|Publication number||USRE34382 E|
|Application number||US 07/894,513|
|Publication date||Sep 21, 1993|
|Filing date||Jun 4, 1992|
|Priority date||Apr 20, 1989|
|Publication number||07894513, 894513, US RE34382 E, US RE34382E, US-E-RE34382, USRE34382 E, USRE34382E|
|Inventors||Brian D. Newnan|
|Original Assignee||Grindmaster Corporation|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (16), Referenced by (24), Classifications (12), Legal Events (10)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
.Iadd.This is a continuation of application Ser. No. 07/694,641 filed May 2, 1991, now abandoned and a Reissue of Ser. No. 07/342,247 filed Apr. 20, 1989 now U.S. Pat. No. 4,955,510. .Iaddend.
This invention relates generally to means for delivering a predetermined volume of coffee beans to a grinder and to means for delivering a predetermined quantity of ground coffee to coffee brewing apparatus.
Such means are, generally speaking, well known in the prior art. As to coffee bean dispensers, see, for example, U.S. Pat. No. 2,827,845 issued to S. E. Richeson on Mar. 25, 1958 which discloses means for delivering a preselected volume of whole coffee beans to a grinder. This device contains an adjustable sidewall for delivering beans from an intermediate chamber to a grinder which is operated manually by a see-saw arm to close an upper plate to seal off a hopper from the chamber while opening a lower plate to release a measured quantity of beans from the chamber to the grinder and vice versa. See also U.S. Pat. No. 3,967,546 issued to S. Cailliot on Jul. 6, 1976; U.S. Pat. No. 4,188,863 issued to L. Grossi on Feb. 19, 1980; and U.S. Pat. No. 3,327,615 issued to W. S. Swan on Jun. 27, 1967 which disclose still other examples of devices for the precision metering of coffee beans to grinders.
As to ground coffee metering apparatus, see U.S. Pat. No. 4,779,521 issued to W. L. Brumfield on Oct. 25, 1988. In this system, a brewing receptable is removably connected to a U-shaped plate so as to be movable with the plate as the latter slides back and forth to meter out ground coffee. The coffee is dispensed from a hopper through a vertical chute onto the sliding plate and spills under a vertically adjustable forward plate or lip into the receptacle. A knob is used to raise and lower the lip to increase or decrease the rate of flow of the coffee as it spills into the receptacle. A tension spring biases the sliding plate and receptacle toward a forward position in the housing of the system. The receptacle handle is manually pushed rearwardly in opposition to the spring bias to meter coffee into the receptacle.
These prior art assemblies are relatively complex in construction. Also, they do not make allowance for the bridging of coffee across an outlet caused by the flow resistance of either ground or whole bean coffee which is expressed in terms of the angle of repose thereof. Moreover, none of these systems are adapted to operate in conjunction with modern coffee grinders which are adapted to operate for a predetermined period of time after starting through the use of well known grinder timing circuits.
By means of my invention, these and other difficulties encountered in prior art whole bean and ground coffee dispensing for metering selected quantities thereof to a grinder or brewer apparatus, respectively, are substantially overcome.
It is an object of my invention to provide a novel coffee bean carrier member for use in a coffee grinder assembly for delivering a predetermined volume of beans to a grinder of the assembly.
It is a further object of my invention to provide means for delivering a predetermined quantity of ground coffee from a ground coffee source to a brewing means such as a brew basket or the like.
It is yet another object of my invention to provide a coffee bean and ground coffee carrier member for delivering a predetermined volume of either coffee beans or ground coffee to a grinder or brew basket, respectively, wherein the volume can be changed.
It is also an object of my invention to provide a coffee bean carrier member for a coffee grinder assembly for delivering a predetermined volume of beans to a grinder while, at the same time, operating means for activating the grinder.
Briefly, in accordance with my invention, there is provided a coffee bean proportioning means for a coffee grinder assembly which includes a housing and a motorized grinder disposed in the housing which defines an inlet port for receiving whole beans to be ground. The assembly also includes a bean hopper mounted on the housing which defines an outlet port and a bean carrier member defining a chamber therein for storing a predetermined volume of beans. The member contains an inlet aperture and an outlet aperture and is disposed in the housing for linear movement between a first position wherein the chamber communicates with the hopper through the inlet aperture and is isolated from the grinder and a second position wherein the chamber communicates with the grinder through the outlet aperture and is isolated from the hopper. Lastly, the assembly includes means for moving the member between the first and second positions.
These and other objects, features and advantages of my invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art from the following detailed description and attached drawings upon which, by way of example, only a preferred embodiments of the invention is explained and illustrated.
FIG. 1 shows a front elevation view of a grinder assembly for grinding both regular and decaffeinated coffee beans which includes a pair of volume adjustable bean carrier members with a portion of the front cover of the assembly torn away for internal viewing purposes, thus illustrating a preferred embodiment of my invention.
FIG. 2 shows a partially full and partially cross-sectional elevation view of the grinder assembly and bean carrier members of FIG. 1 with the cross-sectional portion being as viewed along cross-section lines 2--2 of the latter figure.
FIG. 3 shows a cross-sectional plan view of the bean carrier members of FIGS. 1-2 as viewed along cross-section lines 3--3 of FIG. 2 and with certain missing parts of FIG. 2 replaced.
FIG. 4 shows a cross-sectional elevation view of a portion of the grinder assembly and bean carrier members of FIGS. 1-3 as viewed along cross-section lines 4--4 of FIG. 3 and with certain missing parts of FIG. 3 replaced.
FIG. 5 shows a perspective view of the bean carrier members of FIGS. 1-3.
FIG. 6 shows a perspective view of one of the tiltable end plates contained in the bean carrier members of FIGS. 1-5 for permitting adjustment in the volume of whole beans to be carried in the members.
FIG. 7 shows a perspective view of a sloping floor disposed in each of the members of FIGS. 1-5.
Referring now to the drawing figures, there is shown, in one preferred embodiment of my invention, a coffee grinder assembly 2 which includes a housing 4, a motor operated coffee grinder 6 of any suitable type disposed in a lower end portion of the housing, and a coffee bean storage hopper 8 formed in an upper end portion of the housing. The grinder 6 is positioned so as to deliver ground coffee into a conventional brew basket 10 which is removably connected by means of runners or channels 12 to an underside of the housing 4. When filled with the desired amount of ground coffee, the brew basket 10 can be manually withdrawn from the channels 12 and placed in a coffee brewing apparatus, not shown, for brewing of the coffee, in the usual, well known manner.
The assembly 2 also includes a pair of coffee bean carrier members 14a and 14b, each of which define a chamber 16 (FIG. 2) adapted to hold a predetermined volume of beans delivered through an inlet aperture 18 from an outlet port 20 of the hopper 8. Each of the carrier members 14a and 14b also define an outlet aperture 22 located in a sloping floor 23 preferably below its respective inlet aperture 18 for delivering coffee from the chamber 16 to an inlet hopper or port 24 of the grinder. While the inlet and outlet apertures 18 and 22 can be transversely offset from one another if desired, placing them in vertical alignment as in the present example facilitates cleaning and visual inspection of the interior of the members 14a and 14b. The negative slope of the floor 23 of each of the members 14a and 14b and the valleys between them should be at least be as great as the angle of repose of the type of coffee beans to be used in the chamber 16 to promote flow of the beans out of the chamber 16 to the grinder 6 when desired. Since the angle of repose of oily whole coffee beans is typically about 22 degrees, I recommend that the negative angle of slope of the valleys of the floors 23 be at least that great. To accomplish this minimum angle of slope of the valleys, the broad surfaces of the floors 23 should preferably be on a negative angle of slope of at least 30 degrees. The members 14 are slidably mounted in a container assembly 26 which is, in turn, connected to and suspended from a lower end portion of the hopper 8.
The members 14a and 14b are in the form of elongated boxes of rectangular cross-section and are slidably disposed on a floor of the container 26 between side walls 28 and a dividing wall or partition 30. The container 26 is connected to and suspended below the hopper 8. The outlet port 20 and the interior of the hopper 8 are divided into two sections by a vertically extending dividing wall 32 so that both regular and decaffeinated coffee beans can be separately stored and selected for grinding and brewing as desired. A floor 34 of the container 26 defines a rectangular opening 36 over the grinder inlet hopper 24. The opening 36 is transversely offset from the hopper outlet port 20 such that when the members 14a and 14b are in a first retracted position as shown in full in FIG. 2, the hopper outlet port 20 registers with the inlet apertures 18 so that beans will flow into the chambers 16. In this first retracted position, the chamber 16 communicates with the hopper 8 while the outlet apertures 22 of the members are completely out of registry with the container opening 36, whereby the chambers 16 are isolated from the grinder inlet port 24.
By pushing either of a pair of plungers 38 inwardly to a position as shown in phantom at 38' in FIG. 2, the corresponding member 14a or 14b will be moved longitudinally rearward in the housing 4 to a second position wherein its corresponding outlet aperture 22 registers with the opening 36 to dump a predetermined volume of beans from the chamber 16 into the grinder inlet hopper 24. Whenever one of the outlet apertures 22 is in communication with the grinder inlet hopper 24, the corresponding inlet aperture 18 should be completely out of registry with the hopper outlet port 20, whereby the corresponding hopper 8 and chamber 16 will be isolated from one another.
The volume of the chambers 16 may be of any predetermined fixed size as desired in order to obtain the desired portion of ground coffee from the grinder 6 for brewing in the basket 10. However, it is particularly advantageous to be able to vary the volume of the chambers 16 to suit the needs of different users as, for example, when grinding different kinds of coffee in successive batches or when providing different batches of ground coffee for brewing at different strengths. This is accomplished in the present example by means of a pair of tiltable end walls 40 located in each of the members 14 on opposite sides of the vertically aligned inlet and outlet apertures 18 and 22. Each of the end walls 22 are tiltable or pivotal about pivot pins 42 which extend through outside and inside flanges 44a and 44b and sidewalls 46 of the members 14a and 14b. Pins 48 located below each of the pivot pins 42 are fixedly attached to each of the flanges 44b and extend through a different circular, arcshaped slot 50 in the inner sidewalls 46 of the members 14a and 14b. The pins 48 friction fit within the slots 50 to permit manual adjustment of the inclination of the end plates 40 to change the volume of the chamber 16, whereby the pins 48 will travel along the arc of the slots 50 as the plates 40 are tiltably adjusted. Otherwise, when not being adjusted, the pins 48 hold their positions in the slots 50 by friction to maintain the end walls 40 at the desired angle of tilt. To promote the complete filling of the chambers 16 with beans, I recommend that the acute angle of tilt of the plates 40 relative to horizontal never be adjusted so as to be less than the typical angle of repose of the beans to be carried therein. The upper extent of the slots 50 may be established at this minimum angle relative to horizontal to assure that such an adjustment can not be made.
Referring now particularly to FIGS. 2-3, it will be observed that, as the plunger 38 and member 14a are pushed rearwardly in the container 26 to dump beans from the chamber 16 through the opening 36 into the grinder 6, an upper inside edge portion of the member 14a contacts a lever 52 (FIG. 2) which is pivotally attached on an upper end portion thereof to an upwardly extending rear end portion of the container 26. Such contact forces the free end of the lever 52 to tilt upwardly to depress a spring return grinder motor start switch 54 to activate the grinder 6. Typically, coffee grinders of the prior art utilize a spring return motor start switch as part of a latching and timer circuit, whereby momentary closure of the start switch activates a relay operated latching circuit which maintains an operating potential on the grinder motor until a timer device opens following a preselected time sufficient to complete the grinding operation, even though the start switch has returned to the off position following momentary closure. Latching and timer circuits for accomplishing this result are well known in the coffee grinding prior art and are suitable for use with the grinder assembly of the present example. However, it is necessary when employing such latching and timer circuitry to provide means for disabling the grinder motor activating means or lever 52 following the momentary closure of the switch 54 so that the switch 54 will not remain closed to keep the grinder in operation after the timer circuit opens. Should this happen, the grinder 6 will continue to run so long as one of the members 14a or 14b remains in the full rearward position in the housing 4.
One such disabling means is shown in the present example and includes a coiled spring 56 mounted on a removable back plate 58 so as to project against a rear edge of the dividing wall 30. Under such conditions, the spring 56 is held in a slight degree of compression. Now, as one of the members 14a or 14b moves rearwardly sufficiently to engage the lever 52 to close the switch 54, the spring 56 is further depressed by an inside edge of the sidewall of the member. Upon release of the corresponding plunger 38, the now fully compressed spring 56 expands and urges the member 14a slightly forwardly in the housing 4 sufficient to allow the lever 52 to drop away from and disengage the start switch 54 but not so far forwardly as to interrupt communication between the chamber 16 and grinder inlet port 24 through the opening 36 and the corresponding outlet aperture 22. As a result, the motor start switch 54 is immediately allowed to open following its closure by the lever 52 upon release of the corresponding plunger 38 by the operator.
While the present example of the invention illustrates the use of two bean carrier members in a single grinder assembly, it will be appreciated that only one such bean carrier member may be employed if desired. Similarly, any desired number of such members greater than two can also be employed in a side-by-side arrangement although it may be necessary in that case to employ additional biasing springs such as the spring 56, additional spring return motor start switches wired in parallel with and similar to the switch 54, and additional switch activating means or levers similar to the lever 52 to operate the additional switches. In addition, the invention may be used in association with the newer combination grinder/brewer assemblies now available. Moreover, a bean carrier member of the present example may be used as a means for delivering a predetermined quantity of ground coffee directly to brewing means such as the brew basket 10 provided that the negative angle of slope of the floor 23 and its valleys is adjusted so as to be at least as great as the angle of repose of ground coffee placed in the chamber 16. In the case of a ground coffee metering device, I recommend that the negative angle of slope of the floor 23 be about 45 degrees.
Although the present invention has been explained with respect to specific details of a certain preferred embodiment thereof, it is not intended that such details limit the scope and coverage of this patent otherwise than as specifically set forth in the following claims.
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|U.S. Classification||222/307, 222/362, 99/289.00R|
|International Classification||A47J31/42, A47J42/50, G01F11/18|
|Cooperative Classification||A47J31/42, G01F11/18, A47J42/50|
|European Classification||G01F11/18, A47J31/42, A47J42/50|
|Feb 2, 1998||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 8
|Mar 8, 2002||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 12
|Oct 9, 2003||AS||Assignment|
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