What do you think when you hear them say Instant coffee? They sure come to mind: easy, fast, low price, no coffee maker needed. Bingo! It is the opportune solution to prepare your cup of coffee in any event.
At least that’s how I use it, who is passionate about coffee. Others will say that instant, soluble or crystal coffee, as it is also known, may well be consumed daily.
However, I like to pamper my palate and enjoy the world of coffee in all its expressions of flavours, textures and aromas; elements that are fleeting in a soluble coffee.
In this article the main characteristics, how it is made, differences with ground coffee, and some recognized brands to try.
What Is Instant Coffee?
Instant coffee is made from dry coffee extract, in such a way that it only needs to be dissolved into water to be brewed.
You can find it in the form of powder or granules, packed in glass jars, cans, or envelopes.
Today instant coffee represents 25% of what is consumed in the world. This way of producing coffee became known during the First World War since it was part of the soldiers’ rations.
Then, in the 60s, thanks to the freeze-drying method, they managed to improve and better preserve the aroma and flavour of the coffee thus, helping to spread its use, as it is easier and faster to prepare.
Not to mention, it is also the cheapest way to make coffee. Since it is largely made with the Robusta variety, it is higher in caffeine than any other single-origin arabica coffee or blend that includes the latter variety.
Likewise, due to its processing, it supports adverse storage conditions. According to the ICO, instant coffee represents 9.1% of the coffee transported worldwide. 37% of it is consumed in Europe, 12% by China and 11% by the United States.
In other words, instant coffee is a highly valued product in the coffee industry’s economy.
Instant Coffee: Is It Bad?
Does instant coffee have the same benefits for your health? Originally yes, unless it is subjected to a chemical process that alters or adds other substances that really endanger health.
According to studies carried out like normal coffee, soluble coffee maintains its antioxidant properties, contains less caffeine, although it does contain more acrylamide.
Acrylamide is a harmful chemical that is generated when roasting coffee and its presence is doubled in instant coffee. However, in parts so tiny that they are not a cause of danger for consumers.
However, I remain certain that instant coffee retains the great health benefits that a cup of coffee brings. Although there are indeed healthier coffees out there.
Instant Coffee Vs. Ground Coffee
The truth is that it is a rivalry without argument more than the consumer’s decision in their preference. Well, as I explained earlier, instant coffee and ground coffee simply come from the same coffee beans. They just differ in how they have been processed after being roasted.
Instant coffee always tastes the same every time you make it. You only need to pour hot water over tablespoons/grams of granulated coffee.
The results are infinite. For example, for a coffee with a good body and aftertaste, use your French press, coffee maker. For sweeter, less acidic notes, try extracting with a filter or drip coffee makers.
Not to mention that a good espresso can have countless recipes like cappuccino, affogato, Irish coffee, black coffee, among many others.
How is instant coffee made?
There are two procedures:
1 – Drying by aspersion or pulverization
The drops of the coffee already extracted fall and are dried against a current of hot air. Thus becoming a fine powder, which is then textured to improve dosage and dissolution.
In this process, a large part of the aroma and flavour is preserved because it is very fast.
2 – Cold drying or lyophilization
It involves vacuum freezing the coffee extract at about -40 ° C, and then granulating it.
And It’s been prepared in this way:
- It’s very easy: add the dose of instant coffee granules or powder indicated on the package (usually one or two teaspoons); it also depends on your taste, if you prefer stronger or lighter.
- Add hot water, mix it and it’s ready to drink. The taste will not change its flavour at all, even if you add more or less.
In particular, I have seen those who usually do it in two steps that seem very convenient.
First, mix the soluble coffee with very little water in the cup and whisk it vigorously until it forms a frothy cream.
Then, add the hot water to complete the cup, leaving a pleasant and foamy effect.
I am an Italian coffee lover that pushed for the love of this “amazing drug” decided to come to London to study about coffee and its different extraction procedures and tastes.