Title:
Container having a Changeable Sealed Volume
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A container (10) having a base (11), a lid (12) and a press (14). The base (11) and the lid (12) are removably connectable together to define an interior space. With the base (11) and the lid (12) connected together, the press engages the inside surface of the base (11) to form a substantially sealed chamber (32) within the interior space. The press (14) is movable within the interior space to change the volume of the chamber (32) through relative rotation between at least two of the base (11), the lid (12) and the press (14).



Inventors:
Loukeris, Peter (Melbourne, Victoria, AU)
Application Number:
12/866879
Publication Date:
02/03/2011
Filing Date:
02/11/2009
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
220/288
International Classes:
B65D41/04; B65D51/16
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
VAN BUSKIRK, JAMES M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FAIER & FAIER P.C. (CHICAGO, IL, US)
Claims:
1. A container having: a base, a lid, a press, the base and lid being removably connectable together to define an interior space, with the base and lid connected together, the press engages the inside surface of the base to form a substantially sealed chamber within the interior space between the press and the base, the press being movable within the interior space to change the volume of the chamber through relative rotation between at least two of the base, the lid and the press.

2. A container according to claim 1, wherein the press is movable relative to the lid to change the volume of the chamber.

3. A container according to claim 2, wherein the press is threadably connected to the lid, such that with the base and lid connected together, relative rotation between the press and the lid causes movement of the press within the interior space and a change in the volume of the chamber.

4. A container according to claim 1, wherein the lid is movable relative to the base to shift the press within the interior space and to change the volume of the chamber.

5. A container according to claim 4, wherein the lid is threadably connected to the base, such that relative rotation between the lid and the base causes movement of the press within the interior space and a change in the volume of the chamber.

6. A container according to claim 4 or 5, the press being connected to the lid and the lid being connectable to the base through a threaded arrangement, the threaded arrangement comprising a main thread formed on one of the base and the lid and a thread engagement portion provided on the other of the base and the lid, the main thread including a slot extending lengthwise through the thread for passage of the thread engagement portion through the main thread, the arrangement being such that the thread engagement portion can be moved through the slot to a position at which threaded engagement with the main thread is required, whereafter the lid can be rotated relative to the base to threadably engage the thread engagement portion with the main thread.

7. A container according to claim 6, the main thread including at least two lengthwise extending slots and the threaded arrangement including a thread engagement portion for each slot.

8. A container according to claim 7, the main thread including three lengthwise extending slots, generally spaced equidistantly apart and the threaded arrangement including three thread engagement portions being one portion for each slot.

9. A container according to any one of claims 6 to 8, the main thread comprising a multi-start thread.

10. A container according to claim 9, the multi-start thread being a four start thread.

11. A container according to any one of claims 6 to 8, the main thread comprising a plurality of non-continuous threads.

12. A container according to any one of claims 6 to 11, the threaded arrangement permitting further movement of the lid relative to base after the thread engagement portion has threadably engaged the main thread by rotation of the lid relative to the base.

13. A container according to any one of claims 1 to 3, wherein the lid is connectable to the base at two lengthwise spaced apart positions, the connection at the first position providing a first interior space volume and the connection at the second position providing a second interior space volume which is reduced compared to the first interior space volume.

14. A container according to claim 13, wherein the first interior space volume is about twice the volume of the second interior space volume

15. A container according to claim 13 or 14, the lid including a pair of coaxial wall portions which define an annular cavity into which the wall of the base extends, the base being positioned relative to the lid by engagement of the base wall within the annular cavity at least two positions of engagement within the annular cavity

16. A container according to any one of claims 13 to 15, the connections at the first and second positions comprising a projection extending from one of the lid and the base, which is received within a recess provided in the other of the lid and the base.

17. A container according to claim 16, the projection being inserted into the recess by relative rotation between the lid and the base.

18. A container according to claim 17, the projection being a frictional fit within the recess.

19. A container according to any one of claims 1 to 18, wherein the engagement between the press and the inside surface of the base permits escape of air from within the chamber as the volume of the chamber reduces upon movement of the press within the interior space relative to the base.

20. A container according to any one of claims 1 to 19, wherein the engagement between the press and the inside surface of the base permits ingress of air from outside the chamber as the volume of the chamber increases upon movement of the press within the interior space relative to the base.

21. A container according to any one of claims 1 to 20, the container including an exhaust opening for exhaust of air within the chamber as the volume of the chamber reduces upon movement of the press within the interior space relative to the base.

22. A container according to claim 21, the exhaust opening permitting ingress of air into the chamber as the volume of the chamber increases upon movement of the press within the interior space relative to the base.

23. A container according to claim 21 or 22, the opening being closable by a plug.

24. A container according to any one of claims 21 to 23, the opening extending through the press and opening to atmosphere.

25. A container according to any one of claims 21 to 24, each of the opening and the plug being elongate.

26. A container according to any one of claims 22 to 25, the opening including a valve which permits escape of air from within the chamber as the volume of the chamber reduces upon movement of the press within the interior space relative to the base and which substantially resists ingress of air into the chamber through the opening.

27. A container according to claim 26, wherein the valve is operable to allow selected passage of air into and out of the chamber.

28. A container according to any one of claims 21 to 27, the opening including a filter to resist ingress of matter within the chamber into the opening.

29. A container according to any one of claims 1 to 28, each of the base and the lid being cylindrical.

30. A container according to any one of claims 1 to 29, wherein the base, the lid and the press are coaxially aligned when the base and lid are connected together.

31. A container having: a base, a lid, a press, the base and lid being removably connectable together to define an interior space, with the base and lid connected together, the press engages the inside surface of the base to form a substantially sealed chamber within the interior space between the press and the base, the press being movable within the interior space to change the volume of the chamber by a linear arrangement.

32. A container according to claim 31, the linear arrangement including a ratchet and pawl mechanism having a ratchet member which extends through the lid and which is in cooperation with a pawl which is associated with the lid, the ratchet and pawl mechanism allowing the press to be moved relative to the lid in a first direction within the interior space to reduce the volume of the chamber and to be locked in position by the pawl engaging with the ratchet member, and allowing the press to be moved relative to the lid in a second direction, opposite to the first direction, by disengagement of the pawl from the ratchet member.

33. A container according to claim 32, the pawl being biased towards a position of engagement with the ratchet member.

34. A container according to claim 32 or 33, the ratchet member extending centrally through the lid, generally axially of the base.

35. A container having: a base, a lid, a press connected to or formed part of the lid, the base and lid being removably connectable together by slidable engagement of the lid with the inside surface of the base, with the base and lid connected together, a substantially sealed chamber is formed between the lid and the base and the lid and the press are secured in place relative to the base, the circumference of the lid being expandable and contractable to permit the lid to be disengaged from the inside surface of the base so as to be movable within the interior space to change the volume of the chamber and to remove the lid from the base.

36. A container according to claim 35, wherein the lid is of a flexible material that in a relaxed state, is of a size to engage the inside surface of the base sufficiently to hold the lid and press in place relative to the base and wherein an actuator is employed to distort the flexible material in a manner to withdraw the lid from engagement with the inside surface of the base, or at least to reduce the engagement force, so that the lid and press can be moved within the base.

37. A container according to claim 36, the actuator includes an arrangement to apply an axial force to the lid which retracts the circumference of the lid radially.

38. A container having: a base defining an interior space and a press, the base and press being removably connectable together and in that connected condition, the press engaging the inside surface of the base to form a substantially sealed chamber within the interior space of the base, the press being movable within the interior space to change the volume of the chamber through relative rotation between the base and the press.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to containers for the storage of substances, in particular granular, ground or powdered substances, such as coffee.

The present invention has been developed principally for the storage of ground or granular coffee, and it will therefore be convenient to describe the background of the invention with that foodstuff in mind. However, it is to be appreciated that the present invention has wider application beyond coffee, and beyond foodstuffs, such as for the storage of medications or chemicals for example.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Improper storage of coffee grindings or granules can reduce the flavour and aroma of the coffee. Several different options for storage of coffee are available, including coffee containers, such as plastic, glass or metallic containers, or flexible storage bags. However, these options often allow exposure of the coffee to air even when the container is closed.

It is generally accepted that exposure to air is a significant factor in the degradation of coffee. Accordingly, coffee storage containers generally attempt to minimise the amount of air to which the coffee is exposed. Attempts in the past have involved airtight containers. In some forms, these involve plastic, glass or metallic containers which have an airtight closure and which prevent the coffee within the container being exposed to air other than to the air that is retained within the container.

Such containers can include means to create a vacuum within the container, and while that reduces the air exposure further, there nevertheless remains an amount of air that is not removed.

Other solutions involve storing coffee in vacuum sealed flexible containers such as aluminium foil containers that are vacuum sealed when the coffee is packaged. This latter solution provides by some standards, acceptable storage for coffee during transport and sale, but once the container is opened, the coffee is generally again subject to exposure to any air that remains within the container when it is subsequently closed. These types of containers sometimes include a resealable opening, so that air can be expelled prior to resealing, but the operation of resealing is often difficult and requires some manual dexterity. Otherwise, these containers are often just folded over, which provides very little barrier to the ingress of air into the container.

EP 0638274 discloses a storage container for coffee powder, which includes a main vessel that is closed by a lid and a spring biased plate that is biased into engagement with the coffee in the container. The container includes a discharge opening in the base of the vessel. The plate engages and seals against the inside surface of the vessel and compresses the coffee, urging it towards the discharge opening.

The container of EP 0638274 can limit the amount of air to which the coffee is exposed, by sealing against the inside surface of the vessel and by removing air above the coffee. Also, by applying pressure to the coffee, the coffee is compressed, thereby expelling air from the coffee. However, the construction of the container does not allow removal of the coffee in the normal manner through the top of the container, but rather, coffee is removed through the discharge opening, which itself adds a complication and cost to the container and a component that could allow for air ingress, while it also requires cleaning. For the foregoing reasons, the container of EP 0638274 is considered to be for commercial use rather than domestic use.

Moreover, as the volume of coffee within the container of EP 0638274 diminishes, so does the biasing load on the coffee, so that as the volume decreases, the likelihood of air exposure increases due to the reduced tendency to expel air from the coffee.

Given the above described difficulties in maintaining ground or granular coffee in good condition, some revert to purchasing coffee beans and grinding the beans just prior to brewing the coffee. While this results in fresher coffee for brewing, the downside is that the coffee is more time consuming to make and results usually in more mess and waste.

It would be desirable to provide a container which overcomes or at least alleviates one or more of the foregoing disadvantages.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides a container having:

    • a base,
    • a lid,
    • a press,
      the base and lid being removably connectable together to define an interior space,
      with the base and lid connected together, the press engages the inside surface of the base to form a substantially sealed chamber within the interior space between the press and the base, the press being movable within the interior space to change the volume of the chamber through relative rotation between at least two of the base, the lid and the press.

A container according to the invention advantageously is simple to operate and can be arranged to cause the press to engage the foodstuff within the chamber in order to apply a compressive load to the foodstuff. As will be appreciated, applying a compressive load to a foodstuff can operate to expel air from both around the foodstuff and potentially from the foodstuff itself. As will further be appreciated, this is particularly advantageous when the foodstuff is coffee.

The potential to bring the press into engagement with the foodstuff so that air that would otherwise reside above the foodstuff towards the lid can be expelled, distinguishes the invention from containers which simply have a lid that closes at the same position each time, and which allows a layer of air to always reside between the foodstuff and the lid. A container according to the invention can thus provide benefits over existing containers, particularly those used for containing coffee, by minimising the exposure of the coffee to air, which can result in the coffee retaining its freshness, aroma and flavour for longer.

A container can be so arranged so that the press is movable relative to the lid to change the volume of the chamber. For this, the press can be threadably connected to the lid, such that with the base and lid connected together, relative rotation between the press and the lid causes movement of the press within the interior space and a change in volume of the chamber. A particular advantage of this arrangement is that the container is easily operable by simple rotation of the press. A suitable grip arrangement can be employed with the press to facilitate rotation of the press, if it is the press to be rotated rather than the lid, and the grip arrangement can include suitable finger openings or finger lugs for that purpose.

An alternative is to provide the lid as movable relative to the base in order to shift the press within the interior space and to change the volume of the chamber. In this arrangement, the lid can be threadably connected to the base, such that relative rotation between the lid and the base causes movement of the press within the interior space. In this arrangement, the press can be connected to the lid in any suitable manner to move lengthwise with the lid, or indeed the press can be formed integrally with the lid.

In order to increase the speed and convenience of the container when the arrangement is for the lid to be connected through a threaded arrangement to the base so that the lid is rotated relative to the base to position the press within the interior space, the threaded arrangement can comprise a main thread which is formed on one of the base and a lid and a thread engagement portion provided on the other of the base and the lid. It is not important which of the lid and base includes either of these components. However, the main thread can include a slot or slots which extend lengthwise through the thread to allow for passage of the thread engagement portion or portions through the main thread. This arrangement permits the thread engagement portion or portions to be moved quickly through the main thread by passage through the slot or slots, to position the press within the interior space. Thereafter, the lid can be rotated relative to the base to threadably engage the thread engagement portion or portions with the main thread. With that engagement, both the lid and press are secured in position relative to the base, while the amount of rotation required between them is minimised without employing a complicated mechanism.

Any number of slots can be provided in the above arrangement, with the preferred arrangement being two or three slots, which are preferably equidistantly spaced about the base or lid.

The above arrangement can also employ a multi-start thread, with the preferred form of thread being a four start thread where three slots are employed, or a three start thread where two slots are employed. However, two or greater than four start threads can also be employed. Alternatively, non-continuous threads can be used.

In the above arrangement in which slots are employed in a main thread, it is appropriate for the main thread to provide for further movement of the lid upon engagement of the thread engagement portions with the main thread. Accordingly, in this arrangement, the press can be moved close to or into a point of first engagement with the foodstuff within the chamber by movement of the thread engagement portion or portions through the slot or slots of the main thread. Thereafter, rotation of the lid relative to the base to engage the thread engagement portion or portions with the slot or slots of the main thread causes further but only small movement of the lid and therefore also the press, so that the press can firmly engage the foodstuff.

In some arrangements, it is appropriate for the press to be movable relative to the lid as well as the lid being movable relative to the base. Thus, shifting of the press can occur through movement of any of the base, lid or press relative to each other, so that the position of the press within the interior space can be precisely made. Threaded connection of the press to the lid is considered the preferred connection.

In some arrangements, the connection between the lid and the base can be available at two lengthwise or axially spaced apart positions. This arrangement advantageously can enable the container to adopt two configurations in which the volume of the interior space is different, so that the larger volume can be adopted when the chamber is to be filled, and when a sufficient amount of the foodstuff has been removed, the container can adopt the reduced volume. This enables the container to reduce the extent to which the press has to be moved within the interior space as foodstuff is removed, so that the press can be of a shorter length than otherwise required and so that the container can have a more compact construction.

In the above arrangement, it is preferred that the press be movable relative to the lid to provide adjustment of the volume of the chamber between the two different configurations described above. Thus, major changes in the interior space volume can be made by shifting the lid relative to the base between the two lengthwise spaced apart positions, while further adjustment can be made by movement of the press relative to the lid.

The container can include a lid having a pair of coaxial wall portions which define an annular cavity into which the wall of the base can extend. As discussed above, the base can be positioned lengthwise relative to the lid by engagement of the base wall and this can occur within the annular cavity at at least two axially spaced positions of engagement within the annular cavity.

The connections at the lengthwise spaced apart positions can take any suitable form, but in one form they can comprise a projection which extends from one of the lid and the base which is received within a recess provided in the other of the lid and the base. In one arrangement, insertion of the projection into the recess can be by relative rotation between the lid and the base.

It is preferred that the projection be a frictional fit within the recess, to securely fix the lid relative to the base.

In some arrangements, the engagement between the press and the inside surface of the base permits escape of air from within the chamber as the volume of the chamber reduces upon movement of the press within the interior space relative to the base. This arrangement allows for the expulsion of air from within the chamber, as the press approaches the surface of the foodstuff and is advantageous in eliminating air exposure to the foodstuff.

While the escape of air can occur at the junction between the press and the inside surface of the base, in the alternative or in addition, the container can include an exhaust opening which allows for exhaust of air within the chamber as the volume of the chamber reduces. The opening can extend through the press and can be closable by a plug.

An opening of the above kind can also include a valve, which permits escape of air from within the chamber as the volume of the chamber reduces, but which substantially resists ingress of air into the chamber through the opening. This arrangement therefore permits air to escape as required, but does not allow reintroduction of air after the press has been properly positioned. All of this contributes to reducing the air exposure to the foodstuff in order to maintain the foodstuff fresh. The valve may be arranged to allow air to enter the chamber under certain circumstances, such as during removal of the press from within the interior space to access the foodstuff within the chamber. Thus the one way action of the valve may be disabled under certain circumstances, such as manually by the person operating the container, or it may include a mechanism for providing passage of air in both directions, i.e. into and out of the chamber.

The opening can also include a filter to resist ingress of foodstuff within the chamber into the opening. Where the container is used with ground coffee, the filter can resist the ingress of coffee into the opening so that the seal between the plug and the opening is not fouled.

An alternative to the use of relative rotation between at least two of the base, the lid and the press, is to employ a linear arrangement or at least substantially linear arrangement. In one form of this type of arrangement, a ratchet and pawl system can be employed. In one form of this arrangement, the press can be attached to a ratchet member, such as a rod, which carries or is formed with a ratchet. The ratchet member can extend through the lid and be in cooperation with the pawl. In this arrangement, the ratchet member can be pressed downwardly to shift the press downwardly within the base and away from lid to reduce the volume of the chamber, by ratcheting relative to the pawl. When the pawl has been positioned as required, the pawl will lock the ratchet member in place and the press will be secured in position within the base.

To return the press to a position at or closer to the lid, for example when the container has been filled with a foodstuff and the chamber volume is to be maximised or increased, the pawl can be manually disengaged from the ratchet member to allow displacement of the ratchet member relative to the pawl. By this action, the press can be retracted back to or towards the lid.

The above arrangement is simple and effective in allowing the press to be appropriately positioned within the base, such as against a foodstuff within the container. All that is necessary is for the ratchet member to be pressed downwardly until the press engages the foodstuff. The pawl will then hold the ratchet member and thus the press in place. The lid, ratchet member and press can be removed together for access to the foodstuff, after which they can be reconnected to/within the base. If sufficient foodstuff has been removed, the ratchet member and press can be depressed further, by pressing the ratchet member relative to the pawl, to shift the press downwardly within the base, to engage the press with the foodstuff. The ratchet member will then be locked by the pawl in the new position.

The ratchet member need not extend centrally through the lid, but could extend eccentrically, for example, along one wall of the base.

A further alternative to the use of relative rotation between at least two of the base, the lid and the press, is to secure the press relative to the lid and to allow for the lid and press to shift within the base from the inner end of the base, to at or adjacent the open end. The lid and press can be integrally formed. A mechanism to secure the lid and press within the base can include an arrangement in which the lid or press engages with the inside surface of the base to secure the lid and press within the base. In one arrangement, a mechanism to allow expansion and contraction of the circumference of the lid and or the press can be employed, so that in the expanded condition, the lid and press are secured within the base at the desired position. The mechanism can be employed to contract the circumference when the lid and press are to be removed from the base, to allow access to within base, or to be shifted within the base.

The mechanism can take any suitable form. In one form the lid and press is of a flexible material, that in a relaxed state, is of a size to engage the inside surface of the base sufficiently to hold the lid and press in place relative to the base. In this form, an actuator can be employed to distort the flexible material in a manner to withdraw the lid and press from engagement with the inside surface of the base, or at least to reduce the engagement force, so that the lid and press can be removed from the base. The actuator can include an arrangement to apply an axial force to the lid and press which retracts the lid and press radially. Advantageously, this embodiment allows for substantially full travel of the lid and press through the height or depth of the base.

The present invention also provides a container having:

    • a base defining an interior space and a press,
    • the base and press being removably connectable together and in that connected condition, the press engaging the inside surface of the base to form a substantially sealed chamber within the interior space of the base, the press being movable within the interior space to change the volume of the chamber through relative rotation between the base and the press.

In a container of the above kind, a handle can be connected to the press and can be employed to cause relative rotation between the press and the base.

In one arrangement, the handle and base are connectable together when the press has been positioned within the interior space at the appropriate position. Thus, the operation of the device is to insert the press into the interior space to the desired position and then to engage the handle with the base to secure both the handle and press relative to the base.

Any suitable securing arrangement can be employed between the base and the handle, although in one form, a tongue and groove arrangement can be employed between them. For example, a plurality of grooves can be applied to the outside surface of the base, for engagement by a plurality of tongues which extend from the handle. The grooves can extend for only a portion of the outside surface of the base, so that only when the press has been correctly positioned within the interior space is the handle engaged to the base. Alternatively, the grooves can extend for a major portion of the outside surface of the base with a slot extending through the grooves to allow insertion of the tongue or tongues into the grooves. Clearly, the grooves can be applied to the handle while the tongues can be applied to the outside surface of the base.

It is to be understood that any suitable material can be used for the container and its components. Suitable materials for the base for example include plastic, metal and glass.

Moreover, operation of the container can be manual or can be motorised.

Still further, the threads referred to above can have any suitable form, although rough rather than smooth threads are considered to be appropriate.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The attached drawings show an example embodiment of the invention of the foregoing kind. The particularity of those drawings and the associated description does not supersede the generality of the preceding broad description of the invention.

FIG. 1 is a side perspective view of a container according to one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2 is a part cross-sectional view of the container of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is an exploded view of the container of FIG. 1.

FIGS. 4A to 4D illustrate the container of FIG. 1 in four different configurations.

FIG. 5 is a detailed illustration of the bottom corner of the seal of the container of FIG. 1.

FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional exploded view of the container of FIG. 1.

FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional side perspective view of a container according to another embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 8 is a detailed view of the filter arrangement of the container of FIG. 7.

FIG. 9 is a side view illustrating the base of the container of FIG. 7.

FIG. 10 is a cross-sectional side perspective view of a container according to a further embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 10A is a cross-sectional side perspective view of a container according to a further embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 11 is an exploded view of the container of FIG. 10.

FIG. 12 is a cross-sectional exploded view of the container of FIG. 10.

FIGS. 13 and 14 show thread arrangements for use in the present invention.

FIG. 15 is a cross-sectional view of a container according to a further embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 16 is a side perspective view of a container according to a further embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 17 is a cross-sectional view of the container of FIG. 16.

FIG. 18 is a cross-sectional view of a container according to a further embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 19 is a cross-sectional view of a container according to a still further embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a side perspective view of a container according to one embodiment of the invention. FIG. 1 shows a container 10, which has a base 11 and a lid 12. In FIG. 1, the base 11 and the lid 12 are shown assembled, in which the wall 13 of the base 11 extends into the lid 12.

The lid 12 is open at each end, with one end of a press 14 being visible through one open end of the lid 12 in FIG. 1. The press 14 is threadably connected to the lid 12. The press 14 includes a pair of lugs or projections 15 which are provided for rotating the press 14 relative to the lid 12. The lugs 15 are spaced apart to accommodate an end 16 of a plug, which extends through the press 14 to close an exhaust opening. This arrangement is more fully apparent from FIG. 2 and reference will now be made to that figure.

FIG. 2 is a part cross-sectional view of the container 10 of FIG. 1. In this cross-sectional view, it can be seen that the lid 12 includes a pair of coaxial wall portions 17 and 18 which are spaced apart radially to define an annular gap G which opens downwardly. A portion of the wall 13 of the base 11 is shown received within the gap G.

The lid 12 is connected to the base 11 through a connecting or latching arrangement, which comprises three lugs 20 (which are shown in FIG. 3), which are disposed on the inside surface of the wall portion 18 and which are spaced equally about the circumference of that wall portion. The lugs 20 are received in slot structures 21 (also shown in FIG. 3), by relative rotation between the lid 12 and the base 11. The slot structures 21 can taper (as shown and described later in relation to FIG. 9), to frictionally engage the lugs 20. Clearly other suitable arrangements can be employed to appropriately secure the lid 12 to the base 11, such as snap fastening arrangements or threaded arrangements.

A second set of slot structures 22 is shown in FIG. 3, axially spaced from the slot structures 21. In the arrangement shown in FIG. 2, the lugs 20 are captured in the slot structures 22, so that the wall section W of the base wall 13 (FIG. 3) is received fully within the annular gap G of the lid 12. As will be described later herein, the lugs 20 can alternatively be captured in the slot structures 21 in order to increase the volume of the container 10.

The press 14 is threadedly connected to the lid 12, by a threaded side wall 23 of the press 14 being threadably engaged with the threaded portion 24 of the lid 12.

The arrangement of the container 10 is such that the lid 12 can be connected to the base 11 at either of the two axially spaced apart positions of the slot structures 21 and 22, while the press 14 can be shifted relative to the lid 12 and the base 11, by rotation of the press 14 relative to the lid 12. By this arrangement, the volume of the container 10 can be varied and advantageously, can be made to match the volume of material contained within the container at any particular moment.

FIGS. 4A to 4D show various positions of the lid 12, base 11 and press 14 relative to each other. However, before describing FIGS. 4A to 4D, discussion will return to FIG. 2 in relation to the press 14.

The press 14 includes a flange 28 and a seal 29. With reference to FIG. 3, the seal 29 is a separate component to the press 14, and includes an edge portion 30 for engagement against the internal surface 31 of the base 11. Contact between the seal 29 and the internal surface 31 is preferably such as to create a substantially sealed chamber 32 between the press 14 and the base 11. While the edge portion 30 of the seal 29 can have any suitable configuration, FIG. 5 illustrates one preferred form in which the seal 29 includes a bottom edge 33 which is curved radially outwardly at 33a and downwardly at 33b. When the seal 29 is formed in the manner shown in FIG. 5 and is in engagement with a food substance, such as a coffee, within the chamber 32, the engagement tends to force the bottom edge 33 into firm engagement with the internal surface 31, thus enhancing the integrity of the seal between the press 14 and the base 11.

FIG. 2 illustrates the seal 29 connected to the flange 28, and from that figure, it can be seen that the seal 29 includes a radially inwardly extending annular lip 34 which engages about a top side of the flange 28, and a planar portion 35 which extends substantially across the bottom or front face 36 of the flange 28. This arrangement securely fixes the seal 29 to the flange 28.

The seal 29 can be made of any suitable substance, but the preference is that it is made of a polymeric substance, such as synthetic rubber.

It is to be appreciated that the use of a separate seal 29 as described above is preferred, but that in some arrangements, the flange 28 can directly engage the internal surface 31 of the base 11 without a separate seal. The flange 28 could for example be made of a polymeric substance, such as synthetic rubber, or the entire press 14 could be made of that material. Alternatively, the internal surface 31 of the base 11 can be coated with a suitable material, to allow for direct contact with the flange 28 of the press 14, without the press 14 having to have a seal 29 fixed to the flange 28.

With reference to FIGS. 4A to 4D, operation of the container 10 will be described.

FIGS. 4A to 4D show each of the components of the container 10 assembled together, although it will be appreciated that prior to operation of the container as shown in those figures, it is necessary to disconnect the lid 12 of the container 10 from the base 11, to insert the foodstuff into the interior of the container. This is very easily, quickly and conveniently done, simply by rotating the lid 12 relative to the base 11, to disconnect the lugs 20 from the slot structures 21. By that disconnection, the inside of the base is open and can receive suitable foodstuffs. When the foodstuff has been loaded into the interior of the base 11, the lid 12 can be reconnected to the base 11, again simply and conveniently by aligning the lugs 20 with the slot structures 21 and rotating the lid 12 relative to the base 11.

Referring again to FIG. 4A, this shows the lid 12 connected to the base 11 at the slot structures 21 (FIG. 3). Thus, only a small portion of the wall 13 of the base 11 is received within the gap G and the volume of the interior space of the container 10, i.e. the volume of the base 11 and the lid 12 without the press 14 is at a maximum.

Further, in FIG. 4A, the press 14 is retracted into the interior of the lid 12 the maximum distance, so that the flange 28 of the press 14 is in engagement with the bottom of the wall portion 17 of the lid 12. In the condition of the container 10 shown in FIG. 4A, the chamber 32 is at its maximum volume.

A substance (not shown) such as coffee can be placed within the base 11 and the lid 12 fitted to the base 11 as shown in FIG. 4. In order to expel air from the chamber 32, the press 14 can be shifted within the container 10 as described below, to closely approach the top surface of the substance, or to engage the top surface and even to compress it. This is highly advantageous for coffee and other substances in order to maintain their freshness.

Referring to FIG. 4B, the lid 12 has been maintained connected to the base 11 at the slot structures 21. However, the press 14 has been rotated relative to the lid 12 in a direction to reduce the volume of the chamber 32. In the position shown in FIG. 4B, the press 14 has reached approximately the maximum suitable displacement relative to the lid 12. A stop can be provided to positively indicate the maximum displacement if required. It will be appreciated however, that the lid can be positioned at any point between the positions shown in FIGS. 4A and 4B to accommodate the particular amount of substance within the base 11.

When a further reduction in the volume of the chamber 32 is required due to removal of substance from within the container 10, the form of the container 10 can be changed to that shown in FIG. 4C. In that figure, the lid 12 has been shifted axially on the base 11, so that the lugs 20 of the lid 12 are now engaged with the slot structures 22 (FIG. 3) which are positioned midway of the height of the base 11, rather than the slot structures 21 as is shown in FIGS. 4A and 4B. Further, the press 14 has been rotated rearwardly with respect to the lid 12, to adopt the position relative to the lid 12 of FIG. 4A, so that the flange 28 again engages the bottom of the wall portion 17. By this rearrangement, the chamber 32 of FIG. 4C is approximately the same as that of the FIG. 4B.

Finally, with reference to FIG. 4D, as still further substance is removed from within the container 10, the press 14 has been rotated in a direction to bring the front face 36 of the seal 29, into engagement with the bottom surface 37 of the base 11. The chamber 32 has thus been further reduced from the volume shown in FIG. 4C. FIG. 4D is illustrative of the extent of movement available to the press 14, although in practice, it is not expected to be necessary for the seal 29 to actually engage the bottom surface 37. What is important is that the chamber 32 of the container 10 can be progressively reduced from a maximum in FIG. 4A, to a minimum in FIG. 4D, so that as substance is removed from within the container 10, the space that would otherwise be empty or open can be taken up by the press 14. Moreover, by this arrangement, the press 14 can be made to engage the foodstuff within the chamber 32 to apply a compressive load to the foodstuff and in relation to foodstuffs such as ground or granular coffee, that can have the advantageous effect of expelling further air from within the containers. Containers made principally for coffee storage, can allow a significant compressive force to be imposed so that maximum air expulsion occurs, although this clearly could be suitable for other substances as well.

Further, the transition from the connection of the lid 12 to the base 11 between FIGS. 4B and 4C advantageously enables the container 10 to remain of a compact size. The alternative is to connect the lid 12 to the base 11 as shown at the position in FIG. 4A, and to have a much greater lengthwise extent of the press 14 and while this is within the scope of the present invention, the arrangement of the container 10 avoids the necessity for a press of greater axial dimension than that illustrated. The figures described so far also show a plug 40, which includes the plug end 16, projections 47, a stem 44 and a tapered end 46, and which is provided to close an opening 41 which extends through the press 14. Referring to FIGS. 2 and 6, the press 14 is shown as including an elongate opening 41, which extends fully through the press 14 to open through each end thereof. Additionally, the seal 29 is shown as including an opening 42, which is aligned with the opening 41. The arrangement of the opening is such that as the volume of the chamber 32 is reduced, air within the chamber 32 can exhaust through the opening 41. When the press 14 has been positioned as required at the appropriate chamber volume, the plug 40 can be inserted into the opening 41, through the top end 43 of the press 14 to plug the opening 41 against ingress of air therethrough. This renders the chamber 32 as relatively airtight, which is an advantage for the reasons already expressed in relation to avoiding the spoiling of a substance within the chamber 32.

The stem 44 of the plug 40 preferably is a clearance fit within the opening 41, with contact between the stem 44 and the opening 41 occurring at the bottom end 45 (FIG. 2), of the opening 41, by the provision of a tapering at that end of both the opening 41 and the stem 44. Thus, the tapered end 46 (FIG. 3) of the stem 44 can frictionally engage within the correspondingly tapered bottom end 45 of the opening 41.

To maintain the plug 40 in position, the end 16 of the plug 40 can include projections 47 that are received within slots 48 in each of the lugs 15 (see also slots 248 shown in FIG. 12). The slots 48 are inclined towards the base 11 and thereby tend to force the stem 44 further into the opening 41 as the projections 46 move along the slots 48 away from the open end thereof, until the projections 47 reach the inner end of the slots 48, at which point the slots 48 extend in a direction slightly away from the base 11. By this arrangement, the projections 47 lock into the ends of the slots remote from the open ends and secure the plug 40 in position.

FIG. 7 illustrates another embodiment of the invention and shows a container 100, which is a slightly modified version of the container 10. In the container 100, the arrangement is such that the top end of the press 114 is recessed. Accordingly, the container 100 does not include lugs which project axially above the lid 112 in the manner of the lugs 15 of the container 10.

Another modification of the container 100 compared to the container 10, is that the container 100 includes a filter 101. With reference to FIG. 8, in which like parts from the earlier figures are given the same reference numeral, plus 100, it can be seen that the filter 101 is fitted into the opening 142 of the seal 129, although it could equally be fitted to the press 114 at the inboard end of the opening 141 (see filter 258 in FIG. 10A), in order to resist entry or backflow of substance within the chamber 132 into the opening 141, when the plug 140 is not inserted in the opening 141, such as when the press 114 is being rotated relative to the lid 112 to reduce the volume of the chamber 132. The filter 101 can take any suitable form, such as a two-part construction, which sandwiches a filter medium, such as filter paper. A filter of this kind is illustrated in FIG. 8, which shows a first filter part 102 and a second filter part 103. The respective filter parts 102 and 103 snap-fit together. Sandwiched between the filter parts 102 and 103 is a block of filter paper 104.

Each of the filter parts 102 and 103 include openings 105 to allow passage of air therethrough, while the paper 104 is chosen to be sufficiently permeable to be resistant to passage of solid material through the filter 101, but to allow the passage of air, to allow the air to be exhausted as the press 114 is moved to reduce the volume of the chamber 132.

While FIG. 8 shows the plug 140 in place within the opening 141, it will be appreciated that when the press 114 is being rotated relative to the lid 112 to reduce the volume of the chamber 132, that the plug 140 would be absent from the opening 141, or at least shifted out of a sealing position with the opening 141, or otherwise disabled as described earlier.

The filter 101 is positioned within the opening 142 of the seal 129, by adopting an external periphery of the part 102 that includes recesses into which the facing surface of the opening 142 can enter and thus retain or hold the filter 101. Alternatively, a threaded arrangement could be adopted or any other suitable arrangement, such as frictional arrangement.

Still referring to FIG. 8, a sleeve 106 can be applied to tapered end 146 of the stem 144 to assist the seal between the stem 144 and the surface of the opening 141. The sleeve 106 can be of any suitable material, such as polymeric materials.

FIG. 9 illustrates in more detail, example slot structures for use on the outside surface of the base 11 of the container 10, for engagement with suitable lugs of the lid 20. It should be appreciated that while the slot structures and the lugs are shown applied to the base and lid respectively, they could easily be applied in the opposite manner.

The slot structures 21 include a shallow C-shaped protrusion, which comprises a bottom leg 50, a top leg 51 and an end wall 52. The top leg 51 is inclined from the end wall 52 slightly away from the bottom leg 50. The leg 50 has a slightly greater length than the leg 51 to provide a land for the lugs 20 to engage when the lid 12 is being fitted to the base 11. In FIG. 9, a post 53, which does not project radially from the surface of the base 11 as far as the bottom leg 50, top leg 51 and end wall 52 project, is upstanding from the bottom leg 50, adjacent the opening of the slot structure 21. While any number of slot structures 21 can be disposed about the outside surface of the base 11, in FIG. 9, three slot structures 21 are spaced apart equally about the upper end of the base 11. However, only one of the three slot structures 21 includes the upstanding post 53.

Axially spaced from the slot structures 21, is a further three slot structures 22, which have generally the same configuration as the structures 21, except that the bottom leg 54 is a continuous annular ring which extends fully about the base 11. Otherwise, each slot structure 22 also includes a top leg 55 and an end wall 56. Additionally, like the slot structures 21, only one of the slot structures 22 includes an upstanding post 57.

It will be readily appreciated, that connection of the lid 12 to the base 11 is effected simply by aligning the lugs 20 of the lid 12, with the open ends of either of the slot structures 21 or 22 and rotating the lid 12 and base 11 relative to each other to drive the lugs 20 into the support structures 21 or 22. The tapering of the legs 51 and 55 relative to the legs 50 and 54 respectively, creates a wedge shape within the slot structures 21 and 22, so that the lugs 20 can be frictionally engaged within the slot structures. Moreover, the upstanding posts 53 and 57 serve to resist disconnection of the lugs 20 from within the slot structures 21 and 22. The upstanding posts 53 and 57 are intended to be of a construction which will yield when it is intended to connect or disconnect the lid 12 to/from the base 11, but to provide resistance to disconnection at other times. Alternatively, either the lid or the base can be deformable to allow the lugs 20 to ride over the respective upstanding posts 53 and 57.

The provision of a continuous annular leg 54 in the slot structure 22, is to provide a limiting surface against which the lid 12 cannot be lowered past.

A further embodiment of the invention is illustrated in FIGS. 10 to 12, in which a container 200 is shown having a base 201, a lid 202 and a press 203. In this embodiment, the press 203 is connected to the lid 202 and moves with the lid 202 relative to the base 201. This contrasts with the embodiment of the container 10, in which the press 14 is threadably connected to the lid 12 for shifting axially relative to the lid 12.

The lid 202 includes a main thread 204, which includes three equidistantly spaced slots 205. The slots 205 extend for the full height of the main thread 204, although a lesser extent is acceptable.

The base 201 includes three sets of projections 206 which are dimensioned to fit within a respective slot 205, and to threadably engage the main thread 204. The arrangement of the container 200 is thus that the lid 202 can be lowered on to the base 201, by alignment of the slots 205 with the projections 206 until the appropriate axial position of the lid 202 relative to the base 201 is reached, and at that time, the lid 202 can be rotated relative to the base 201 to engage the projections 206 with the main thread 204.

In the above arrangement, the press 203, which is connected to the lid 202, can be quickly brought into engagement with a substance within the base 201, by quick axial movement of the lid and press relative to the base 201, until such time as the press 203 contacts or is close to contacting the substance. Once the press 203 is in contact or close to contact, relative rotation between the lid 202 and the base 201 engages the projections 206 with the main thread 204 to fix the lid 202 relative to the base 201. The rotational engagement can also slightly further push the press 203 further into contact with the substance, to potentially compress the food substance if the thread is a helical thread.

For convenience, the base 201 and the lid 202 can include suitable markings to show the correct alignment between them to align the projections 206 with the slots 205. See for example the alignment lines 211 in FIG. 11.

In many other respects, the container 200 is operable in a similar manner to the containers 10 and 100 described previously, in as much as the press 203 includes an axial opening 207, within which is received the stem 208 of a plug 209 and the plug includes a tapered end 210 for engagement within a complementary tapered end of the opening 207. A seal 217 is applied to the press 203. A sleeve of the kind shown in FIG. 8, and identified by the reference numeral 106, can also be employed at the tapered end 210.

The container 200 provides a very quick arrangement for connecting the lid 202 to the base 201, with the press 203 quickly positioned to engage the substance contained within the base 201.

The connection between the press 203 and the lid 202 is by an annular recess 214, which receives an annular projection 215 that extends from an inner wall portion 216 of the lid 202. This engagement does not necessarily cause the press 203 to rotate with the lid 202 when the lid 202 is rotated relative to the base 201, however the connection is required to be sufficient to maintain the press 203 in connection with the lid 202. The connection preferably facilitates disassembly of the press and lid to allow for cleaning. Alternative connections to those described could also be suitable, including for example an interference fit. Alternatively, where the geometry of the press and lid allow for cleaning without disassembly, an adhesive can be used to connect the press 203 and the lid 202 together.

A slight variation to the container 200 is shown in FIG. 10A, in which the container 250 includes a base 251 and a lid 252. A press 253 is connected to the lid 252, but the connection differs to that shown in FIGS. 10 to 12, by virtue of the connection being made at an opening 254 in the top part 255 of the lid 252. The actual connection between the press 253 and the lid 252 is made in a similar manner to the connection shown in FIGS. 10 to 12, in which an annular recess 256 is formed in the opening 254 to receive an annular projection 257 of the press 253. Also, the filter 258 is disposed in the press 253, at the inboard end of the opening 259 in the press 253, rather than in the seal 260.

By the arrangement of the container 250, the requirement for the inner wall portion 216 of the container 200 is removed.

In FIGS. 10 to 12, the ends of the threads which terminate at the slots 205 are shown square. In alternative arrangements, the thread ends can be tapered or rounded as shown in FIG. 13. In that figure, projections 220 are shown that would normally be applied to the outside surface of the base 201 of the container 200 for traversal through slots provided through threads 221 which are equivalent to the threads of the main thread 204 of the container 200. As shown in FIG. 13, one end of the projections 220 is tapered, while the other end is rounded. Those ends face complementary shaped ends of the threads 221.

The threaded arrangement of FIG. 13 is such that engagement of the projections 220 with the threads 221 is facilitated by the facing tapered ends, while the rounded ends assist to prevent the projections 220 from being caught on the threads 221, as might occur with square ends.

FIG. 14 illustrates and alternative threaded arrangement, which aims to have a similar effect to the arrangement shown in FIG. 13, however in FIG. 14, the projections 225 are free to enter the threads 226 in the direction D1 with the engagement being facilitated by facing tapered ends, whereas catching of the projections 225 with the threads 226 in the direction D2 is prevented by the closure of the facing ends of the threads 226.

A further embodiment is illustrated in FIG. 15, in which a container 300 includes a base 301, a lid 302 and a press 303. In this arrangement, the press 303 is connected to the lid 302 by lugs 304 engaging within slot structures 305 or 306. This differs from earlier illustrated embodiments, in which the connection of this kind was made between the lid and base, rather than the lid and press.

In the container 300, the lid includes a main thread 307, while the base includes projections 308.

The operation of the container 300 is such that the press 303 is positioned relative to the lid 302 firstly, by inserting the lugs 304 into one of the sets of slot structures 305 or 306, whereafter the main thread 307 of the lid 302 is engaged with the projections 308. Rotation of the lid 302 relative to the base 301 raises or lowers the press 303 within the base 301, and if a significant shift in the position of the end of the press 303 within the base 301 is required, the position of connection between the press 303 and the lid 302 can be changed.

A further container according to the invention is illustrated in FIGS. 16 and 17. The container 400 includes a base 401 and a press 402. An arm 403 extends from the press 402 to a handle 404. An inboard member 405 engages the side wall 406 of the base 401 through a socket and groove arrangement. The grooves 407 are formed in the side wall 406, while the sockets 408 extend from the member 405 and are received within the grooves 407.

In the container 400, the operation is as follows. After a substance has been placed into the base 401, the press 402 is inserted into the base 401 and the seal 409 attached to the press 402 engages the internal surface of the base 401. The press 402 is moved into the base 401 the desired distance, possibly to a position of contact with the substance, and thereafter the sockets 408 are aligned with and inserted into the grooves 407. The handle 404 is then rotated to cause the sockets 408 to move within the grooves 407 and by that mechanism, the press 402 is fixed relative to the base 401. By inclining the grooves slightly, the press 402 can be pushed slightly further into the base 401 as the handle 404 is rotated relative to the base 401.

It will be appreciated from FIGS. 16 and 17, that, like the earlier embodiments, the container 400 includes a plug 411, which in this embodiment includes an interlocking portion 413 that interlocks with the arm 403 at the recess 414 to fix the plug relative to the press 402 and the arm 403, and a filter 412 which can be the same as or similar to the same items described in the earlier embodiments.

FIG. 18 shows an alternative embodiment in which the position of the press is fixed within the base by a ratchet and pawl arrangement.

The container 500 includes a lid 504, a base 505, and a press 506. A seal 507 is attached to the press 506.

The lid 504 is connected to the base 505 by any suitable manner, such as by the arrangement of slot structures and lugs as described in relation to the earlier figures, such as in FIGS. 3 and 6. The ratchet and pawl arrangement comprises a ratchet member 501 and a pawl member 502. The pawl member 502 is biased to the position shown in FIG. 18 by a pawl spring 508. A handle 503 is disposed at one end of the ratchet member 501, while the press 506 and the seal 507 are connected to the opposite end of the ratchet member 501.

Operation of the container 500 is as follows. Once a foodstuff is placed within the chamber 509, the lid 504 can be connected to the base 505 in the manner described earlier in relation to the other embodiments, and the ratchet member 501 can be depressed to bring the press 506 and the seal 507 into engagement with the foodstuff. Depression of the ratchet member 501 is simple and easy, with the pawl member 502 clicking along the ratchet face 510.

When the press 506 has been positioned appropriately within the base 505, further depression of the ratchet member 501 ceases and the engagement between the pawl 502 and the ratchet face 510 maintains the ratchet member 501 in position.

When it is necessary to open the container 500 to access the foodstuff within the chamber 509, the lid can simply be disconnected from the base 505 and each of the lid 504, the press 506, the seal 507 and the ratchet member 501 can be removed.

When the lid is to be returned to the base 505, each of the components discussed above can be returned to the position shown in FIG. 18, with the lid 504 then be reconnected to the base 505. If sufficient foodstuff has been removed from the chamber 509, the ratchet member 501 can be depressed further, by the application of pressure against the handle 503, to bring the press 506 and the seal 507 again into engagement with the foodstuff.

When it is desired to return the press 506 and the seal 507 back to a position adjacent the open end 511 of the base 505, the pawl 502 can be depressed against the biasing influence of the pawl spring 508, to disengage the pawl from the ratchet face 510 and to allow the ratchet member to be shifted relative to the lid 504 in the direction D.

It will be appreciated that the container 500 is simple and easy to use, and is of relatively simple construction.

FIG. 19 illustrates a container 600, which includes a base 601 and a lid/press 602 which includes a seal 603. The lid/press 602 is formed as an integral component and engages the inside surface 604 of the base 601 at the flange 605. The lid/press 602 is recessed radially inwardly of the flange 605, but includes a lip 606 over which the seal 603 engages.

The mechanism to reduce the circumference of the base 601 employs a pair of arms 607. By finger manipulation, the upper ends 608 of the arms 607 can be pressed towards each other and by this mechanism, the opposite ends of the arms 607 are pushed downwards and with these arms fixed to the lid/press 602, such as by a pivotal arrangement, or by receipt within a recess, the lid/press 602 is pushed or distorted downwardly, thus reducing the circumference of the seal 603 either to disconnect the seal 603 from the inside surface 604 or at least to reduce the pressure force on the surface 604. In that condition, the lid/press 602 can be shifted downwardly into the base 601, in order to reduce the volume of the chamber 609, or the lid/press 602 can be removed from the base 601. The flange 605 serves the purpose of alignment of the lid/press 602 within the base 601. Advantageously, this embodiment allows the lid/press 602 and seal 603 to travel substantially the full height or depth of the inside of the base 601.

A container 600 is of very simple and easy to use construction and advantageously permits substantially full travel of the lid/press 602 within the base 601.

There are many variations of a container according to the invention, and in relation to the figures already described, many of the features of the containers 10, 100, 200, 250, 300, 400, 500 and 600 are interchangeable.

The invention described herein is susceptible to variations, modifications and/or additions other than those specifically described and it is to be understood that the invention includes all such variations, modifications and/or additions which fall within the spirit and scope of the above description.