Cracking the nut: TN innovator designs coffee extractor
Cracking a coffee bean to extract coffee is tricky business. Traditionally grindstones were used for the job. This made the process unhygienic and often resulted in wastage.
Now a simple technology is set to change it all. It is designed by Sudhakar, a lathe workshop owner in the Theni district of Tamil Nadu.
The coffee nutcracker is a modification of an earlier wooden version developed by Sudhakar's father, a carpenter.
Whilst in school, Sudhakar used to help his father repair agricultural implements and that is how the idea of a coffee pulper germinated in his mind.
This simple coffee pulper is a manual device and can be operated just by turning a rod.
Coffee beans are dropped into the device from the top and come out peeled and segregated. The round disc has slots which are the size of coffee berries.
Reduces labour costs
Moving the handles on either side rotates the wheel. The pulp on the berries is separated by the rotating action of the wheels and nor is it damaged by the rotating wheels.
The coffee beans come out through another pipe and are collected. Simple, efficient and quick. The innovation also helps reduce labour costs and the wastage.
"This separates the bean and the skin and there is no wastage at all. In other methods, a lot will go as waste. This preserves the quality as well.
"One can separate the peel and the coffee bean and the bean dries faster. Earlier it used to take up to twenty days," said Sudhakar.
In a nutshell, Sudhakar's invention does the work in just one hour what earlier ten people would do in an entire day.
Priced between Rs 1200 and 6500, so far he has supplied around sixty machines to coffee growers in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
The National Innovation Foundation - an organisation that scouts for innovators like Sudhakar all over the country - also awarded him a consolation prize of Rs 1000 in 2003.
But Sudhakar's hunt for financial assistance continues. He is now making a few changes to this machine, hoping that a more modified version will catch the attention of more people.
"I've got to innovate something else too. And there is so much of scope to develop this. The disc needs to be improved," said Sudhakar.
Here's hoping that ideas keep brewing in the mind of this innovator!