|Publication number||US20030198465 A1|
|Application number||US 10/126,715|
|Publication date||Oct 23, 2003|
|Filing date||Apr 19, 2002|
|Priority date||Apr 19, 2002|
|Publication number||10126715, 126715, US 2003/0198465 A1, US 2003/198465 A1, US 20030198465 A1, US 20030198465A1, US 2003198465 A1, US 2003198465A1, US-A1-20030198465, US-A1-2003198465, US2003/0198465A1, US2003/198465A1, US20030198465 A1, US20030198465A1, US2003198465 A1, US2003198465A1|
|Original Assignee||Cai Edward Z.|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Referenced by (8), Classifications (6)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
 The present invention relates to a device and method for making hot water for direct consumption or tea or the like use. Particularly, the present invention relates to a device and method for making hot water, either filtered or unfiltered, and delivering the hot water into a cup for direct use or to flavor-containing materials for brewing beverage.
 Hot water is commonly used for direct drinking, steeping tea bags and numerous other uses at homes and in offices. The most common apparatus for use in making hot water at homes and out of homes are microwave ovens and electric or gas ranges. Although such apparatus heat and boil water in a container well, they can neither provide hot water at a predetermined temperature below water boiling point nor provide hot water in a continuous fashion. Hot water has also been provided by under-sink water heaters in which the water from a plumb system are heated and stored prior to being dispensed. Such under-sink heaters also work well, but they are difficult to install and causes energy waste due to heat loss to environment during the storage of hot water.
 Hot water can also been made by automatic drip coffeemakers by heating and pumping water to the brew head and the brew basket below in which there is no coffee grounds. The hot water is received in a carafe below the brew basket. The resulting hot water, however, often has very unpleasant “burned” smell. The hot water can not be received in any other container such as a cup or bowl because the “pause and serve” feature on the brew basket works only with the carafe. The user may remove the basket from the coffeemaker to allow water to drip into her or his desired container such as a cup. Unfortunately, such desired container is most likely to be too short to receive hot water from the brew head directly. In addition, safety is a concern since the hot water is gushed out shot by shot.
 Accordingly, the present invention intends to provide a device and method to provide consumers better tasting hot water at more defined temperature than existing water heating apparatus. The present invention also intends to provide consumers a very low cost and safe device to make hot water or/and related beverages. The present invention further intends to provide a device and method for minimizing energy need when making hot water.
 In accordance with the present invention, there is provided a new device and method for making cold and hot filtered water. The device comprises a removable water filter unit for making filtered water, a first chamber for receiving the filtered water from the filter unit, a tubular heater connected to an opening on the bottom of the first chamber, a hot water temperature optimizer connected to the heater outlet of the tubular heater for ensuring the optimized temperature for the hot water, a first dispensing station connected to the optimizer outlet of the optimizer for dispensing hot water in the optimizer directly into a receptacle such as a cup, and a second dispensing station connected to the bottom part of the first chamber for dispensing cold water therein directly into a receptacle such as a cup. The optimizer comprises an optimizer inlet connected to the heater, a second chamber, an optimizer outlet and a vent that opens into the first chamber in a first embodiment of the invention or connected to a brew station having a brew head and a brew basket for holding a supply of coffee grounds and extracting the grounds to make coffee in a second embodiment of the invention. In a third embodiment, the optimizer comprises a housing, a closable inlet connecting the heater inlet to the housing, an housing outlet and a bi-metal plate for partially plugging the closable inlet when the temperature of water entering the housing is below the optimized temperature for drinking or steeping tea bags and fully opening the closable inlet when the temperature of water entering the housing is above the optimized temperature
 Method for making hot and cold filtered water includes filling the reservoir of the removable filter unit with water from a water faucet and placing the filter unit back into the first chamber. Place a cup below the second dispensing station and opens the valve if the user wants a cup of cold filtered water or place a cup below the first dispensing station, turn on the heater and open the valve if the user want a cup of hot filtered water. After the water in the heater reaches the temperature predetermined at least partly by the hot water temperature optimizer, the hot water will be delivered to optimizer chamber through the optimizer inlet and exit through the optimizer outlet and the first dispensing station into the cup. After the cup is full, the user moves the valve shaft downward to stop the flow of cold or hot filtered water.
 Method for making a cup of hot filtered water for steeping tea or for direct drinking without interrupting the coffee brewing in the basket includes placing a cup below the first dispensing station and moving the valve shaft upwards. After the water in the heater reaches the temperature predetermined at least partly by the optimizer, the hot water will exit through the optimizer outlet and the spout of the first dispensing station into the cup. After the cup is full, the user moves the valve shaft downward to close the dispensing station, causing the hot water to exit through the vent and tube into the brew basket again. It is appreciated that while the hot water is dispensed into the cup at the dispensing station, the coffee extraction in the basket continues to drip into the carafe.
 It is an object of the present invention to provide a device and method for making better tasting hot water at optimized temperature for steeping tea bags for direct drinking.
 It is a further object of the present invention to provide a device and method to make both cold and hot filtered water with a single device.
 It is a further object of the present invention to provide a device and method to make both coffee and hot filtered water for steeping tea bags with a single device at the same time.
 It is a further object of the present invention to provide a device and method to dispense hot filtered water instantly.
 These and other objectives and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following description of the preferred embodiments, taken together with the accompanying drawings.
 The accompanying drawing illustrates diagramatically non-limitative embodiment of the invention, as follows:
FIG. 1 is a sectional view of a first embodiment of the invention;
FIG. 2 is a sectional view along line A-A of FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is a sectional view of an alternative to the hot water temperature optimizer 63 of FIG. 1;
FIG. 4 is a sectional view of a second embodiment of the invention;
FIG. 5 is a sectional view along line A-A of FIG. 4;
FIG. 6 is a sectional view along line B-B of FIG. 5;
FIG. 7 is a sectional view of an alternative device to those of FIG. 1 and 4 for making hot water.
FIGS. 1 and 2 show a device 1A for use in making and dispensing filtered cold water and filtered hot water into a cup (not shown) for uses such as steeping tea bags or direct drinking. Device 1A comprises a removable water filter unit 8 for making filtered water, a first chamber 6 for receiving the filtered water from the filter unit, a tubular heater 15 connected to opening 20 on the bottom 7 of the first chamber 6, a hot water temperature optimizer 63 connected to the heater outlet 41 of the tubular heater via a elastomer tube 40 for ensuring the optimized temperature for the hot water, and a dispensing station 70 a connected to a optimizer outlet 68 of the optimizer via a hot water passageway 6 for dispensing hot water directly into a receptacle such as a cup. The chamber 6 has a lid 2 connected to the chamber by a hinge 3.
 The removable water filter unit 8 comprises a water reservoir 5 having a bottom 27, a filter cartridge 28, an reservoir outlet chamber 52 located below the bottom 27 for receiving the filter cartridge, a cylindrical support 25 formed around the outlet chamber and having a plurality of openings 26 for allowing air and the filtered water to pass through, an automatic valve 55 for automatically closing the reservoir outlet 52 when the filter unit is removed from the first chamber 6, and a handle 4 for assisting the handling of the filter unit 8. The cartridge 28 has a porous upper wall 30, a porous bottom wall 32, a side wall 56, filter materials 31 such as ion-exchange resins and activated carbon enclosed by the walls, and a ball shaped handle 29 for facilitating the removal and mounting of the cartridge. The top part of the side wall is slightly thickened to engage with a step 57 on the reservoir outlet chamber 52 to prevent the cartridge from being pushed into the bottom of the outlet chamber. The porous bottom wall 32 is attached to side wall 56 by either heat welding or mechanical locking.
 The automatic valve 55 comprises an opening 51 formed on the bottom 36 of the reservoir outlet 52, a seal disc 35 for sealing the opening 51, a keeper disc 38 connected the seal disc via a stem 50, a spring for loaded to pull the seal disc downward to seal the opening 51, and an actuation member 49 for pushing the keeper disc and thus the seal disc upwards when the filter unit 8 is mounted to or into the chamber 6.
 It is appreciated that all of the filter unit, except the filter cartridge 28, can be fixed to the device. For example, the reservoir 5 can form the upper part of the first chamber 6 to receive unfiltered water while the lower part of the chamber 6 is used to receive the filtered water from the filter cartridge 26 mounted in the reservoir outlet chamber 52 (not shown). In this example, the automatic valve becomes not necessary.
 The heater 15 is housed in a bottom chamber 11 sealed by a bottom plate 10 having at least three legs 9. The heater comprises a tubular heating channel 42 having an heater inlet 17 and heater outlet 41, a tubular heating element 12 having electric connector pins 16 in heat conducting relation to the tubular heating channel, a first and second thermostats 14 a and 14 b for controlling the heating element. The heater inlet is connected to opening 20 of the bottom plate 7 through a check valve 46. The check valve has a seal ball 18 kept in place below a cylinder 47 by a keeper 22 and a stem 19 that connecting the keeper to the seal ball. A elastomer tube 45 can be used to connect the heater inlet 17 to the cylinder 47. The first thermostat is configured to allow the water in the heater to be heated to generate steam pressure to deliver the heated water to the optimizer 63. The second thermostat is configured to keep the water in the heater at a temperature below water boiling point when the device 1A is not in use, thereby reducing the waiting time needed to make a cup of hot water.
 It is appreciated that the heater 15 may adopt any non-tubular shape. For example, the heater may adopt a cylindrical shape in which the heater inlet 17 is formed on the top of the cylindrical heater and the heater outlet 41 at the bottom of the heater (not shown). Such an arrangement has the advantage of allowing the steam to rise and accumulate above the water in the heater for more efficient delivery of the hot water by steam pressure.
 The hot water temperature optimizer 63 is located in space 58 formed between the filter unit 8 and the first chamber 6. The optimizer comprises an inlet tube 62 having a lower end 39 connected to the heater outlet 41 through elastomer tube 40 and a upper end 61 as the optimizer inlet, an optimizer chamber 65, a vent 60 at the top wall 59 of the optimizer chamber and an optimizer outlet 68 connected to dispensing station 70 a. The vent 60 for the optimizer chamber 65 opens into the first chamber 6. The exact roles of the optimizer are not well understood yet. However, it is understood that without the optimizer 63, the temperature of the hot water varies significantly as the water level in the first chamber 6 changes. Specifically, the temperature of the hot water is unacceptably low when the water level in the chamber 6 is high, and unacceptably high when the water level in the chamber 6 is low. It is also noticed that without the optimizer, cold water runs through the dispensing station even when the heater 15 is off. It is also realized that the optimizer can help making the water flow substantially continuous if the optimizer chamber is sufficient large and the dispensing station is adequately restrictive. It is also noticed that the first chamber 6 and even the filter unit 8 become sterilized or cleaned by hot water and/or steam when the heater 15 is turned on and the dispensing station 70 a is closed as a result of the re-circulation of the hot water and/or steam between the heater 15 and the first chamber 6 through the vent 60.
 It is appreciated the vent 60 may be optional when the optimizer chamber 65 is sufficiently large. It is appreciated that the optimizer inlet 61 and outlet 68 may be located at different positions in the optimizer 63. In one extreme, the optimizer outlet 68 may be located near the top and the optimizer inlet 61 at the bottom of the optimizer chamber 65. In this case, the hot water passageway 69 a needs to be relatively long and arranged relatively vertically to position the dispensing station a safe distance, preferably only slightly higher than a cup, from the countertop to reduce hot water burning to the user or children. It is also appreciated that the hot water temperature optimizer 60 may be located at other locations of the device 1A, such as located at or near the top of the first chamber 6.
 The dispensing station 70 a for the hot water comprises a body 67 a having a spout 71 a located at its lower end, a valve shaft 75 a having a handle 66 a for allowing the user to move the shaft up to open the spout and down to close the spout. An o-ring or other type of seal 72 a may be used to achieve sufficient seal to prevent any leakage when the spout is closed.
 The device also has a second dispensing station 70 b (FIG. 2), which can be identical in design to dispensing station 70 a, is attached to the side wall of the first chamber 6 near its bottom for dispensing cold filtered water directly to a cup for direct drink or other use. A water cooling system 34 is located near the dispensing station 70 b for further cooling the cold water in the chamber 6 before dispensing. A water level indicator 77 is located on the side wall of the chamber 6 to indicate to the user the amount of cold filtered water available.
 It is appreciated that the dispensing stations 70 a and 70 b can be any types of spigot or faucet. It is also appreciated that the dispensing station can be as simple as a spout without any valve mechanism to control the flow and as complex as a spout with a solenoid valve. It is also appreciated that the first chamber 6 or the reservoir 5 of the filter unit 8 can be connected directly to an external water source such as a plumbing system.
 To make hot and cold filtered water, one fills the reservoir 5 of the filter unit 8 with water from a water faucet and places the filter unit back into the first chamber 6. The user then places a cup below the dispensing station 70 b and moves the valve shaft 66 b upwards if he or she wants a cup of cold filtered water. If the user want a cup of hot filtered water, she or he places the cup below the dispensing station 70 a, turns on the heater and moves the valve shaft 66 a upwards. After the water in the heating channel 45 reaches the temperature predetermined at least partly by the hot water temperature optimizer 63, the hot water will be delivered to optimizer chamber 65 through optimizer inlet 61 and exit through the optimizer outlet 68 and the spout 7 a into the cup. After the cup is full, the user moves the valve shaft downward to stop the flow of cold or hot filtered water.
FIG. 3 shows an alternative configuration for the hot water optimizer 63. The alternative is substantially similar to that of FIG. 1 except that a flow inverter 99 is formed on the top wall 59 for changing the hot water flow from the optimizer inlet 61 from the original upward direction to the downward direction, thereby reducing the loss of hot water from the vent into the first chamber 6. The flow inverter has inverting chamber 23 for receiving the optimizer inlet 61, a flow channel opened downward between the tube 62 and the inverting chamber 23 and a passageway 24 for communicating the optimizer chamber to the vent 60. It is appreciated that other flow deflector may be used to change the direction of the hot water into the optimizer chamber 65. It is also appreciated that the flow direction of the hot water from the optimizer inlet can be changed by angling or bending the tube 62.
 FIGS. 4-6 show an alternative device 1B for making hot water. The alternative is substantially similar to that of FIG. 1 except that the vent 60 b is connected to an elastomer tube 79 (FIG. 4) to a brew head 88 (FIG. 6). The brew head 88 has a hot water distributor 87 for distributing the hot water from the tube 79 to the flavor-containing materials (not shown) in a brew basket 90, a receiving station 85 for the hot water from the tube 79, and a cover 86. The brew basket 90 has a chamber 91 for receiving a filter and flavor-containing materials, an extraction discharging spout 95, and filter support bottom 94 having numerous channels 92 for leading the extraction from the filter to discharging spout 95. The brew head is permanently connected to the top of a half-cylindrical wall 81 while the brew basket is removably connected to the half-cylindrical wall. It is appreciated that the optimizer 63 can be located at or in the brew head or the brew basket. It was found that if the water distributor is made restrictive the brew head itself could also be made to function as the optimizer. In this case the receiving station also functions as the second chamber and the optimizer outlet and vent are added to the brew head. When the dispensing station is open, at least a substantial amount of hot water reaching the second chamber or the receiving station will exit through the optimizer outlet and dispensing station due to the restrictive nature of the water distributor.
 The method of making hot filtered water with this device 1B is similar that with the device 1A. To make coffee, the user places a filter paper into the brew basket 90, put the desired amount of grounds on the filter and place a carafe (not shown) below the extraction discharging spout 95. Make sure the dispensing station is closed and turn on the heater 15. Water will be delivered from the heater through the vent 60 b of the optimizer 63, the tube 79, distributor 87 and to the flavor-containing materials in the basket. A head of water will develop in the basket to facilitate the seeping of the hot water through the grounds and into the carafe below the discharging spout 95. If the user decides to make a cup of hot filtered water for steeping tea bags or for drinking directly essentially without interrupting the coffee extraction in the basket, he or she simply places a cup below the dispensing station 70 a and moves the valve shaft 66 a upwards. After the water in the heating channel 45 reaches the temperature predetermined at least partly by the hot water temperature optimizer 63, the hot water will exit through the optimizer outlet 68 and the spout 71 a into the cup. After the cup is full, the user moves the valve shaft downward to close the dispensing station, causing the hot water to exit through the vent 60 b and tube 79 into the brew basket again. It is appreciated that while the hot water is dispensed into the cup at the dispensing station 71 a, the coffee extraction in the basket 90 continue to drip into the carafe below the discharging spout 95.
FIG. 7 shows another alternative device 1C for making hot and cold filtered water. The alternative is substantially similar to that of FIG. 1 except the hot water temperature optimizer 63 a. The optimizer 63 a comprises a closable inlet 93, a housing 97, a thermal-mechanical device 96 above the closable inlet and mounted to the hosing, and an outlet 100 connected to the dispensing station 71 a via hot water passageway 69 a. The thermal-mechanical device is adapted to change its shape or dimension to plug or partially plug the closable inlet when the temperature of the water entering the housing 97 is below a predetermined temperature and to fully open the closable inlet when the water temperature is above the predetermined temperature. The device may comprise a bi-metal plate or coil or wire that has two metals or other materials which are attached to each other but have different thermal expansion properties.
 The scope of the invention is obviously not restricted to the embodiments described by way of examples and depicted in the drawings, there being numerous changes, modifications, additions, and applications thereof imaginable within the purview of the claims.
|Citing Patent||Filing date||Publication date||Applicant||Title|
|US7151892 *||Aug 31, 2005||Dec 19, 2006||Zhejiang Qinyuan Drinking Water Sci. & Tech. Co., Ltd.||Rapid electric heating water dispenser|
|US7673555||Sep 20, 2006||Mar 9, 2010||Starbucks Corporation||Machine for brewing a beverage such as coffee and related method|
|US8371211||Dec 22, 2010||Feb 12, 2013||Starbucks Corporation||Machine for brewing a beverage such as coffee and related method|
|US8621982||Feb 11, 2013||Jan 7, 2014||Starbucks Corporation||Temperature-controlled beverage brewing|
|US8794127||Mar 5, 2010||Aug 5, 2014||Starbucks Corporation||Machine for brewing a beverage such as coffee and related method|
|US20050150824 *||Jan 8, 2004||Jul 14, 2005||Kaz, Incorporated||Water filtration tank dispensing system|
|US20060120704 *||Aug 31, 2005||Jun 8, 2006||Zhejiang Qinyuan Drinking Water Sci. & Tech. Co., Ltd.||Rapid electric heating water dispenser|
|US20110256494 *||Oct 20, 2011||Lydia Hannelore Braun||Wax Melting Device|
|U.S. Classification||392/471, 99/275, 99/323.3|