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Why Densification Is a Must in Coffee Capsule and Pod Manufacturing

Not all coffee capsules are created the same. Good coffee capsule and pod production requires more than just roasting, grinding, and packing coffee into pods and capsules. It also requires an extra step to make sure the density of the ground coffee is optimal for capsule and pod brewing. This process is called densification, which occurs immediately after grinding. To understand how densification works and its role, we must look at the following:

  1. The coffee particles’ shapes when they exit the grinder and how to optimize their shapes for greater density.
  2. The use of water pressure in capsule and pod coffee makers and how densification acts like tamping to create better extraction.

Coffee Particles' Shapes as They Leave the Grinder

Coffee particles are not smooth and spherical when they exit the grinder; instead they are jagged and non-spherical. The non-spherical coffee particles tend to use up more space than necessary to fill each capsule—creating empty space which should contain coffee particles. This results in a below-optimal capsule density and leads to a less flavorful, under-extracted cup of coffee during brewing.

electron microscope image of ground coffee

This electron microscope image of granulized coffee at 250 micron target size shows undesirable oblong shaped particles.

All MPE industrial coffee granulizers (with the exception of our UPD models) have densifiers located under the roll sections. Inside the densifiers the coffee particles are literally rounded out, sometimes even having many smaller fines clustering together to form larger sized particles. On a microscopic scale this means considerably more total dissolvable solids can fit into the same amount of space.

65 particles example

An illustrated example of densification (each box has 65 particles), which rounds out jagged coffee particles so that more coffee can fit in the same space

Coffee granulizer densifier
Here the densifer is highlighted to show where it is in relation to the grinding rolls.

The Densifier Acts like a Giant Tamper

Densification is not a new concept. Tamping an espresso is basically a form of densification. In the case of tamping, it not only serves to fit more coffee (and dissolvable solids) into the espresso machine portafilter, but also provides the resistance needed for the water pressure to forcefully extract the flavor and oils trapped inside the coffee particles.

Like a tamped espresso portafilter, densified coffee in pods and capsules allows the coffee maker to create a slightly pressurize environment necessary to extract the dissolvable solids trapped inside the coffee. This results in a more flavorful cup of coffee.

The Possibilities are Limitless

MPE has led the coffee capsule and pod industry since its inception. Unsurprisingly, we've engineered many proprietary designs, including our patented Vortex design (found on our Vortex IMD 999), that aim to serve very individualized needs. Talking with an MPE sales engineer is the next step in learning more about the many types of densifiers we make and options we offer. In the end, the most important thing is providing our customers the best possible grinding solutions for your business. Better grinding means better tasting coffee, and better coffee means happier customers.

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