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Instant coffee comes from real coffee beans that are picked green, then roasted. The process involves taking the roasted coffee and turning it into instant coffee using either freeze-drying or spray drying. In the process, the roasted coffee is made into real coffee by adding water and then freeze-dried or spray-dried.
Both methods are used in the production of instant coffee but freeze-drying has been favored in recent years as the method of choice by many coffee makers.
Roasting the coffee
Roasting coffee involves bringing the beans to 165 degrees Celsius or 329 degrees Fahrenheit and then roasting them for roughly 10 minutes. Once the beans have cooled down they are ground into coffee grinds.
These grinds are then turned into coffee by adding water and filtering the coffee. This is where the similarities between regular coffee and instant coffee end. The next process involves removing the water from the coffee.
Through the use of freeze-drying or spray drying, the water is then removed from the coffee. It is through these methods that the instant coffee granules are formed from the liquid coffee.
Freeze drying the coffee has become the most popular way to make instant coffee in recent years. It involves taking the coffee, not just the grounds but the made coffee and freezing the coffee.
It is then broken into crystals and placed on a tray to be warmed in a chamber to remove the water. To keep the quality of the instant coffee high, the water vapor must be released in a timely manner. Once all the water vapor is released, you are left with crystals of coffee.
After this process is complete, you have the remaining instant coffee granules. These granules just have to be added to hot water to return to their former coffee state.
Spray drying involves the coffee liquid being put in a chamber where nozzles with hot air remove the water and turn the coffee into powder.
The process is known as atomization and is effective and less expensive than freeze-drying.
It is found that this method produces an instant coffee of not as high a quality as the freeze-drying method. The spray drying method is not only used to make instant coffee but has many other applications.
In coffee production, it is used to achieve economies of scale not able to be achieved through freeze-drying. By spray drying, the coffee companies can process more coffee and therefore make more instant coffee in less time. The process of spray drying is also widely used in the pharmaceutical industry.
As with both of these methods, the coffee water is removed and you are left with granules. The instant coffee that remains just has to be brought back to regular coffee by adding hot water.
Instant coffee has a longer shelf life than regular ground coffee but can spoil if put into contact with moisture. Either method will produce instant coffee to be enjoyed in the morning by any coffee enthusiast.
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How to brew instant coffee at home?
Now that we know how instant coffee is turned into that dry powder, we can also quickly learn how to turn it back into coffee.
This really only involves one step to complete, and that is to add a specific amount of water to the instant coffee. Each type of instant coffee is going to ask for a different amount of hot water, so make sure to check on that, as you will find the coffee too strong, or too weak depending on how much water you put into it.
A couple things you will need to make your coffee other than the instant coffee would be a good water kettle (this is one of the best out there), and of course your favorite coffee mug (this article we wrote talks about our favorites).
Recommended Instant Coffee?
I have gotten the chance recently to try out some Starbucks Instant coffee, and it was really great! Below are some of the instant coffee I would recommend you should take a look at.
- Starbucks VIA Instant Pike Place Roast Medium Roast Coffee, 8 Count (Pack of 1)
- Starbucks VIA Instant Columbia Coffee – 8ct (Pack of 8)
- Starbucks Via Instant Medium Roast Colombia Coffee, 26Count
Is instant coffee better than regular coffee?
From my experience, instant coffee is an awesome substitute when regular coffee is not an option, however if you have the time, and the gear to make a good cup of coffee with something like an Aeropress, or even a quality drip coffee maker, than it just can’t stand up to those options.
In translation to instant coffee, you are going to lose out on a lot of the delicious oils and textures that a fresh cup of coffee has, making it just not quite as good as the fresh cup.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do people drink instant coffee?
Instant coffee can be frowned upon by coffee enthusiasts, however if you need that quick cup of coffee in the morning, there isn’t anything easier than putting some hot water into a mug with a bit of instant coffee powder. You can generally make a cup of coffee in a minute or so, making this a great alternative to other coffee brewing methods.
Does instant coffee taste good?
Instant coffee has gotten a bad reputation over the years for not having a great taste, however this type of coffee has seen a bit of a reimagining lately, and I have found that instant coffee can taste almost just as good as fresh brewed coffee.
How much does instant coffee cost?
Instant coffee ranges in price just as much as regular coffee will. However I have found that tends to be a bit more expensive than coffee grounds. This is due to the added processes needed to make the product.
Instant coffee has become a more reasonable choice for people that enjoy coffee over the years, with some huge brands getting into the high end instant coffee game.
However this also has brought the question on to many people as to how instant coffee is made! Thankfully in this article we talked about how it can either be freeze dried, or spray dried, while the former is the most popular option for manufacturers of instant coffee.