No matter how busy your day gets, you need a daily dose of caffeine to amp up your energy levels.
Since brewing at home or lining up in your favorite cafe takes a great deal of time, you want something that would be available at a much faster rate. This is when instant coffee comes into the picture.
However, before we dive really deep about what makes an instant coffee the best, let’s discuss what exactly this commodity is all about.
What is Instant Coffee
Instant coffee is produced using regular coffee beans. However, the process is a tad different in a way that it is brewed in an industrial processing kit to stimulate as much aroma and flavor as possible.
During this process, the temperature and pressure applied are also regulated to come up with a concentrated version.
Once the brewing is complete, water is then separated from the coffee to bring out the pure coffee extract. This process can be done in any of the following ways:
- Spinning via a centrifugal machine. This machine works by applying force, leaving the heavier coffee extract and eliminating all water content.
- Heat evaporation. Heat is applied in order to make water evaporate in the air and leave behind the coffee extract.
- Freezing coffee. The water-coffee mixture is stored for a period of time in a freezer to dry, removing all of the unnecessary water content.
The end result of these processes is a dried coffee that comes in a granulated or powder form.
Health Benefits of Drinking Instant Coffee
While brewed and instant coffee may not provide you with identical taste, both have the same health benefits according to a myriad of research.
Based on a 2014 study, instant coffee contains caffeoylquinic acids (CQAs), a compound that does wonders in human health.
CQAs are antibacterial, anticancer, antioxidant and anti-allergies, among others. This means instant coffee, especially in recommended amounts, is proven safe for daily drinking.
The coffee’s aroma also helps the body by stimulating the central nervous system. In regular quantities, it could also decrease your chances of getting a liver disease and type 2 diabetes.
Of course, coffee is known to improve alertness, concentration, mood and overall well-being. In addition, it can reduce the risk of depression, as well as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
With regular consumption, it’s also said to prevent stroke and decline in cognition.
A Brief History of Instant Coffee
The instant coffee we know of today is patented in 1881 by Alphonse Allais, a true-blooded Frenchman.
In 1930, the food and beverage giant, Nestle, started developing its own brand of dried, reformed coffee, which they successfully launched in 1938.
Nescafe, as a lot of people know it today, has dominated the coffee market, garnering 70% of sales every year.
Pros and Cons of Drinking Instant Coffee
Like other everyday products, there are pros and cons to instant coffee consumption as well:
One of the most obvious reasons why instant coffee is so popular is its convenience for preparation. It can be easily prepared and consumed anywhere, whether at home, outdoors or at the workplace.
Rich Taste and Flavor
These days, more and more variations of instant coffee are sprouting in the market, which gives coffee lovers tons of choices.
Unlike real brewed coffee, instant versions are way cheaper. This is due to the fact that they are mass-produced by manufacturing companies.
As mentioned above, this coffee offers just as many health effects as brewed coffee. It leaves the body a good dose of antioxidants, which improve the immune system and ward off the risk of serious illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, liver disease and so much more.
Like brewed coffee, excessive amounts of this coffee might cause hallucinations. What’s an excessive amount? About 7 cups a day.
It’s a given that instant coffee can’t offer the same authentic aroma and flavor of brewed coffee. This is due to the way both variants are processed.
The production process lowers down its antioxidant content, so it may not be as potent as brewed coffee in terms of health benefits.
Types of Instant Coffee
While in the coffee aisle, you may have noticed that brands come at varying prices. The ultimate reason for this might be the kind of process they have gone through during production.
To know your options, we’ve listed down the standard types of instant coffee below:
Spray-Dried or Powdered Coffee
Among the high-end variants, spray-dried coffee is deemed the most affordable. This is due to the use of lower-quality beans during production.
Spray drying is actually the more preferred process because it allows bulk production, dries faster and makes round and fine particles as an end result.
The spray-dried coffee’s texture is round and porous. In terms of color, the grounds are usually dark in hue.
Probably the main selling point of freeze-dried coffee is the preservation of flavor profile, aroma and quality as a whole.
Freeze-dried instant coffee is considered the highest-quality type among instant alternatives. In most cases, the manufacturers use fine-quality beans such as Arabica.
Compared to the spray-dried version, the granules of coffee in this category are more solid and not easy to break when rolled between two fingers.
While the shape is normally uneven, you can rest assured that the grains will not disintegrate much like spray-dried brands.
Probably the most common type you’ll find in stores today are those that are enclosed in individual packets.
Apart from being cheaper, they are also very easy to make just about anywhere – whether you are hustling at work, chilling at home or enjoying your time outdoors with family and friends during hiking or camping.
Instant Coffee Powder and Crystals
Coffee powder and crystals are very similar in a way that they are easily dissolvable. However, they come in different forms. Coffee powder is often loose and fine in particles, while crystals come in crystallized chunks of processed coffee.
This crystallization comes as a result of freeze-drying, a method that is used to produce crystal coffee.
While both coffees can be made from the same variant of coffee beans, they are currently available in various blends and origins, depending on the kind of brand you wish to buy.
How to Choose the Best Instant Coffee
As a coffee lover, you want to find the best type of coffee available so you can enjoy your caffeine experience every single time. To do so, look for these key factors the next time you go shopping:
When it comes to quality, Arabica and Robusta get the top spot on the list. While some manufacturers use other bean variants, these types are more commonly grown and cultivated across the globe. If you don’t have any idea which beans to go for, start with these two.
Roasting brings out the aroma and flavor and transforms the beans’ color from green to deep brown. There are various types of roasts including light, medium, medium-dark and dark roast.
Each of these possesses its own special taste and texture, so it will all boil down to your personal taste as to which level of roasting you prefer.
During the roasting process, coffee beans transform from bright green to different shades of deep brown color. Roasting also draws out the beans’ natural oils, turning them from spongy green to brittle, dark-colored beans.
Roast levels vary from light, medium, medium-dark and dark roast. Most American coffee brands are roasted medium, while French and Italian blends are usually dark.
Each roast level has its own taste and texture, so it’s a matter of personal preference as to which one you prefer.
Most coffee brands contain around 27-173 mg of caffeine. Decaf variants, on the other hand, go from 2 to 12 mg of the same.
This means you need to choose accordingly depending on your caffeine tolerance. When in doubt, always check the label of the brand you’re considering.
Additives and Flavors
How you choose the kind of roast greatly impacts the flavors. For example, if you go for a medium roast, you can expect moderate bitterness, while dark roasts are intense.
These days, various flavor enhancers have been incorporated to improve the taste.
Common additives include chocolate, mocha, caramel and the list goes on. Whichever you prefer, it’s your call.
Taste and Texture
Despite not keeping up with brewed coffee in terms of flavor and aroma, there’s no denying that instant coffee is still coffee and when it comes to taste and texture, it does not disappoint.
In the market, you have two options: fine grounds and large granules. However, whatever the choice, your coffee should melt immediately when mixed with hot water.
When it comes to packaging, there are seven options to pick from: doy pack, quad seal bag, flat bottom bag, pillow bag (or better known as sachets), bag in bag, plastic jars and glass jars.
While each option has its own advantages, you need to consider your frequency of making coffee, your storage space and convenience preferences. In most cases, drinkers prefer larger bags and then transfer contents in an airtight container.
However, if you are mostly at work or on the move, pillow bags or sachets would be convenient since they are tiny and lightweight.
The quantity or weight greatly influences the cost. Typically, instant coffee powder is sold anywhere from $0.72 to $1.28 per ounce.
How to Make the Best Instant Coffee at Home
Another great thing about instant coffee is that you don’t really need a coffee maker just to make a hot pick-me-up drink. With just a few simple steps and tools, you can enjoy a warm cup in no time at all.
There are various ways people are using to enjoy instant coffee at home. In general, these are the basic steps:
Step 1 – Pour one cup of water into the kettle or pot and heat up
You could also microwave the water in a microwave-safe container for 1 minute. Use medium-high heat, then remove the water from heat right before boiling.
If you are making coffee for one person, you must heat 240 ml of water. For multiple servings, just add more water using the per-person measurement.
Step 2 – Scoop 1-2 teaspoons of instant coffee
For best results, check the container’s label to see their recommended portions. Usually, manufacturers recommend 1 – 2 teaspoons for 240 ml of warm water. Adjust according to the strength of your chosen coffee.
Step 3 – Mix the coffee with a cold water
Doing this will slowly dissolve the powder, thus bringing in more flavor.
Step 4 – Add the warm water with dissolve coffee powder
Do this carefully, to avoid hot water from splashing. Make sure not to overfill your cup to make room for milk or creamer in case you’re not into black coffee.
Step 5 – Add in flavor enhancers such as sugar or spices
For more richness, add these after adding in the hot water. There are actually tons of options but the most popular flavor options are cocoa powder, allspice and cinnamon. Creamer is also an excellent option.
Step 6 – Add your choice of milk or cream
Usually dairy milk, cream, flavored creamer and almond milk bring richness to any cup of instant coffee. The amount of milk or creamer to add is all dependent on your taste. However, you can always skip this step if you’re a black coffee drinker.
Step 7 – Stir the coffee mixture and serve
Make sure to mix everything thoroughly before sipping or serving it to someone. You’ll know it’s mixed well when the coffee turns uniform in color.
If you wish, you can make an iced coffee instead. Just fill the cup with dissolved powder, half warm water and half cold water, pour over a few chunks of ice and enjoy.
Quick Tips on How to Make Instant Coffee Taste Better
Instant coffee may not be as strong and flavorful as brewed alternatives, but there are a few ways you can do to make it taste better.
- Always dissolve your coffee powder with a spoonful of cold water. Then, pour over hot water until the mixture has dissolved completely. This will improve the flavor and aroma every single time.
- Add the best tasting milk and sugar you know of. This will take away the bitterness and add the creaminess your mouth is craving for.
- Other flavor enhancers you can try to make even better cups are lemon or orange juice, berries, cinnamon, honey, mint, peppermint, ginger and maple syrup.
- You could also purchase coffee syrups for the best results.
Does More Spending Mean More Quality
You already know this, but instant coffee is popular due to its affordability. While there are higher cost brands that are currently making good sales in the market, you don’t really need to spend much just to find the perfect blend.
Now that more and more inexpensive additions are available, you can enjoy your daily cups at a much lower price.
Do’s and Don’ts With Instant Coffee
While making one seems really straightforward, there are certain do’s and don’ts you might want to take note of.
- Do try instant coffee without sugar. If you’re going on a no-sugar diet, omitting sugar from your coffee might be a good move for you. Some coffees are naturally sweet anyway so you might as well give it a shot.
- Do use good water. Coffee is about 97% water, so its quality will determine how your coffee will taste like. Make sure your water doesn’t have any unwanted flavor and heat from 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Do buy small packs of coffee. Sometimes, we buy too much that we can consume coffee within the recommended period of time. To prevent this from happening, buy small packets instead.
- Do consume your instant coffee within 2 weeks. Coffee is best consumed within two days to two weeks after manufacture. While instant brands normally last long, make sure to only buy powders you can immediately use within two weeks to get the best results.
- Don’t reheat. Letting your coffee sit around for 20 minutes will make it taste acidic and rather unpleasing. Since instant coffee is pretty cheap, you can ditch that cold blend and make a new one instead.
- Don’t drink just for the caffeine. Enjoy your coffee in more ways than one. Don’t drink it just because you need a daily dose of caffeine. Coffee is much more than that.
- Don’t steer away from light roasts. Darker roasts tend to remove a lot of nuances. This is why it’s beneficial to explore lighter options and experience what each one offers.
FAQ About Instant Coffee
Is Nescafe instant coffee or real coffee?
Nescafe is a branded instant coffee manufactured by Nestle. It’s been in the market since the 1930s.
Is instant coffee toxic?
Just like other substances, caffeine, when taken in excessive amounts, can be harmful to your health. However, instant coffee generally holds a bit less caffeine than regular coffee.
Because caffeine sensitivity is different from one individual to another, instant coffee could be a better choice for people who need to reduce their caffeine intake.
Can instant coffee upset your stomach?
Too much caffeine can upset the stomach. Nevertheless, if you opt for instant coffee, especially decaf, you won’t have this problem as it contains very little amounts of the C stuff.
Is fresh coffee better than instant?
As mentioned, this coffee contains less caffeine, but more acrylamide than most brewed coffee variants. In addition, it holds almost the same antioxidants.
This means in comparison, instant coffee is a great, low-calorie beverage that provides the same goodness as regular coffee.
What is the best instant coffee machine or maker?
There are tons of coffee machines available online. However, if you look on Amazon, you’ll see the Sboly Single Serve K-Cup and Keurig K55 Machine reviewed positively the most.
How to make the best instant coffee with milk?
Mix 1 spoon of instant coffee powder with 1 spoon of cold water in a mug or cup. Fill ¾ of your container with hot water and add milk. Add sugar, if desired.
Are 3-in-1, 7-in-1, 5-in-1 instant coffee, etc. considered instant soluble coffee?
Yes, though they contain more flavor enhancers such as sugar, cream and whatnot to eliminate the bitterness and acidic taste of the coffee.
When is the best time to consume caffeine?
You might think that caffeine is best consumed in the morning because that’s what we’re accustomed to. Nevertheless, according to research conducted by ASAP Science, doing so will increase one’s tolerance to caffeine.
Therefore, it is suggested that the best time to drink coffee is around 10 am – 12 pm and between 2 pm – 5 pm.
The main good thing about instant coffee is that it is quick and easy to do, even without a coffee maker. Moreover, it has a long shelf life and a lower price tag than regular coffee grounds.
This means you can easily enjoy a warm cup regardless if you’re traveling, commuting or running errands here and there.
Since it has considerably less caffeine, you won’t have to worry much about overconsumption. Best of all, it contains the same health benefits as regular coffee, providing the antioxidants you need to fight off serious diseases daily.
So, go ahead and grab that best pour over kettle and make yourself a cup today. You deserve it!
Photos from: chayathon / depositphotos.com, jirkaejc / depositphotos.com, akulamatiau / depositphotos.com, tata.bru24.gmail.com / depositphotos.com, NikiLitov / depositphotos.com andbegemot_30 / depositphotos.com.