In a coffee processing plant I dealt with they had a sequence of machinery. Large bins of coffee would be brought in from farms. The bins had doors at the bottom you could open.

The bin would be placed above a chute that dropped coffee into another permanent bin. Water would be mixed with the coffee in this bin. Then the mixture would be fed into a machine that removed the skins.

The container in the middle of this would only hold things for very short periods. It was used for transient storage only while processing was running. When the machines were off there was never anything in it. I imagine other assembly lines and processing streams have containers that serve the same purpose. In an electric circuit a capacitor roughly does this -- gather some amount of something from one end, at some point release it to the other end.

Is there a term for this kind of transient container in a processing stream?

It has an input. It has an output. The speed of input and output can each be controlled independently. You can close the output and let it fill up if you want, to be used shortly.

  • Could it be considered a transport? Actually, that is the function it served. Despite being stationary (I assume), it helped to transport the coffee beans between bin and skin-removal machine. Either that or just temporary storage. (In the context of humans, it would be called an airlock.) Or, if the fact that something happens there is important, then perhaps a processing hold. If none of these work, you'll have to provide more details as to what you're looking for. Aug 23, 2018 at 6:18
  • Good point about airlock. Other similar terms for people are waiting room, anteroom, foyer, lobby. I guess a traffic light also serves a similar purpose of gathering people temporarily.
    – bookmoons
    Aug 23, 2018 at 7:06
  • Another place this happens is road construction. Someone stops traffic a short time while a construction vehicle passes. Then they open the gates and let the paused traffic flow.
    – bookmoons
    Aug 23, 2018 at 7:19

1 Answer 1


Considering its function, I'd call it an in-line buffer unit (tank, container).

P.S. Here's an example from a book about processing a different type of product, like coffee cream (Dairy Science and Technology: Principles and Applications):

Later, they are homoggenized and sent to a buffer tank where they are temporarily stored.


  • 1
    Hi Alex. Thanks very much for taking the time out to answer this question. Please consider expanding your answer with further explanation, such as an example sentence or a citation with a source.
    – Lumberjack
    Aug 23, 2018 at 14:59
  • OK, I'm still in search of an example better than the one I've just added.
    – Alex_ander
    Aug 23, 2018 at 15:58
  • Alex - maybe in the context of how digital communications occur - often a buffer memory is used to handle the somewhat intermittent flow of data in a computer system.
    – mike65535
    Aug 23, 2018 at 16:12

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