An Inside Look at the Award-winning Royal Cup Coffee & Tea Processing Facility [PHOTOS]

For more than 120 years, Royal Cup Coffee & Tea has been rooted in its hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. Over the past century, Royal Cup has grown from selling coffee out of a horse-drawn wagon to a major international importer, roaster and distributor of premium coffees and teas.

Recently, in an effort to meet the demand of its rapidly growing consumer base, Royal Cup consulted with the Stellar team on how it could revamp its 40-acre campus to increase production as well as set the industry standard for safety and efficiency.

After extensive analysis and strategic planning, the Stellar team worked on four main projects to prepare Royal Cup’s campus for the future:

  • Building a new facility for green coffee bean receiving, cleaning and storage
  • Expanding and renovating the main roasting and packaging facility by adding roaster, blending, storage and sanitation capacity
  • Adding space to the storage warehouse
  • Building an enclosed bridge between the roasting and packaging facility and the storage warehouse

This cutting-edge project was named the 2019 Manufacturing Innovation of the Year by ProFood World for the use of technology, cost savings, level of automation and economical and environmental efficiencies.

State-of-the-art green coffee bean receiving

A key component to Royal Cup’s current success is its high-tech green bean facility designed and built by Stellar. Here’s a peek inside (and scroll below the photos to read more about the facility’s technology):


Building a brand new green bean receiving facility was critical to streamlining Royal Cup’s processes and creating adequate room for growth. This new building moved green bean reception, cleaning and storage out of the roasting area and into its own space.

This new facility now allows Royal Cup to move the raw beans directly from the receiving dock to the cleaner and into storage — all mechanically. Plus, mechanized scanning inputs the new inventory into their computer system automatically, meaning Royal Cup knows exactly what product they have in stock at any given time.

Stellar incorporated cutting-edge innovations not found in many coffee plants to power this unique green bean receiving facility, including:

  • Telescopic conveyors
  • An automatic slitting machine
  • A custom pipe bridge for bean transport

Telescopic conveyors for green bean unloading

When trailers arrive at the receiving dock, telescoping conveyors drive right into the semi-trailer to begin unloading the green beans. This eliminates the need for manual unloading with a forklift, which significantly reduces the risk of forklift accidents that could injure Royal Cup employees.

Replacing forklifts with telescopic conveyors also eliminates the need for wooden pallets: Burlap sacks of green beans can be moved directly from the trailer into the cleaning process. Not only is this more efficient, but it gives Royal Cup greater flexibility when choosing green bean suppliers — and opting out of pallets can translate into cost savings.

Automatic slitting machine: Safety and efficiency all in one

The conveyor transports the sacks of green beans from the trailer to an automatic slitting machine. Rather than the conventional method of manually cutting the bag open with a knife, this machine effortlessly slits the bag, allows the beans to enter the hopper for cleaning and then disposes of the sack. This limits handling of the product, reducing worker and food safety risks.

Custom piping to reduce bean breakage

Royal Cup’s approximately 40-acre campus is uniquely situated. The green bean facility and storage silos had to be located across the street from the roasters in the existing roasting and packaging facility. To accommodate this geographical challenge, Stellar worked with the original equipment manufacturer to design a custom transport system to minimize bean breakage as they traveled that distance.

Want to learn more about the award-winning Royal Cup facility? Download our case study on the project below.

Download the Royal Cup case study


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