C &EN PUBLISHED two very interesting items concerning freeze-dried coffee (Sept. 29, 2008, page 42; Nov. 3, 2008, page 4). I’d like to provide additional information that should be of interest because it places the development of the high-vacuum freeze-drying of coffee back to 1945–54 by the National Research Corp. (NRC).
Richard Morse founded NRC as a process development company for exploiting high-vacuum technology. Initially located in Boston, the company was later relocated to nearby Cambridge, Mass. During the war, NRC developed high-vacuum dehydration processes to produce penicillin, blood plasma, and streptomycin for the war effort.
In 1945, NRC formed Florida Foods Corp., which used the high-vacuum dehydration process to develop concentrated orange juice powder for the Army. Florida Foods later changed its name to Minute Maid. However, the concentrated orange juice powder was not considered a suitable commercial product, and the process was modified to produce frozen orange juice concentrate, which was marketed under the Minute Maid name.
The high-vacuum freeze-drying process was also adapted to freeze-drying of coffee for an instant-coffee product application, and a number of patents were issued for development of the process. A coffee pilot plant was installed in Cambridge by 1949 under the supervision of Edward Hellier. By 1951, the high-vacuum freeze-dried coffee process was well developed. Hellier formed and headed Holiday Brands to manufacture the vacuum freeze-dried coffee. This was marketed as Holiday Brand Coffee, but it did not become a national brand, and the company was later acquired by Minute Maid.
Charles A. Baer