Instant Coffee Tips to Buy, Enjoy As good as Fresh Brewed

By pjain      Published Oct. 21, 2019, 10:05 a.m. in blog Foodies   

Part of Series Beverages - Teas and Coffees - Series Overview

Instant Coffee 101 - Why?


Sure, Instant Coffee doesn't get any of the respect of traditionally brewed coffee, but it saves you time and money. Instant Coffee is not only much more affordable than a regular whole bean coffee, but it has a fairly decent taste.

Ten+ Minutes to brew a cup of coffee => Keurig 1' or Instant in 10"

There are plenty of reasons to not want to actually make real coffee. It takes like ten minutes and some people (like me until I was 26) are intimidated by the prospect of using a coffee maker.

  • Instead of 10-20' doing a BIG pot, or 5-10 minutes to use your French Press, you can simply use a Keurig pod in 1-2 minutes or using instant coffee in the microvave in 30 seconds.

On the go convenience

Instant coffee is often used on the go and in places where there is no proper kitchen (such as on trains, at drink kiosks, and in offices). With the advent of single-serve instant coffees (such as Starbucks VIA), drinking coffee on the go is easier than ever.

Even if you don't care for a whole cup of instant brew, you can still use instant coffee to add a tasty touch to other drinks like hot cocoa. It can also be used in cooking and baking.

Caffeine Levels

In general, an 8-ounce serving of instant coffee contains 27 to 173 mg of caffeine (most often 65 to 90 mg). A decaf instant coffee usually contains 2 to 12 mg of caffeine.

Here are caffeine levels found in a some popular brands of coffee:

Brand Serving Caffeine
Folgers classic roast instant coffee (2 tbsp. / 12 oz) 148 mg
Maxwell House 100% Colombian (2 tbsp. / 12 oz) 100 to 160 mg
Maxwell House dark roast (2 tbsp. / 12 oz) 100-160 mg
Maxwell House international cafe (all flavors; 2.66 tbsp. / 12 to 16 oz) 40 to 130 mg
Maxwell House master blend (2 tbsp. / 12 oz) 100 to160 mg
Maxwell House original roast (2 tbsp. / 12 oz) 100 to 160 mg
Nescafe instant coffee approximately 65 mg per 6-ounce serving
Starbucks VIA house blend instant coffee (1 packet) 135 mg

Caffeine Levels - the downside

Many people tend to avoid a coffee that contains too much caffeine because caffeine can be addictive.

In addition, there are situations where you want to avoid caffeine altogether like when a woman is pregnant or when a person has been prohibited from consuming caffeine because of medical reasons.

Therefore, it pays to look at the caffeine that your instant coffee contains. If you want to limit your consumption of caffeine, then go with an instant coffee that has 60 grams of caffeine per serving or less.

Additives and Flavors to compensate for lost flavors!

Additive and flavors are substances that are later added to your instant coffee to give it a better taste.

This is because the natural aroma and taste of the instant coffee have been lost during production, especially if the instant coffee is made using the spray-dried method.

Moreover, whether or not you want additives and flavors in your instant coffee is as per your own preference.

SELECT | Airtight Packaging to avoid oxidizing and becoming stale

Since instant coffee comes in small granules and hence, it has a larger surface area. So, you must ensure that the packaging is airtight to prevent the coffee from oxidizing and becoming stale.

SELECT | Tight glass containers far better than paper bags for retaining freshness

It is preferred to go with an instant coffee that comes in a glass container because it is so much easier to store.

If you go with an instant coffee that comes in a paper bag, then you will definitely have two use a secondary container for storage.

Stigma of Instant Coffee - mostly a myth

  1. Many instant coffees used to be made with lower-quality Robusta beans, but today many brands use only Arabica.

  2. High Pressure-Temperature Drying kills Aroma, leads to Stigma of Instant Coffee as not being good enough

  3. The drying process kills the beautiful taste and aroma that you can expect from freshly made coffee.
  4. Also, this process often gives a chemical and bitter flavor
  5. Folgers history hints that diners at a high-end restaurant have to be tricked into drinking it.
  6. instant coffee tastes BAD! I mean it’s just freeze dried garbage that goes against the entire ethos of drinking freshly brewed coffee.

  7. Part is the ritual - a good cup is worth waiting in line for "atmosphere", and french-Austrian snobbishness

  8. Of course it is all useless if you a brain-washed blue-bottle addict or a Starbux "euro-snob" for the experience or atmosphere.

  9. Weaker

  10. Instant coffee also tends to lack body. The drink will feel like it is thin and watered down. Imagine the difference between full-fat and no-fat milk.
  11. Like teas, often need to use 60 degree water not boiling to allow aroma to come out
  12. Also need to stir for 30 seconds. Kind of not advertised on directions for making (as goes against instant pitch), but important.

  13. Practical, Mass-oriented

  14. Instant was mass produced for a quick and easy caffeine hit

  15. Additives mask

  16. Its lack of aroma and whose bitter and acrid taste could be masked with dairy and sweeteners.

Beware of Role of Marketing in fooling people - Teste for yourself

The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing people that K-cups aren't just instant coffee in a little vacuum-sealed plastic cup.

High Quality Instant Coffee properly prepared is Great and Fast!

  • But for all the rest, reasonable quality coffee that can be made with just a splash of moderately hot water (don't have to boil it even!). The simple truth is that the best instant coffee ain’t half bad!

  • Good enough Taste 60% of time - Home brewed coffee 30%, Gourmet/Store 10%

Instant coffee is very quick to brew and the taste not so bad at all. In fact, millions of people use it every day because it is quite tasty.

The black coffee problem - Instant Coffee

Blended Instant Coffees can compete better than black instant coffee as black coffee from roasted brewed pots is able to extract better with the hot water.

  • One solution is to keep the coffee sealed better (buy packs or put in fridge)

  • Another is to have special brewing strategies eg microwave properly

  • Another is to use blended, premixed eg with French Vanilla, semi sweetened or pre-mixed with milk. These blends can compare better with average office or low end store coffees.

ISSUE | Less Caffeine - "Weaker" - Caffeine cycles and half-lives

  • CON | Many Instant Coffees are Weaker coffees. Since they do not provide the elevated caffeine kick - they get blamed and disliked by "pros" used to the spikes and valleys of Caffeine cycles and half-lives

Saves a Lot of Time

Wouldn't it be nice to have a coffee that tastes good but can be prepared in one minute or less?

Saves Money over roasted tea bags

Instant Coffee is not only much more affordable than a regular whole bean coffee, but it has a fairly decent taste.

Saves a LOT of money over Store/Gourmet Coffees

Believe in instant coffee

Not everybody would believe in getting fresh-brewed coffee, through a bag or teaspoon of instant coffee.

However, this is just marketing and ads that have led to first cheap then gourmet European coffee. This narrative is slowly becoming history.

Select taste-tested brands and just sip a cup of coffee!

Careful selection of the right brand, and attention to preparation details. Professional tasters have found that the top 5 finishers in our taste test weren't discernible from regular coffee.

Great for Rapid Iced Coffee

We should also mention that instant coffee is credited as making a pretty decent cup of iced coffee.)

Instant Coffee Tips and Make as Good as most Brews!

Select the Instant Coffee - not just by brand!

If you also want to get the best tasting instant coffee, it is important to choose an instant coffee from a quality brand.

Taste many different kinds!

Don't buy in bulk

  • Another problem in bulk buying (eg Costco) is you end up keeping it for many months esp. after opening. This will end up making coffee stale.

Pay more for Freeze-Dried - still saves LOTs over brewed and store-bought

Avoid additives - generally mask lack of aromas and staleness of coffee

Avoid packs, satchets - just cost more

Treat the Jar of Coffee Gently and Airtight!

Keep the Jar closed tightly, and store it in a cool place - or even in the fridge! This prevents the coffee from getting oxidized, wet or stale.

Don't use dirty or wet teaspoon to take coffee out of the jar!

Cleanliness of Utensils when making

When using instant coffee, it is extremely important that all your coffee utensils, as well as cups, are clean. In fact, every time you prepare instant coffee, you must thoroughly clean everything.

That’s because coffee residue will quickly turn rancid and spoil the taste of your coffee.

Don’t Use Boiling Water

One mistake that most people do when preparing instant coffee is adding boiling water to it. This will scald the coffee and prevents the aromas and flavors from the ground coffee to escape or infuse into the water. With boiling water on instant coffee, most of the time it will have a bland taste.

So, use only water that around 80°C to 90°C to get a better tasting coffee.

Stir Well for 30 Seconds

Stirring is very important when preparing instant coffee. By steering, you increase the surface area for water to act on the ground coffee.

Additionally, stirring for 30 seconds allows the carbon dioxide in the coffee to escape which then creates a chemical reaction that removes any bitterness from the coffee.

You are then left with a smooth and authentic tasting coffee that tastes exactly as the manufacturer intends it to.


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