From Coffee Concentrate to Freeze-Dried Elixir: Freeze Drying Coffee


Coffee, the beloved beverage that fuels our mornings and punctuates our days, has a rich history marked by innovation. Among the milestones in its evolution is the development of coffee concentrate, a precursor to the globally popular freeze-dried coffee we enjoy today. Let’s explore the fascinating journey of how coffee concentrate evolved into the convenient and flavorful freeze-dried coffee we know and love.

The Genesis: John Dring’s Coffee Compound (1771)

In 1771, English inventor John Dring was awarded a British patent for his “coffee compound.” This early innovation involved a dried, brewed coffee pressed into a cake form, representing an early attempt at creating a concentrated coffee product. While Dring’s invention hinted at the potential for convenience and portability in coffee consumption, it faced challenges due to rapid spoilage, preventing its widespread adoption as a retail product.

Nestlé’s Innovations: The Rise of Soluble Coffee

In 1929, Louis Dapples, then Chairman of Nestlé, was presented with an intriguing challenge from his former employer, the Banque Française et Italienne pour l’Amérique du Sud. Following the aftermath of the Wall Street Crash and the subsequent plummet in coffee prices, the bank found itself grappling with surplus coffee stocks stored in Brazilian warehouses. Turning to Nestlé for a solution, they proposed the idea of transforming these surplus stocks into a new consumer product—a ‘soluble coffee cube.’

To address this challenge, Nestlé engaged the expertise of Dr. Max Morgenthaler, a chemist brought in to assist the company’s researchers in finding a viable solution.

On April 1, 1938, the soluble coffee product, later named Nescafé, made its debut in Switzerland. Nestlé established a large-scale production line for coffee extraction and ‘spray drying’ coffee beans, leading to the production of Nescafé at its factory in the Swiss town of Orbe. By 1940, Nescafé was available in 30 countries.

In 1965, Nescafé took another leap forward with the launch of its freeze-dried coffee, Nescafé Gold Blend.

The Dominance of Spray Drying Coffee

Despite the early experimentation with coffee concentrate, it was spray drying that became the dominant method of coffee production for much of the 20th century. Spray drying involves atomizing liquid coffee into fine droplets and rapidly drying them with hot air, resulting in powdered coffee that is convenient for packaging and storage. While effective, this process often led to flavor degradation and aroma loss due to the high temperatures involved.

The Advantages of Freeze-Dried Coffee

Compared to spray drying, freeze-dried coffee offers several advantages:

Enhanced Flavour and Aroma: Freeze drying preserves the natural flavour compounds and aroma of coffee beans, resulting in a more authentic and enjoyable coffee experience.

Improved Solubility: Freeze-dried coffee dissolves readily in water, ensuring a consistent and flavourful cup with every brew.

Extended Shelf Life: The low moisture content of freeze-dried coffee enhances its shelf life, allowing for prolonged storage without compromising quality.

Convenience: Brewing freeze-dried coffee is simple and convenient, requiring only hot water for a perfect cup every time.


From the early experiments with coffee concentrate by John Dring to Nestlé’s groundbreaking innovations in freeze-dried coffee, the story of coffee’s evolution is one of relentless innovation and dedication to excellence. Freeze-dried coffee, with its preserved flavours, enhanced solubility, extended shelf life, and unmatched convenience, has revolutionized how we enjoy our beloved brew. But the journey doesn’t end there. With advancements in technology, such as the CryoDry® CD8 Freeze Dryer, the power to create your own freeze-dried coffee at home is now within reach.

Imagine being able to customize your coffee blends, preserve the freshness of your favourite beans, and enjoy a perfect cup every time, all from the comfort of your own kitchen. In our next post, we’ll delve deeper into how the CryoDry® CD8 Freeze Dryer can revolutionize your coffee experience and empower you to embark on your own coffee adventure. Stay tuned and get ready to elevate your coffee game to new heights!