a front face 7b facing the opening 5 of the cup 1, opposite to the rear face 7a.

[0029] The front face 7b of the collar 7 is intended to be joined with the annular peripheral region of the dispensing cover 8 which closes the cup 1 at the front end 6.

[0030] The rear face 7a of the collar 7 is, on the other hand, intended to engage with an abutment edge of the infusion chamber of the extraction device.

[0031] In this regard, for the extraction of the beverage, the capsule 10 is inserted into the extraction device in an infusion chamber adapted to house therein at least part of the cup 1 of the capsule 10.

[0032] The infusion chamber is movable between an open position, which allows the insertion and removal of the capsule 10, and a closed position. When the infusion chamber is in the closed position, it forms a closed chamber around the capsule 10 when the pressurized water is fed into said capsule 10 (through the bottom 4 and the recessed region 41) to carry out the step of infusing and extracting the beverage.

[0033] The infusion chamber has at least one opening to allow the beverage to flow into the final container, for example a coffee cup.

[0034] The watertight seal in the infusion chamber is obtained on the collar 7 of the capsule 10 by a compression edge of the extraction device that rests in sealed abutment against the rear face 7a of the collar 7 of the capsule 10.

[0035] Due to the simultaneous presence of first wall holes

421 and second wall holes 431, an adequate distribution of the infusion liquid (water) is assured within the inner cavity 11, and thus through the food product contained.

[0036] A preferred variant embodiment of the cup 1 provides that, being defined as an imaginary horizontal plane P3 tangent to at least one portion of the connecting wall 410, this imaginary horizontal plane is perpendicular to the central axis X; moreover, in this connecting wall 410 there are holes formed at the bottom 411 for the passage of the liquid injected by the extraction device into the inner cavity 11. The additional presence of the bottom holes 411 further contributes to an improved diffusion of the infusion liquid in the inner cavity.

[0037] Preferably, the recessed region 41 is an annular groove, arranged annularly to the central axis X, as for example shown in Figures 1 to 8.

[0038] In this variant, this annular groove is at least partially or totally defined by the first wall 420 and by the second wall 430.

[0039] In one variant embodiment, for example shown in

Figures 2 to 4 and 6 to 8, the first wall 420 is an annular inclined flat wall so that an imaginary extension thereof forms an acute angle of intersection with a plane parallel to and passing through the central axis X. The second wall 430 is an annular inclined flat wall so that the angle of intersection a' , which an imaginary extension thereof forms with the plane parallel to and passing through the central axis X, is an obtuse angle. The angle of intersection a' is understood as measured in the same direction of measurement as the angle of intersection a.

[0040] The first wall 420 and the second wall 430 being flat walls, it is clear that the first imaginary plane PI and the second imaginary plane P2 lie respectively on the first wall 420 and on the second wall 430.

[0041] Preferably, "annular inclined flat wall" means not only flat walls, but also means that this inclined flat wall, in a sectional view thereof along a plane passing through the central axis X, is a straight segment. In other words, for example, in a preferred embodiment shown in Figures 2 to 4 and 7, 7a, the first wall 420 has a frusto-conical shape that develops around the central axis X and the second wall 430 has a frusto-conical shape that develops around the central axis X at a distance from the first wall 420 and preferably with inverted taper .

[0042] In a variant embodiment, for example shown in Figure 5, the first wall 420 and the second wall 430, while not being annular walls, are not flat walls, but rather are curved walls or are curved walls at times or flat at times. In this case, therefore, as is clarified in Figure 5, there will be at least one point or region of the first wall 420 or of the second wall 430, wherein the first imaginary plane PI or the second imaginary plane P2 will each be tangent to such point or region of the first wall 420 or the second wall 430. In this variant, therefore, the extension of the first imaginary plane PI forms an acute angle of intersection with a plane parallel to and passing through the central axis X, while the extension of the second imaginary plane P2 forms with the plane parallel to and passing through the central axis X an obtuse angle of intersection a' . As already mentioned, angle of intersection a' means measured in the same direction of measurement as the angle of intersection a.

[0043] In a preferred embodiment, the connecting wall 410 is a flat annular wall perpendicular to the central axis X and forming the bottom of the annular groove.

[0044] Preferably, each hole of the first wall holes 421 is arranged in front of a respective second wall hole 431, preferably in such a way that an imaginary plane P4 parallel to the central axis X and passing through the center of each first wall hole 421 and the center of a second wall hole 431 also passes through the central axis X, as, for example, shown in Figures 2 and 3.

[0045] With reference by way of example to Figure 3, in an advantageous variant embodiment, the first wall holes 421 are arranged along a first imaginary circumference C3 around the central axis X and are circumferentially equidistant from each other, and the second wall holes 431 are arranged along a second imaginary circumference Cl around the central axis X and are circumferentially equidistant from each other. In particular, preferably, the circumference Cl is spaced from and coaxial to the circumference C2 around the axis X.

[0046] Preferably, the bottom holes 411 are arranged interspersed with respect to the first wall holes 421 and the second wall holes 431. In other words, by drawing an imaginary line I joining the center of a first wall hole 421 and the center of a second wall hole 431, this imaginary line I does not intersect the center of a bottom hole 411 and, preferably, does not intersect the entire bottom hole 411, and even more preferably does not intersect any bottom hole 411.

[0047] In a variant embodiment, the bottom holes 411 are arranged along a third imaginary circumference C2, which is concentric and interposed between the first C3 and the second imaginary circumference Cl, as for example shown in Figure XX.

[0048] Preferably, the bottom holes 411 are circumferentially equidistant from each other by an angle at the center b equal to the angle at the center g of which the first wall holes 421 and/or the second wall holes 431 are circumferentially spaced from each other.

[0049] In one embodiment, all the first wall holes 421, the second wall holes 431 and the bottom holes 411 have a circular shape. This embodiment is preferred for cups 1 made by thermoforming.

[0050] In another variant embodiment, the holes on the first wall 421 and the holes on the second wall 431 have a square shape, while the holes on the bottom 411 have a circular shape. This embodiment is preferred for cups 1 made by injection molding.

[0051] A particularly advantageous variant embodiment provides that the cup 1 comprises at least six bottom holes 411, at least six first wall holes 421 and at least six second wall holes 431.

[0052] A further variant embodiment of the capsule 10 comprises at least one fin 50, 51 near at least one first wall hole 421 and/or at least one second wall hole 431.

[0053] In particular, from an edge 421', 431' of at least one first wall hole 421 and/or at least one second wall hole 431, a fin 50, 51 protrudes towards the inside of the inner cavity 11.

[0054] This fin is made by folding along the edge 421', 431' of the first wall hole 421 and/or the second wall hole 431. In other words, the edge 421', 431' is the only anchoring region of the fin 50, 51 to the first wall 420 or to the second wall 430.

[0055] In particular, since the fin is obtained by partial cutting of the first wall 420 or the second wall 430, this fin 50, 51 has a shape complementary to the shape of the first wall hole 421 or of the second wall hole 431.

[0056] Preferably, the fin 50, 51 is inclined at an angle between 80 and 100° with respect to the first imaginary plane PI if it projects from the first wall 420 or to the second imaginary plane P2 if it projects from the second wall 430.

[0057] In one embodiment the cup 1 is obtained by thermoforming starting from a multilayer sheet comprising an inner barrier-like layer arranged between two outer layers .

[0058] Preferably, the multilayer sheet is of the PP/EVOH/PP type, i.e., the barrier layer is made of ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH) material arranged between two outer layers of polypropylene (PP) .

[0059] It is likewise the subject-matter of the present invention a method of manufacturing a cup 1 of a capsule 10 described in the present document, for example as shown in Figures 6 and 8.

[0060] The method comprises the steps of:

- molding a cup 1 made of plastic material in one piece, preferably by thermoforming, as described in the preceding paragraphs,

- inserting the cup 1 into a cutting or punching machine comprising a punch 100 resting on the bottom wall 4 on the side of the inner cavity 11 of the cup 1;

- by means of a cutting or punching head 101, cutting or punching, preferably simultaneously, the first wall 420 and the second wall 431 to create first wall holes 421 on said first wall 420 and second wall holes 431 on said second wall 430.

[0061] In a variant embodiment, in the step of cutting or punching the first wall 420 and the second wall 431 a portion of said first wall 421 and/or of said second wall 431 is folded in a manner that at least one fin 50, 51 protrudes from said first 420 and/or second wall 430 towards the inner cavity 11.

[0062] This is achieved by a cutting head comprising cutting or punching elements 101', 101 suitable for cutting the first or second wall 420, 430 to create the first or second wall holes 421, 431 and at the same time folding a portion of this first or second wall towards the inside of the cup 1 in the inner cavity 11 and obtaining the fin 50, 51.

[0063] In particular, each cutting or punching element 101' , 101' ' , comprises an inclined wall 101b, lying on an inclined plane intersecting the central axis X of the cup 1, so that this inclined wall 101b, in its movement of approaching and crossing the bottom wall 4 of the cup 1, folds a portion of the first 420 or the second wall 430 of the cup so as to create the fin 50, 51 and guide it towards the final position of inclination.

[0064] Moreover, each cutting or punching element 101',

101'', preferably also comprises at least one vertical wall, substantially parallel to the central axis X of the cup, joined to the inclined wall 101b, so as to form a tip in the joint region suitable to cut the first 420 or the second wall 430 to make the first wall hole 421 or the second wall hole 431.

[0065] Preferably, whether a first wall hole 421 or a second wall hole 431 is made provided with a fin 50,51 or without a fin 50, 51, i.e. a simple through hole, in the cutting or punching step, the cutting elements 101', 101'', in their movement through the bottom wall 4 of the cup 1, are each accommodated at least partially in a punch seat 100a, 100b, 100c, obtained in the punch 100.

In this way, one ensures that the punch performs its function of supporting the bottom wall 4 of the cup during punching adequately while at the same time ensuring an adequate stroke of the cutting and punching elements within the cup.

[0066] Preferably, the cup 1 of the capsule 10 is obtained by thermoforming. In particular, the cup is made from a multilayer sheet comprising an inner barrier-type layer. Preferably, this barrier layer is fully wrapped within the adjacent layers of the multilayer sheet. In other words, the inner barrier-like layer never comes in contact with the outside.

[0067] Preferably, the inner layer is an oxygen barrier layer and is made of ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH) material .

[0068] For example, the multilayer sheet is of the PP/EVOH/PP type wherein polypropylene (PP) forms the outer layers of the sheet, i.e. the layers that wrap around and contain the inner barrier layer.

[0069] In a further example embodiment, at least one outer layer of the multilayer sheet is made of polyethylene (PE) , and this layer forms the rear face 7a of the collar 7, which is intended to engage with an abutment edge of the infusion chamber of the extraction device.

Advantageously, this technical solution improves the seal of the collar 7.

[0070] For example, the multilayer sheet is of the PP/EVOH/PP/PE type.

[0071] In a variant embodiment, the cup is obtained by injection molding of a plastic material, for example made of PBT .

[0072] Innovatively, the capsule according to the present invention overcomes the drawbacks mentioned with reference to the prior art, as it allows one to create a capsule that, due to the presence of holes arranged on both the first wall 420 and the second wall 430, allows the infusion water to be distributed in an optimal way in the food product to be infused and thus allows a beverage to be obtained with improved flavor with respect to the capsules of the prior art without this solution.

[0073] In particular, surprisingly, comparative taste tests conducted with respect to capsules of the prior art for making espresso coffee have shown that a capsule having holes arranged on both the first 420 and the second inclined wall 430, allows an improved quality and persistence of the flavor to be obtained, especially for the variant embodiments comprising also the bottom holes 411.

[0074] Moreover, in an innovative and advantageous way, the solution according to the present invention maintains a constructive geometry that is easy to obtain. In effect, the plurality of holes obtained directly on the cup with the surprising effect of improved the quality of the extracted beverage, especially with regards to coffee, does not require additional components to the cup (such as filters or micro-perforated shower elements) and does not require special measures during the molding step of the cup.

[0075] Advantageously, therefore, the capsule according to the present invention may be used in different types of extraction machines ensuring an improved quality of the extracted beverage, regardless of the type of extraction machine .

[0076] Advantageously, the capsule according to the present invention is easily obtainable through a thermoforming process .

[0077] Furthermore, in an advantageous way a variant embodiment provides for the presence of fins able to direct at will, according to the inclination of the fin, the flow of liquid within the cavity inside the cup and further improve the diffusion of the liquid. This variant is also simple to implement and does not require additional components to the cup or additional material. Furthermore, in an advantageous way, the fins are made in the same step as making the holes, thus allowing an improved production efficiency of the single capsule in terms of production time.

[0078] A person skilled in the art, in order to meet contingent needs, may make changes to the capsule described above, all contained within the scope of protection as defined by the following claims.