US006672200B2
(12) United States Patent
(10) Patent N0.:
Dulfy et al.
(54)
(45) Date of Patent:
SYSTEM FOR MONITORING AND
CONTROLLING THE OPERATION OF A
SINGLE SERVE BEVERAGE BREWER
5,111,740 A
6,082,247 A
6,142,063 A
(75) Inventors: Brendan J. Du?'y, Georgetown, MA
(US); Karl T. Winlder, Bedford, MA
(US); David G. Honan, Concord, MA
(US); Jon Taylor, Groton, MA (US);
Peter L. Stokes, Boston, MA (US)
(73) Assignee: Keurig, Inc., Wake?eld, MA (US)
(*)
Notice:
US 6,672,200 B2
Subject to any disclaimer, the term of this
Pawnt is extended or adjusted under 35
U-S-C- 154(k)) by 78 days-
Jan. 6, 2004
5/1992 Klein ........................ .. 99/295
7/2000 Beaulicu ................. .. 99/302 R
11/2000 Beaulieu et a1. ............ .. 99/283
Primary Examiner—Reginald L. Alexander
(74) Attorney, Agent, or Firm—Samuels, Gauthier &
Stevens
( )
57
ABSTRACT
An automated beverage brewing system includes a liquid
storage tank and a metering chamber. The metering chamber
is at least partially submerged beneath a standing level of
liquid in the storage tank. The chamber includes a sealable
liquid inlet port communicating With the interior of the
(21) APPL N05 10/125,058
storage tank beneath the standing level of liquid. The
(22)
chamber also includes a liquid outlet port and an aperture
Filed;
Apt; 18, 2002
_
(65)
_
_
that receives compressed air, Wherein the compressed air
Pnor Pubhcatlon Data
forces liquid from the liquid output port of the chamber for
US 2002/0152895 A1 Oct. 24, 2002
_
use in preparing a breWed beverage. A pump provides the
_
compressed air and a controller monitors a pressure signal
(60)
_ _ Related U-_S- Apphcatlon Data
gggilslonal apphcanon NO‘ 6O/284’454’ ?led on Apr‘ 18’
value indicative of the air pressure in the metering chamber.
The controller commands the pump on to commence How of
(51)
' 7
Int. Cl. ............................................... .. A47J 31/32
liquid from the metering chamber. The controller then
Commands the pump Off Several Seconds after detecting a
US. Cl. ....................... .. 99/283; 99/302 R; 99/305;
_
99/295; 222/394; 222/438; 222/1465
drop in air pressure Within the Chamber_ Abaf?e is af?xed to
the distal end of a shaft, Which is moved betWeen a ?rst and
(52)
Fleld Of Search .................... ..
R,
second position' In the Second position the ba?ie Seals a
99/305, 295, 307, 280; 222/394, 405, 146.5,
438, 636; 137/206, 209
section
of the storage tank to form the metering
chamber.
.
The system may also include a second breW pump that
alloWs a user to customiZe the quantity of liquid delivered
(56)
References Cited
from the breWing system for a stronger breWed beverage.
U.S. PATENT DOCUMENTS
3,085,495 A
4/1963 Rosander ................... .. 99/283
21 Claims, 12 Drawing Sheets
Indicator lights
Red-Wait
Green-Ready /
20°
/232
361
40
////
i
‘
Tolerance Spring
.
<):(>
,e.f—f“w |‘
I/
“
4'2
22+: —
|=; :3;
=
Optical Sensors
Full
4
Service Indicator
Lights
*
U.S. Patent
Jan. 6, 2004
Sheet 2 0f 12
US 6,672,200 B2
.GE0N
.9“mu
U.S. Patent
Jan. 6, 2004
l
102a \
Start
US 6,672,200 B2
Sheet 4 0f 12
)
Brewer is turned
On
Red light on
Blue light ?ashing
®__
Water Column
1 02b
sensors detect the
presents of water
in the brewer
is
there
water in the
No
breii’ner
Yes
Blue light on
Heating)
Maintaining the
water at
195 deg. c
Red light off
~ 102a
Ready to brew
1
Green light on N 1020
w
Drawer open
Green light off
Mom is inserted
into brewer
W
Flashing green
Bladder in?ates:
Once bladder is
fully in?ated air
displace water in
the meter cup area.
Pump on
Heaters oil
Green light off
i
Pressure sensor or
timed out
Bladder deflates
i
Heater on
6) FIG. 4
U.S. Patent
Jan. 6, 2004
Sheet 5 0f 12
US 6,672,200 B2
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U.S. Patent
Jan. 6, 2004
Sheet 6 0f 12
US 6,672,200 B2
/266
SPEAKER ~--—-----
212
CONTROL
PANEL
*
215
/
LIGHTS
PRESSURE
R
61
G2
SENSOR
214
PCB LIGHTS
R
zoi
230
Y
BLADDER
PUMP
/
DRAWER
/
SWlTCH
_
a2
"'
_
OPTlCAL
CONTROLLER
20¢
94
BREW PuMP
SENSOR 1
_
84
l
I
OPTICAL /
240 X
SENSOR 2
21c
244
M
83$,T13M:
COMPARATOR
LOG1c
78\ wATER
(
96
TEMPERATURE /
SENSOR
L 241 239
COLUMN
'4 234
LIGHT
C
BREW
BUTTON
PURGE
‘
/
vALvE
261
/
232
FIG. 6
U.S. Patent
Jan. 6, 2004
Sheet 7 0f 12
US 6,672,200 B2
700
/
705
FLASH THE WATER
COLUMN LIGHT
WATER HOT
ENOUGH FOR
BREWING?
TLLUMINATE A
STATUS LIGHT
710
HAS THE CARTRlDGE
DRAWER BEEN
CLOSED 01 THE
712
LAST 30 SEG?
j
Y
TLLUMINATE A
714
- HEATER OFF
STATUS LIGHT
-—-—----
- CLOSE PURGE VALVE
. BLADDER PUMP 0N
FIG. 7A
('3)
U.S. Patent
Jan. 6, 2004
Sheet 8 0f 12
US 6,672,200 B2
@
DELAY
f 716
I
BREW PUMP ON
~ 718
———-—---———>
v
722
IS THE PRESSURE IN THE
METERlNG CHAMBER T00 HIGH OR
Y
HAs THE BREW PUMP BEEN ON
724
FOR TOO LONG?
!
N
PUMPS OFF
SEE F‘G- 8
800
PURGE vALvE OPEN
'
HAs THE PRESSURE IN
N
725
METERING CHAMBER FALLEN
725
BELOW A THRESHOLD
7
VALUE‘
HAs AN OVER
IY
PRESSURE OCCURRED
DURING TWO
CONSECUTIVE
DELAY TWO SECONDS m 728
BREWS?
1
PUMPS OFF
Y
m 730
- ILLUMINATE A
STATUS LIGHT
- SYSTEM OFF
PURGE vALvE OPEN f 732
FIG. 7B
\
727
U.S. Patent
Jan. 6, 2004
Sheet 9 0f 12
802
BREW PUMP ON?
Iv
BREW INTERRUPT
REQUESTED?
4Y1
N
Y
L
- BREW lNTERRUPT
PUMP ON
0 BREW PUMP OFF
@
FIG. 8
US 6,672,200 B2
U.S. Patent
Jan. 6, 2004
Sheet 10 0f 12
US 6,672,200 B2
902
HEATER ON
FOR TOO LONG
0R
OFF FOR
TOO LONG?
Y
I
/
HEATER OFF
N
f 904
1
- INDICATE FAULT!
ALARM CONDITION N 906
- SYSTEM OFF
1
908
Is THE
PRESSURE IN THE
\<Y
METERING CHAMBER
TOO HIGH?
N
ALL PUMPS OFF
/ 91o
PURGE vALvE OPEN
- INDICATE FAULT!
ALARM CONDITION N 912
- SYSTEM OFF
@ A69
U.S. Patent
Jan. 6, 2004
US 6,672,200 B2
Sheet 11 0f 12
1 002
BREW PUMP ON?
N
1003
WATER LEVEL
ABOVE MIN
THRESHOLD?
Y
1004
WATER TEMP
ABOVE MAX?
1006
S
HEATER OFF
1 008
WATER TEMP
BELOW MIN?
N
1010
I
HEATER ON
OPERATE HEATER
ON/OFF AT 50%
DUTY CYCLE
FIG. 10
/
U.S. Patent
Jan. 6, 2004
Sheet 12 0f 12
US 6,672,200 B2
/11OO
1 102
WATER LEVEL
T00 mam
L
AUDIO AND
1104
VISUAL ALARM
/
1106
WATER LEVEL
TOO LOW?
1 108
.
/
FLASH THE WATER
COLUMN LIGHT
US 6,672,200 B2
1
2
SYSTEM FOR MONITORING AND
CONTROLLING THE OPERATION OF A
SINGLE SERVE BEVERAGE BREWER
alloWs a user to control the strength of their breWed beverage
by using less Water than the nominal amount dispensed by
the breWer When the breW interrupt bottom is not depressed
during a breW cycle.
These and other objects, features and advantages of the
present invention Will become apparent in light of the
PRIORITY INFORMATION
This application claims priority from a provisional appli
cation ?led Apr. 18, 2001 designated Ser. No. 60/284,454
entitled “System for Monitoring and Controlling the Opera
tion of a Single Serve Beverage BreWer”. This application is
incorporated herein by reference.
folloWing detailed description of preferred embodiments
thereof, as illustrated in the accompanying draWings.
10
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 is a vertical sectional vieW taken through a single
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
This invention relates generally to beverage dispensing
and breWing systems, and in particular With a system for
monitoring and controlling a beverage breWer.
Many different coffee breWing systems have been
serve beverage breWer;
FIGS. 2A—2C are enlarged vieWs shoWing the illuminated
15
FIG. 3 is a control schematic;
FIG. 4 is a How chart generally depicting the sequential
steps in a breW cycle;
designed. Most utiliZe a pump, such as a peristaltic pump, to
transfer Water from a reservoir through a conduit to a
FIG. 5 is a vertical sectional vieW taken through an
breWing chamber. The pump is turned on at the beginning of
a breWing cycle and at the end of a speci?c time period the
pump is turned off. Other breWing systems use an electri
alternative embodiment single serve beverage breWer;
FIG. 6 is a block diagram illustration of the control system
associated With the breWer illustrated in FIG. 5;
FIGS. 7A and 7B are How charts that together illustrate
cally controlled device to open a valve at the bottom of a
reservoir. Through gravity the Water travels through a con
duit to a breWing chamber. Again at the end of a speci?c time
liquid level indicator;
25
steps performed by the controller of FIG. 6;
FIG. 8 is a How chart illustration of steps performed by the
period, the valve is closed. These prior breWing systems lack
the capability of consistently dispensing equal volumes of
controller of FIG. 6 to control a interrupt breW pump
illustrated in FIG. 5; and
liquid. The systems are dependent on the accuracy of the
timers, the pressure of the liquid, etc.
Therefore, there is a need for an automated beverage
FIG. 9 is a How chart illustration of a built-in-test (BIT)
routine performed by the controller of FIG. 6 to detect faults
in the breWer illustrated in FIG. 5;
breWing system for dispensing a predetermined volume of
liquid from a storage tank.
FIG. 10 is a How chart illustration of a routine for
controlling the liquid heater; and
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
35
Brie?y, according to an aspect of the present invention, a
beverage breWing system uses compressed air to drive liquid
FIG. 11 is a How chart illustration of a routine for
monitoring the liquid level Within the storage tank of the
breWer illustrated in FIG. 5.
from a metering chamber for use in preparing a breWed
beverage.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE
INVENTION
An automated beverage breWing system receives a car
tridge containing a beverage eXtract and establishes a liquid
The present invention is specially adapted for use in,
although not limited in application to, a breWing system 10
illustrated in FIG. 1. Here, the dispensed liquid is Water that
?oW path through the cartridge to provide a breWed bever
age. The system includes a holder that holds and pierces the
cartridge to provide a cartridge inlet and a cartridge outlet
that together establish a How path through the beverage
eXtract to provide the breWed beverage. A storage tank
comprising a supply of liquid and having a reduced diameter
is heated to a predetermined elevated temperature to breW
45
cartridges.
cup-shaped bottom is in ?uid communication With the
cartridge via a chamber outlet port. Aportion of the storage
tank is controllably sealed to form a metering chamber in
cooperation With the reduced diameter cup-shaped bottom.
A?rst pump provides compressed air along a How line to the
metering chamber to force liquid from the metering chamber
and through the chamber outlet port. A sensor senses pres
sure in the How line and provides a sensed pressure signal
indicative thereof. A controller commands the ?rst pump on,
monitors the sensed pressure signal and turns the ?rst pump
off after detecting that the sensed pressure signal value has
dropped beloW a threshold value indicating the predeter
mined volume of liquid has been delivered through the
chamber outlet port.
The system may also include a second air pump that
delivers a second How of compressed air doWnstream of the
metering chamber outlet port and upstream of the cartridge
inlet in response to a breW interrupt signal received by the
controller to drive the liquid doWnstream of the metering
chamber outlet port to the cartridge. Advantageously, this
beverages from extracts (e.g., coffee, tea, poWders and
concentrates) contained in disposable hermetically sealed
With reference initially to FIG. 1, a single serve breWer 10
includes a housing 12 containing a liquid storage tank 14.
The tank has a loWer metering chamber 16 formed by a
reduced diameter cup-shaped bottom 18 integrally joined to
55
the larger diameter tank side Wall at a circular sealing
surface de?ning a seat 20. Water can be poured into the
storage tank 14 via an inlet 17.
A ?Xed internal structure includes a horiZontal platform
22 and struts 24 supporting a vertically disposed sleeve
bearing 26 aligned centrally With respect to the tank 14 and
its cup-shaped bottom 18.
Avertically reciprocal shaft 28 eXtends through the sleeve
bearing 26. The shaft carries a generally conically shaped
baffle 70 at its loWer end, and a circular plate 32 disposed
beneath the platform 22. A resilient and compressible cir
cular gasket 33 on the loWer surface of the baffle overlies the
65 seat 20.
An arm 34 is pivotally mounted on a bracket 36 carried by
the platform 22. The arm 34 is connected to the shaft 28 by
US 6,672,200 B2
3
4
a pin 38. Acoiled spring 40 surrounds the pin 38 between the
96 to determine if the liquid in the metering chamber 16 has
been heated to the desired breW temperature. A “No” deter
arm 34 and the upper surface of platform 22, and an
in?atable bladder 42 is positioned betWeen the bottom
surface of the platform 22 and the plate 32.
mination recycles the sequence, and a “Yes” determination
extinguishes the red light 102a and illuminates the green
light 102b, indicating that the breWer is ready to perform a
The distal end of the arm 34 extends into a breWing
chamber 44 designed to accept a single serve beverage ?lter
breW cycle.
cartridge 46 of the type for example described in co-pending
patent application Ser. No. 09/782,622 ?led Feb. 13, 2001,
the description of Which is herein incorporated by reference
in its entirety.
cartridge 46. The sWitch 94 provides the controller With a
signal indicating that the draWer is open, in response to
Which the controller extinguishes the green light 102b. The
An air pump 48 on the platform 22 is pneumatically
connected to the bladder 42, and is also connected via a
?exible hose 50 to a port 52 in the baf?e 70. Ametering tube
54 extends through the baf?e 70 into the chamber 16. The
metering tube 54 is connected via a second ?exible hose 56
to a depending tubular probe 58 carried by the arm 34. A
second tubular probe 60 underlies the cartridge 46 and opens
doWnWardly above an exterior shelf 62 con?gured and
The user then opens the draWer 88 and inserts a ?lter
10
controller then performs a test 108 to determine if the draWer
had been closed. A “No” determination recycles the
sequence, and a “Yes” determination causes the controller to
15
dimensioned to support a cup 64 or other like receptacle.
The tank 14 stores a supply of liquid 66 heated by an
electrical heating element 68 underlying the cup-shaped
bottom 18.
A tubular transparent column 72 is connected by upper
and loWer branch conduits 74 and 76 to the tank 14. As can
best be seen by further reference to FIGS. 2A—2C, the
column is illuminated from beloW by a blue light source 78,
such as a light emitting diode (LED). The column 72
contains liquid at the same level as the liquid level in tank
14. A ball 80 is buoyantly supported on the surface of the
25
being pierced respectively by probes 58, 60.
Compressed air is then fed into the metering chamber 16
via the hose 50, causing a metered mount of liquid to be
expelled and fed to the cartridge 46 via the hose 56 and the
tubular probe 58. The resulting breWed beverage exits the
cartridge probe 60 and is received in the underlying cup 64.
At the conclusion of the breW cycle, compressed air
purges the metering chamber 16, and the resulting pressure
liquid contained in column 72, and its position in the column
is visually enhanced by light emitted from the underlying
light source 78. Optical sensors 82, 84 are positioned to
sense the position of the ball in its uppermost and loWermost
positions, as shoWn in FIGS. 2B and 2C. The uppermost
position provides an indication that the tank 14 is ?lled, and
drop is sensed by the pressure sensor 98. The controller then
responds by deactivating the pump 46 and the system is
vented. The bladder 42 then collapses, alloWing an upWard
displacement of the shaft 28 under the return force of the
spring 40. The baf?e 70 is thus raised above the seat 20,
alloWing air in the chamber 16 to be displaced by liquid in
the loWermost position conversely indicates that the tank has
been emptied and is in need of being re?lled.
With reference to FIG. 3, it Will be seen that the sensors
82, 84 provide output signals to a controller 86.
Referring again to FIG. 1, the breW chamber 44 includes
a draWer 88 that may be opened to the position indicated by
the tank 14. The return force of the spring 40 also pivots arm
34 upWardly, Which in turn removes the probe 58 from the
cartridge 46.
the broken lines in FIG. 1 in order to accept the ?lter
cartridge 46. The draWer 88 is carried on a slide bar 90
guided by rollers 92, and a sWitch 94 provides a control
intermittently illuminate the green light 102b, and to com
mence the breW cycle by energiZing pump 48 and deener
giZing the heater 68.
The air pump 48 then pneumatically effects the folloWing
sequence of system operation. The bladder 42 is in?ated, the
pushing shaft 28 and the baf?e 70 doWnWardly, until the
gasket 33 is pressed against the seat 20 to seal off the liquid
in the metering chamber 16 from the remainder of the tank
14. The doWnWard movement of the shaft 28 also produces
doWnWard pivotal movement of the arm 34 against the
resistance of the spring 40, Which in turn results in the lid
and bottom of the cartridge 46 in the breWing chamber 44
45
signal to the controller 86 (FIG. 3) indicating open and
closed draWer positions.
The draWer 88 may then be opened and the spent cartridge
46 removed from the breWing chamber, readying the system
for the next cycle. The heater 68 is reenergiZed to heat the
liquid that has re?lled the metering chamber 16.
Atemperature sensor 96 provides a signal to the controller
Various modi?cations may be made to the embodiment
86 (FIG. 3) indicative of liquid temperature in the metering
herein disclosed. For example, the shaft 28 may be vertically
chamber 16, and a pressure sensor 98 provides a signal to the
reciprocated by other means such as for example a motor
driven gear drive, or manual operation of the arm 34. The
metering chamber 16 and the seat 20 may be formed on a
controller indicative of air pressure in the hose 50, Which is
representative of the air pressure in the metering chamber
16.
Referring again to FIG. 3, a panel 100 on the breWer head
includes red and green indicator lights 102a, 102b, con
separate cup-shaped insert received in the tank, rather than
being formed integrally With the tank. The operation of
55
nected to the controller 86. The heater 68 and pump 48 are
also connected to the controller 86.
With reference additionally to FIG. 4, it Will be seen that
When the breWer is initially energiZed, the red light 102a is
lit continuously and the blue light 78 is in a ?ashing mode.
The sensors 82, 84 provide the controller 86 With an
indication of the liquid level in the tank 14, and the con
troller performs a test 104 to determine if an adequate liquid
supply is available. A “No” determination recycles the
sequence, and a “Yes” determination illuminates the blue 65
light 78 continuously. The controller 86 then performs a
second test 106 using the signal from the temperature sensor
pump 48 may be controlled by a timed sequence rather than
in response to pressure in the metering chamber. Different
visual indicators may be employed, and audible Warning
devices may be included to indicate various conditions, e. g.,
if the tank is either empty or in danger of being over?lled.
An immersion heater may be employed in place of the
external heating element 68.
FIG. 5 is a vertical sectional vieW taken through an
alternative embodiment single serve beverage breWer 200.
This breWer 200 is substantially similar to the breWer 10
illustrated in FIG. 1, With the principal exception that the
breWer 200 includes several pneumatic pumps to control the
breWing process. Speci?cally, the breWer 200 includes an air
US 6,672,200 B2
5
6
pump 202 that in?ates the air bladder 42. A ?rst pneumatic
above the ?rst threshold value. If the temperature is not
above the ?rst threshold value (e.g., the signal on the line
240 is a logical Zero) then step 708 is eXecuted to illuminate
a status light (e.g., a yelloW light) to indicate the Water
temperature is not hot enough for breWing. If the Water
temperature is hot enough for breWing, a test 710 is per
breW pump 204 provides compressed air into conduit 206,
Which routes the compressed air through a check valve 208,
and into the pneumatic port 52. A pressure sensor 212 is
connected to the conduit 206. The pressure sensor 212 is
preferably a dual threshold pressure sensor that provides a
?rst signal on a line 214 indicative of When the pressure is
formed to check that the cartridge draWer 88 (FIG. 5) has
been closed in the last thirty (30) seconds. This test helps to
above or beloW and ?rst pressure threshold value (e.g., 1.5
psi), and a second signal on a line 215 indicative of When the
pressure is above or beloW a second pressure threshold value
10
(e.g., 7 psi). Such pressure sensors are available for eXample
signal from the draWer sWitch sensor 94 (FIGS. 5 and 6). If
the draWer 88 has not been closed in the last thirty seconds,
step 712 is performed to illuminate a status light. If the
from World Magnetics (WWW.Worldmagnetics.com) and
from Micropneumatics Logic. The breWer 200 also includes
an interrupt breW pump 214 that provides compressed air
into conduit 216, Which routes the compressed air through a
ensure that the user has placed an unused cartridge into the
breWer. Speci?cally, the test 710 checks the status of the
draWer is closed, then the system is ready for breWing and
15
step 714 is performed to turn the heater off, close the purge
check valve 218, and into conduit 220. The conduit 220
routes the compressed air from the interrupt breW pump to
a How line 222, Which routes compressed air through a
check valve 224 to the tubular probe 58.
FIG. 6 is a block diagram illustration of the control system
associated With the breWer illustrated in FIG. 5. A controller
valve 361 (FIG. 6) and turn the bladder pump 202 (FIG. 6)
230 (e.g., a microcontroller) receives Boolean signals from
arm 34 to pivot, causing the probe 58 to puncture the
cartridge 46 to establish a How path inlet to the cartridge.
the pressure sensor 212, the draWer sWitch 94 and the optical
sensors 82, 84. The controller also receives temperature
threshold signals from a comparator circuit 241. The com
on.
Referring to FIG. 5, turning the bladder pump 202 on
causes the air bladder 42 to in?ate, Which moves the shaft 28
doWnWard sealing the gasket 33 against the seat 20 to
establish the metering chamber area 16. This also causes the
The doWnWard force from the arm 34 also forces the
parator circuit 241 receives a temperature signal on a line
239 from the temperature sensor 96. The circuit 241 includes
cartridge against and to be pierced by the How outlet needle
60, thus establishing a How eXit path from the cartridge.
Referring to FIGS. 5 and 7, folloWing the step 714 Where the
a ?rst comparator (not shoWn) that provides a Boolean
bladder pump is turned on, step 716 is performed to delay for
25
several seconds (e.g., ?ve seconds), before commanding the
signal on the line 240 indicative of Whether or not the
temperature is above or beloW a ?rst temperature threshold
value (e.g., 186°
The circuit 241 also includes a second
comparator (not shoWn) that provides a Boolean signal on a
line 244 indicative of Whether or not the temperature is
above or beloW a second temperature threshold value (e.g.,
193°
The ?rst and second temperature threshold values
breW pump 204 (FIG. 5) on in step 718. The delay accounts
for the time is takes for the shaft 28 to drive the gasket 33
into position to seal the metering chamber, and for the arm
34 to move into the breWing position.
While the breW pump 204 is on and the bladder 42 is
35
are used as set points for a heater control routine to be
discussed hereinafter. The controller 230 also receives an
input signal on a line 234 from a breW button 232 located on
The Water then passes through the breW valve check valve
224 into the cartridge 46. The Water enters the cartridge
the breWer control panel. We shall noW discuss the operation
of the pumps 202, 204, 214 and a purge value 361.
FIGS. 7A and 7B (collectively FIG. 7) together are a How
chart illustration of a breW cycle routine 700 performed by
the controller 230. The controller 230 is preferably a micro
through the doWnWardly projecting apertured probe 58,
passes through beverage eXtract and a ?lter Within the
cartridge, and eXits the cartridge through the holloW piercing
member 60 to a cup beloW.
controller such as a model PIC16C57 manufactured by
Microchip (WWW.microchip.com). This microcontroller
in?ated to seal the gasket 33 against the seat 20, compressed
air enters the metering chamber 16 through port 223 driving
Water in the metering chamber into the metering tube 54.
45
includes on chip program memory, RAM and a CPU. In this
embodiment, the steps illustrated in FIG. 7 represent execut
Referring again to FIGS. 5 and 7, once the breW pump 204
is turned on in the step 718, the controller performs a safety
test 722. The test 722 monitors the sensed pressure signal
value on the line 215 (FIG. 6), Which is indicative of Whether
able program instructions that are stored in the microcon
or not pressure in the metering chamber eXceeds a maXimum
troller program memory and periodically eXecuted by the
pressure threshold value (e.g., 7 psi). If the pressure the
pressure exceeds the maXimum pressure threshold value,
then step 724 commands the pumps off. Step 724 also
commands a purge valve 361 (FIG. 5) to the open, in order
CPU.
The routine 700 includes a test 702 that determines if the
breWing process should begin. This test checks the state of
the breW signal on the line 234 (FIG. 6) that is generated by
to de?ate the air bladder 42 causing the shaft 28 to move
a breW button located on the breWer, and depressed When the
user Wishes to breW a beverage. If the signal on line 234
indicates that a user has not depressed the breW button, then
the remaining steps of the routine 700 are not eXecuted.
HoWever, if the breW signal indicates that the user has
vertically upWard and the probe 58 to disengage from the
55
cartridge 46. The test 722 also checks if the breW pump 204
has been on for an excessive amount of time and eXecutes
the step 724 if it has. FolloWing step 724, step 725 is
performed to determine if an over pressure has been detected
depressed the breW button, test 703 checks the liquid level
for tWo consecutive breWing cycles. That is, test 725 deter
sensors 82, 84 (FIG. 6) to ensure that there is Water in the
breWer. If there is not, step 705 is performed to ?ash the
mines if during the breWing of the last tWo cups, Was an over
ing. The test 706 checks the status of the Boolean signal on
pressure detected during each breW. If it Was detected during
tWo consecutive breWs, then the How path betWeen the
metering tube 54 and the probe 60 may be at least partially
blocked. Therefore, step 727 is performed to illuminate a
status light(s) indicative of a detected condition Where the
user should clean the How path betWeen and including the
line 240 (FIG. 6) to determine if the Water temperature is
metering tube 54 and the probe 60.
Water column light 78 (FIG. 6) to call attention to the tubular
transparent column that indicates the Water level. If there is
enough Water in the breWer, test 706 is performed to
determine if the Water temperature is hot enough for breW
65
US 6,672,200 B2
8
7
If the test 724 determines an over pressure or a time-out
input signal processing, output signal processing, storage
situation does not exist, an interrupt breW routine illustrated
in FIG. 8 is performed.
tank temperature control, and background and foreground
built-in-tests, and/or other control and monitoring routines.
The delays may be implemented by hardWare or softWare
FIG. 8 is a How chart illustration of a interrupt breW logic
routine 800. This routine controls the operation of the
interrupt breW pump 214 (FIG. 5), Which provides a user the
ability of customiZe the amount of Water in their breWed
beverage, and hence the taste. The routine includes a test 802
to check if the breW pump 204 (FIG. 5) is on. If the breW
pump 204 is not on, then the routine exits. HoWever, if the
breW pump 204 is on, then a test 804 is performed to
determine if the user has depressed the breW button 232
counters.
Once the delay time of step 728 has elapsed, step 730 is
executed to command the pumps 202, 204, 214 off. Step 732
is then performed to open the purge valve 361 (FIG. 5) to
10
de?ate the air bladder 42. De?ating the air bladder 42 causes
the shaft 28 to move vertically upWard, Which alloWs Water
(FIG. 5). If the breW button is not depressed, the routine
to enter (i.e., re?ll) the metering chamber 16 (FIG. 5) from
the tank 14 (FIG. 5).
exits. If the user has depressed the breW button, then in step
806 the breW interrupt pump 214 (FIG. 5) is turned on, and
the breW pump 204 (FIG. 5) is turned off. As a result,
draWer 44 is opened, the used cartridge is removed, a neW
cartridge is inserted and the draWer 44 is returned to the
Referring again to FIG. 5, to breW another beverage, the
15
closed position, and the start breW button is depressed again.
compressed air ?oWs through the How line 220 (FIG. 5), into
the How line 222 (FIG. 5) and through the tubular probe 58
(FIG. 5) into the cartridge. The breW interrupt pump remains
periodically performed by the controller. The routine 900
on for about six seconds, to drive the Water in the How line
includes a test 902 to determine if the heater has been on for
222 through the tubular probe 58 to the cartridge.
an excessive amount of time (e.g., tWelve minutes), or it has
been off for too long. If either of these conditions is true, step
904 commands the heater off. Step 904 may also command
the pumps off, and the purge valve open. Step 906 then
annunciates the fault/alarm condition and the system is
placed into an “off/safety state” to prevent further breWing.
OtherWise, test 908 is performed to determine if the meter
ing chamber 14 (FIG. 5) is over pressuriZed. The test 908
reads the status of the signal on the line 215 (FIG. 5) from
the pressure sensor (FIG. 5), and if the status of the signal
indicates the pressure exceeds the second pressure threshold
FIG. 9 is a How chart of a built-in-test routine 900
Signi?cantly, once the breW interrupt pump 214 is turned on,
Water no longer ?oWs from the metering chamber 14 (FIG.
5) to the metering probe 54 (FIG. 5). Execution then returns
to test 726 illustrated in FIG. 7.
25
Test 726 is performed to determine if the air pressure in
the metering chamber 16 (FIG. 5) has dropped beloW a
threshold value indicating that a desired amount of liquid
has been output from the breWer. The threshold value is
preferably a fraction of the nominal maximum sensed pres
sure during the breWing cycle. For example, the threshold
value associated With an over pressure, step 910 is per
may be 75% of the maximum sensed pressure during the
breWing cycle. Alternatively, the threshold may be a con
stant value. If the user has not depressed the breW button
While the breW pump is on in order to terminate the breW
formed to turn the pumps off and open the purge value. Step
912 is then performed to annunciate the fault/alarm condi
35
cycle, then the pressure Will nominally drop beloW the
tion and the system is placed into the “off/safety state” to
prevent further breWing.
threshold value When a predetermined amount of liquid has
FIG. 10 is a How chart illustration of a routine 1000 for
been delivered from the metering chamber. The predeter
mined amount (e.g., eight ?uid ounces) is set based upon the
controlling the liquid heater. The routine 1000 includes test
1002 that checks if the breW pump 204 (FIG. 5) is on. If it
is, then the heater has already been commanded off (step 714
siZe of the metering chamber. HoWever, the user can control
the amount of liquid in the breWed beverage by depressing
in FIG. 7), and heater remains off While the breW pump is on.
HoWever, if the breW pump is not on, then test 1003 checks
to see if the Water level in the breW is above the minimum
the breW button While the breW pump is on. This causes the
breW pump to turn off, and the breW interrupt pump to turn
on in order to bloW out the Water in the line How line 222.
Signi?cantly, depressing the breW button 232 (FIG. 5) While
45
there is not enough Water in the breWer the heater is turned
off in step 1006. OtherWise, test 1004 is performed to
determine if the Water temperature is above a maximum
Water temperature threshold value. This test checks the
status of the signal on the line 244 (FIG. 5). If the Boolean
the breW pump is on, terminates the breW cycle causing an
amount of liquid less than the predetermined amount to be
delivered during the breW cycle.
The test 726 monitors the sensed pressure value on the
line 214 from the pressure sensor 212 (FIG. 5). If the
pressure has not dropped (i.e., the signal on the line 214
indicates the pressure is above the threshold), execution
signal on the line 244 (FIG. 5) indicates that the temperature
is greater than this threshold value, then the Water is hot
enough and the heater is commanded off in step 1006. Test
1008 is then performed to determine if the Water temperature
returns to test 322.
Once the test 726 determines that the pressure has
dropped (caused by either delivering the predetermined
threshold. This test is performed by checking the status of
the signal from optical sensor #1 82 (FIGS. 2A and 5). If
55
is beloW a minimum Water temperature value. This test
amount of liquid or a breW interrupt), step 728 is performed
to delay several seconds in order to bloW residual liquid
checks the status of the Boolean signal on the line 240 (FIG.
from the liquid ?oW path leading to the probe 58 (FIG. 5).
temperature is less than the minimum Water threshold value,
During this delay the breW pump 204 or the interrupt breW
pump 214 (FIG. 5) remains on, depending of course Which
one is on prior to the delay 228. Signi?cantly, bloWing out
the How path leading to the cartridge ensures that only hot
Water is used to breW, Which is especially important if there
then the heater is commanded on in step 1010. If the test
1008 determines the Water temperature is not beloW the
5). If the signal on the line 240 (FIG. 5) indicates that the
is a substantial period betWeen uses. In addition, bloWing out
the How path removes liquid from the used cartridge for
cleaner disposal. One of ordinary skill Will recogniZe that
during the delays the controller performs other tasks such as
65
minimum Water threshold value, then the temperature is
betWeen the minimum and maximum threshold temperature
values (i.e., the threshold values set in the comparator circuit
241 of FIG. 5). Therefore, step 1012 is performed to turn the
heater on and off With a 50% duty cycle.
FIG. 11 is a How chart illustration of a routine 1100 for
checking the liquid level Within the storage tank 14 (FIG. 5).
US 6,672,200 B2
10
means for sealing a portion of said storage tank from the
remainder of said storage tank to form a metering
chamber, that includes said reduced diameter cup
The routine 1100 includes test 1102 to check if the Water
level in the tank 14 (FIG. 5) is too high. The test checks the
status of the optical sensor #1 (FIGS. 2A and 5). If the
optical sensor #1 82 indicates the tank is full, then step 1104
shaped bottom;
is performed to provide an audio indication to the user to
means for delivering compressed air to said metering
stop ?lling the unit via inlet 17 (FIG. 5). For example,
several beeps may be output from speaker 266 (FIG. 5). If
chamber to transfer a volume of liquid from said
the tank is not full, then test 1106 is performed to determine
if the Water level is too loW. If it is, then step 1108 is
performed the ?ash the Water column light 78 (FIGS. 2A and
5).
10
While the present invention has been described in the
metering chamber via said second outlet for delivery to
and through the cartridge via said ?rst inlet and said
?rst outlet, and for sensing the pressure of said com
pressed air and providing a sensed pressure signal value
indicative thereof; and
a controller that
conteXt of a preferred embodiment that senses air pressure to
commands said means for delivering
to provide compressed air to said metering chamber,
(ii) monitors said sensed pressure signal value and (iii)
determine When the desired amount of liquid has been
delivered from the metering chamber, the present invention
is not so limited. For eXample, a level sensor (e.g., a ?oat 15
commands said means for delivering to terminate deliv
sWitch) may be located in the metering chamber to deter
ery of compressed air to said metering chamber after
detecting that said sensed pressure signal value has
dropped beloW a threshold value, and unseals said
mine When the liquid in the chamber is beloW a certain level.
In addition, the breW pump may be simply commanded on
for a set period of time suf?cient to ensure that the prede
termined amount of liquid has been delivered from the
metering chamber. Notably, it suf?ces that in all these
embodiments of the present invention compressed air is used
to drive liquid from the metering chamber. In addition,
although the breWer is discussed in the conteXt of manually
adding Water to the system, one of ordinary skill Will
recogniZe that the system may include automatic re?ll if
connected for such operation to the plumbing.
Although the present invention has been discussed in the
metering chamber.
2. The breWing system of claim 1, Wherein said means for
delivering comprises:
a ?rst breW pump for generating said compressed air;
a ?oW line that receives and provides said compressed air
to said metering chamber; and
25
compressed air Within said ?oW line and provide said
sensed pressure signal value.
3. The breWing system of claim 2 Wherein said controller
conteXt of an automated breWing system that includes a
microcontroller, one of ordinary skill Will recogniZe that
there a number of different techniques for controlling the
delivery of the compressed air to the metering chamber. For
commands off said means for delivering to terminate deliv
ery of said compressed air a predetermined time after
detecting that said sensed pressure signal value has dropped
eXample, a state machine may be used rather than a CPU. In
beloW a threshold value.
addition, the controller may be an analog system rather than
a digital controller. Furthermore, a pneumatic controller
4. The breWing system of claim 3, Wherein said means for
sealing comprises:
rather than an electronic controller may be used to control
delivery and venting of the compressed air. While obvious,
35
it should also be noted the present invention is certainly not
limited to the delay values, threshold values or breWing siZes
discussed herein. In addition, it is contemplated that rather
than an electrically controllable valve, the purge valve may
position said sealing assembly engages a seat of said
cup shaped bottom to form said metering chamber; and
means for moving said slideable shaft betWeen said ?rst
arm moves from the beverage breWing position. In addition,
the controller may also include an analog-to-digital con
and second positions.
verter (ADC), Which alloWs analog temperature and pres
5. The breWing system of claim 2, Wherein said means for
delivering includes a second air pump that delivers a second
45
an account debited. For eXample, test may check to ensure
the required fee has been paid before breWing is alloWed to
?oW of compressed air doWnstream of said second outlet
ump in response to a breW interrupt signal received by said
controller.
6. The breWing system of claim 4, Wherein said means for
moving said slideable shaft betWeen said ?rst and second
positions comprises:
start.
Although the present invention has been shoWn and
described With respect to several preferred embodiments
thereof, various changes, omissions and additions to the
form and detail thereof, may be made therein, Without
departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.
a slideable shaft having a proXimal end and a distal end
that includes a sealing assembly on said distal end,
Wherein said sealing assembly moves betWeen a ?rst
position and a second position, Wherein in said second
be mechanically linked to the arm so the valve opens as the
sure signal values to be input to the controller and digitiZed
for use in the control and monitoring routines.
The present invention may also operate in a “vending”
environment. That is, as a vending machining, the system
Would not start breWing until money has been deposited or
a pressure sensor disposed to sense the pressure of said
an air bladder pump that receives an air bladder pump
command signal from said controller and provides
compressed air;
an air bladder that receives said compressed air from said
55
What is claimed is:
1. A breWing system for breWing a beverage from an
eXtract contained in a sealed disposable cartridge, said
air bladder pump, and in an in?ated state drives said
shaft to said second position, and in an unin?ated state
drives said shaft to said ?rst position; and
a valve that is operably connected to said air bladder and
can be opened and closed in response to a valve
system comprising:
housing means de?ning a breWing chamber for receiving
command signal from said controller, Wherein in the
open position said
the cartridge;
means associated With said housing means for piercing
the cartridge to provide a ?rst inlet and a ?rst outlet
valve vents said air bladder to ambient and in the closed
position prevents said air bladder from venting to
communicating With the interior of the cartridge;
reduced diameter cup-shaped bottom and being in
ambient.
7. The breWing system of claim 4, Wherein said means for
moving said slideable shaft betWeen said ?rst and second
communication With the cartridge via a second outlet;
positions comprises:
a storage tank comprising a supply of liquid and having a
65
US 6,672,200 B2
11
12
an air bladder pump that receives an air bladder pump
compressed air from a second pump to move said slideable
command signal from said controller and provides
shaft betWeen said ?rst and second positions.
16. The system of claim 9, Wherein said means for moving
said slideable shaft comprises:
compressed air to
said means for moving said
slideable shaft and to (ii) said means for delivering
compressed air; and
a second pump that receives a second pump command
an air bladder that receives said compressed air from said
signal from said controller and provides compressed
air bladder pump, and in an in?ated state drives said
shaft to said second position, and in an unin?ated state
an air bladder that receives said compressed air from said
drives said shaft to said ?rst position.
8. A system for repeatedly delivering a volume of heated
air;
10
liquid, said system comprising:
said shaft to said ?rst position; and
a valve that is operably connected to said air bladder and
can be opened and closed in response to a valve
a storage tank comprising a supply of liquid and having a
reduced diameter cup-shaped bottom and a sideWall
With a seat;
a heater for heating the supply of liquid;
15
a slideable shaft having a proximal end and a distal end
17. The breWing system of claim 16, further comprising
a third air pump that delivers a third How of compressed air
to said How line upstream of said ?rst pump in response to
Wherein in said second position said baf?e engages said
seat to form a metering chamber in a portion of said
a breW interrupt signal received by said controller.
18. An automated beverage breWing system that receives
storage tank; and
means for moving said slideable shaft betWeen said ?rst
and second positions;
said metering chamber; and
command signal from said controller, Wherein in the
open position said valve vents said air bladder to
ambient and in the closed position prevents said air
bladder from venting to ambient.
that includes a sealing assembly on said distal end,
Wherein said shaft assembly is connected to a baffle that
moves betWeen a ?rst position and a second position,
a discharge conduit communicating With the interior of
second pump, and in an in?ated state drives said shaft
to said second position, and in an unin?ated state drives
a cartridge containing a beverage eXtract and establishes a
25
liquid ?oW path through the cartridge to provide a breWed
beverage, said system comprising:
a ?rst pump that pneumatically pressuriZes the interior of
a holder that holds and pierces the cartridge to provide a
said metering chamber to an elevated pressure level to
cartridge inlet and a cartridge outlet that together
establish a How path through the beverage eXtract to
eXhaust said heated liquid from said metering chamber
via said discharge conduit.
provide the breWed beverage;
. The system of claim 8, further comprising:
m sensor that senses pressure in said metering chamber
and provides a sensed pressure signal value indicative
a storage tank comprising a supply of liquid and having a
reduced diameter cup-shaped bottom and being in
communication With the cartridge via a chamber outlet
thereof; and
a controller that monitors said sensed pressure signal
value and turns said ?rst pump off a predetermined time
period after detecting a reduction in said sensed pres
sure signal value beloW a threshold value indicating
said volume of heated liquid has been delivered
port;
35
metering chamber in cooperation With said reduced
diameter cup-shaped bottom;
a ?rst pump that provides compressed air along a How line
to said metering chamber to force liquid from said
through said discharge conduit.
metering chamber and through said chamber outlet
10. The system of claim 9, Wherein said controller com
prises a central processing unit.
port;
a sensor that senses air pressure in said How line and
11. The system of claim 10, further comprising:
a holder that holds and pierces a disposable cartridge
containing a beverage eXtract to establish a cartridge
inlet and a cartridge outlet that together de?ne a How
path through the beverage eXtract to provide a breWed
provides a sensed pressure signal indicative thereof;
and
45
after detecting that said sensed pressure signal value
has dropped beloW a threshold value indicating the
cartridge inlet receives said heated ?uid.
12. The system of claim 11, further comprising:
predetermined volume of liquid has been delivered
through said chamber outlet port.
19. The breWing system of claim 18, Wherein said con
a temperature sensor that senses the temperature of said
supply of liquid in said storage tank and provides a
sensed temperature signal value indicative thereof,
Wherein said controller monitors said sensed tempera
ture signal value and prevents said ?rst pump from
minimum breWing temperature value.
troller also commands said pump off if said sensed pressure
signal value eXceeds an upper pressure threshold value.
20. The breWing system of claim 19, further comprising:
55
a temperature sensor that senses the temperature of the
liquid in said storage tank and provides a sensed
temperature signal value indicative thereof, Wherein
said controller monitors said sensed temperature signal
13. The system of claim 12, Wherein said controller
monitors said temperature signal value and commands said
heater on if said sensed temperature signal value drops
beloW a loWer heating threshold value and commands said
heater off if said sensed temperature signal value is greater
value and Will not command said pump on if said
sensed temperature signal value is beloW a temperature
threshold value.
21. The breWing system of claim 18, further comprising
than an upper heating threshold value.
14. The system of claim 8, Wherein said means for moving
said slideable shaft comprises an air bladder that receives
compressed air from said ?rst pump to move said slideable
shaft betWeen said ?rst and second positions.
15. The system of claim 8, Wherein said means for moving
said slideable shaft comprises an air bladder that receives
a controller that commands said ?rst pump on, monitors
said sensed pressure signal and turns said ?rst pump off
beverage through said cartridge outlet, Wherein said
being turned on if said temperature signal is beloW a
means for sealing a portion of said storage tank to form a
a second air pump that delivers a second How of compressed
air doWnstream of said metering chamber outlet port and
upstream of said cartridge inlet in response to a breW
65
interrupt signal received by said controller.
*
*
*
*
*