Coffee equipment maker Acaia has unveiled the Ion Beam, a device for neutralizing the static charge of ground coffee exiting a grinder.
The Ion Beam will launch for sale following its public debut at Acaia’s booth (#909) at the 2023 SCA Expo taking April 21-23 at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland.
Acaia will also use the show to debut the Orion Nano, the a smaller version of the brand’s whole-bean dosing machine.
(See DCN’s complete Expo coverage here.)
Acaia Ion Beam
The Ion Beam is an ion generator that produces negative ions from its front end and positive ions from the back. The purpose is to minimize static electricity in coffee grounds that have built up either a positive or negative charge during grinding, depending on factors such as the coffee’s roast level, the style of grinder and atmospheric conditions.
Constructed out of aluminum and polycarbonate, the Ion Beam can mount directly onto the side of the company’s Orbit coffee grinder to direct ions to the outbound path of ground coffee.
“In our own testing, the majority of coffee grounds are positively charged. Therefore, the front of the Ion Beam generates negative ions to neutralize the charged coffee particles while coffee grounds are exiting the chute,” Acaia Co-Founder Rex Tseng recently told Daily Coffee News. “In the case of dark-roasted coffee or other negatively charged coffee grounds, turn it around so the back end of the Ion Beam can neutralize it with positive ions.”
The Ion Beam may also be used with other grinders through the use of a tripod, with ideal positioning being 1-3 centimeters from the grinder chute.
“It works best while shooting the ions from slightly above the exiting path for the Orbit,” said Tseng. “You might want to experiment a bit with your own grinders.”
Static electricity has forever been a foe to grinder manufacturers, as static is naturally generated whenever due to the friction between roasted coffee beans, burrs and other grinder components. As electrons are transferred from one surface to another through friction, the resultant charge imbalance causes the coffee and the machine to behave like opposite magnets, repelling one another.
What can result is lightweight coffee particles clinging or fleeing wildly as they exit the grinder, making a mess on the counter and clumping in the receptacle. The Ion Beam is designed to mitigate that charge for a more tidy, clump-free bed of coffee for portafilters or other receptacles.
“Using ions to remove static is used in many fields, including our own production lines,” said Tseng. “It’s not a new technology but we’ve optimized it for coffee preparation. Making it available for more users to utilize it to improve their grinding experience is why we brought this product to life.”
The Ross Droplet Technique (RDT) of adding a tiny bit of water to whole beans prior to grinding is another popular method for diminishing the inevitable static electricity. Tseng said RDT remains beneficial in conjunction with the Ion Beam.
“[The Ion Beam] won’t completely eliminate the need of RDT for the people who strive for the perfect distribution in their puck, but it certainly helps a lot,” said Tseng. “It makes the coffee fluffier and easier to break the remaining clumps.”
Following its appearance at Acaia’s booth (#909) at the SCA Expo later this month, the Ion Beam will be for sale for $150.
Also at booth 909 the company will offer a “first look” at the upcoming Acaia Orion Nano, an automatic whole-bean dosing machine that occupies two-thirds of the footprint of the original Orion Bean Doser, according to the company.
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Howard Bryman is the associate editor of Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine. He is based in Portland, Oregon.