Instant coffee king shows off what’s brewing

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Instant coffee king shows off what’s brewing

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Employees confer at the Dongsuh Food production plant in Bupyeong, Incheon. The coffee maker has a market share of nearly 80 percent in Korea, but competition has been increasing. Provided by the company

In the minus 30 degree Celsius (minus 22 Fahrenheit) chamber on the sixth floor of Dongsuh Food’s production plant in Bupyeong, Incheon, the air was heavy with the aroma of coffee.

Dark chocolate coffee concentrate - roasted beans diluted with water - constantly flowed out of an extractor.

“Here, gas is injected to the concentrate to make it an icy slush. The slushy concentrate then moves by conveyor belt to that freezing chamber next door under minus 50 degrees Celsius to naturally freeze on the way,” a Dongsuh guide said yesterday.

“During the process, the ice evaporates, and the moisture content is slashed from 50 percent to 3 percent, and the concentrate becomes a solid powder. The coffee powder is then mixed with cream powder and sugar and packaged as instant coffee.”

Although the factory structure, which was built in 1968 as the country’s first coffee production facility, seemed old, the interior has been continuously updated and the production process modernized with automated equipment.

The third floor of the plant contains the packaging equipment for its flagship instant coffee, Maxim Mocha Gold Mild, and 16 machines each pour out 400 packets a minute.

Though Dongsuh Food dominates the instant coffee market with a 79.9 percent share, competition has increased with the growth of Namyang Dairy and Lotte Chilsung.

Accordingly, Lee Chang-hwan, CEO of Dongsuh, held a press conference at the Bupyeong plant Thursday to talk about the company’s ambition to upgrade existing products, a process it calls “restaging” that occurs every four years.

The nation’s largest coffee maker said it will boost the quality of its flagship Maxim instant coffee brand, redesigning the coffee products, adding new technologies and increasing the use of high-quality Arabica beans from 70 percent to 80 percent, said Kim Gwang-soo, marketing director of Dongsuh Food.

“Through the fifth restage of improving the coffee quality by adding innovative new technologies to Maxim and increasing the use of Arabica beans, we will solidify our values as the nation’s instant coffee brand and provide better quality and values to consumers,” said the CEO.

The new technology includes a refined aroma process in the low-temperature extraction from the roasted coffee beans and Advanced Prime Extraction method, which extracts fine ground particles of coffee beans under low temperatures in the shortest time.

It plans to release the new products in mid-October with new advertisements and promotions.

Dongsuh says the size of the Korean coffee market is expected to grow 1.2 percent and projects the instant coffee market will grow 0.11 percent this year. However, it estimated that soluble coffee, mostly consumed by households, would reduce significantly by more than 10 percent.

“As the coffee market is recording slow growth recently, we decided that we should constantly provide better products to consumers,” said Lee.

“We plan to continue upgrading the quality of our products at least once every four years.”

BY KIM JUNG-YOON [kjy@joongang.co.kr]

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