What is Instant Coffee? Here’s Everything You Should Know

Instant coffees are the most commonly available form of coffee globally. They are easy to make, cheap, and easily available. 

If you’re surprised by these facts, you’ll be blown away by what we’ll tell you in this article. 

Instant coffee is a lot like regular coffee. The only important differences are that you don’t need a machine to make them, and their production process is different. The former gives you control over what your drink will taste like. 

More on this, so keep reading!

What is Instant Coffee?

Instant coffee is made with a coffee extract that has been set aside to dry. It is brewed in the same way regular coffee is. 

Once brewed, the water is removed from the extract, and a powder or dried fragments are formed. Both are water-soluble.

The defining feature of this type of coffee is that it dissolves easily. So once you’re ready to make your drink, you can mix the coffee powder into water, milk, or anything else, and as long as you mix it enough, the coffee will blend. 

This feature is obvious from the term ‘instant’ in the name.

Caffeine Content

Instant coffee has less caffeine than regular coffee, so if you’ve been looking for a less bitter drink, this might just be the right thing for you. A cup of regular coffee has around 70 to 140 mg, while this has 30 to 90 mg. 

How to Manufacture Instant Coffee?

An important aspect of instant coffee you need to understand is how the beans are converted into powder. This powder is what goes to shops and then customers’ kitchens. So if you want to learn more about it, keep reading. 

There are 2 main ways to make instant coffee:

  • Freeze drying 
  • Spray drying 

Making Instant Coffee through Freeze-drying 

The first way to make instant coffee is freeze-drying. It is the more common method and follows these steps:

  1. Coffee extract is sprayed into hot air. 
  2. Hot air dries the droplets. 
  3. The droplets turn into small pieces or fine powder.

These pieces and the power are packaged into jars to be sold.

Making Instant Coffee through Spray-drying

Another way companies manufacture coffee is through spray-drying. This involves the following:

  1. Coffee extract is frozen. 
  2. Once frozen, the extract is cut into small pieces.
  3. The pieces are dried under vacuum conditions at cool temperatures. 

Once dried, the pieces are packaged for distribution. 

Which Method is Better?

Both production processes preserve the flavor, aroma, and quality of the coffee bean extracts. So they’re equally valid methods. There is no right or wrong, better or worse way to manufacture instant coffee. 

One difference between the two types is what the coffee looks like after the process is over. One is slightly grainier than the other. So it is super easy to tell which one is which. 

The Brewing Process for A Cup of Instant Coffee – How to?

All you need to do is add 1 teaspoon of coffee to a cup of hot water for a hot beverage. 

Substitute the hot water for cold milk, and you’ll have a cup of iced coffee. Remember to mix coffee grains in a bit of warm water before adding them to the milk for this type of coffee, though. 

Add sugar if the drink is too bitter for you. 

Instant brewed coffee is the most famous kind of coffee because it is super easy to make. It is also very easy to personalize. Everything from the amount of coffee you add —half a teaspoon or 2—determines what your drink will taste like. 

The only thing you need to remember is that it is essential to expose the coffee grains to heat. This extracts the flavor and aroma from them. Even if you’re making a cold beverage, it is important to start with dissolving the grains in a warm liquid – water, milk, etc., will get the job done.

Taking A Close Look at the Different Ways to Make Instant Coffee

There are endless ways to make instant coffee since the entire process depends on you. 

You can make black coffee by only adding coffee to water. Alternatively, you could add more character to your drink by adding extra flavorings like honey or changing the base to milk.

Bitter Coffee

If you’re someone who enjoys a bitter cup of coffee, you may think black coffee is the only right answer. However, that is far from true. 

You can have bitter coffee with a milk base. You could also get the same results by increasing the coffee content and adding a bit of sugar. You can also get a drink that isn’t very sweet by pairing your instant coffee with bitter fruits and snacks.

Sweet Coffee

There are a lot of different ways to end up with a drink that you like. 

The most straightforward option is to reduce the number of instant coffee granules you’re putting in your drink. It will automatically cut down on the bitterness of the beverage. 

Alternatively, you can stick to 1 tsp of coffee and add anywhere between ¼ to 1 tsp sugar. Test out different options till you find something that suits you. 

Another way to make instant coffee sweet and less bitter is by adding flavorings like chocolate syrup or hazelnut spread. ⅛ tsp of Nutella will do wonders for your beverage. 

You could also add candy or fruit as a side dish. 

Difference Between Powdered and Crystalized Instant Coffee

You’ll come across powdered and crystallized instant coffee. There aren’t a lot of differences between the two types, and there is a good chance that unless they’re flavors from different brands, they will taste and smell the same.

Powdered coffee is the product of spray-drying, while crystalized instant coffee is the result of freeze-drying. Beyond this, there isn’t much of a difference. At the end of the day, ground coffee (powdered or crystallized) from the same coffee bean variety will taste the same.

Benefits of Instant Coffee – Antioxidants and More

Instant coffee contains a lot of really beneficial nutrients that make these beverages an excellent snack. 

Coffee is known to be the biggest source of antioxidants in the modern diet. Research shows that instant coffee has more antioxidants than the typical brew because of how it is processed. 

Moreover, in regards to other nutritional benefits of coffee, it is important to know that this drink doesn’t have a lot of calories. Usually, you’ll only get around 7 calories. At the same time, you’ll get decent amounts of Vitamin B3, magnesium, and potassium. 

Overall, it’s a great bargain. 

Other Benefits of Drinking Coffee

In addition to the instant-coffee-specific benefits listed above, there are several other benefits of drinking it that apply to all coffees in general. 

These include:

  • Increased brain function 
  • Increased metabolism, leading to more fat burn 
  • Reduced risk of diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s 
  • Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Improved liver health due to reduced risk of cirrhosis and liver cancer
  • Less chance of anxiety and depression 

Potentially Harmful Chemical: Acrylamide

There is one potentially harmful chemical in instant coffee – one that you won’t find in other types: acrylamide.

 Overexposure to It can damage the nervous system. It is also known to increase the likelihood of someone getting cancer. 

If you’re only drinking around 1 cup of instant coffee a day with some break days, you don’t have to worry. Although you’re exposing yourself to the chemical, there isn’t a risk of overexposure. Simple exposure doesn’t lead to anything bad. 

On the other hand, if you drink around 5 cups of instant coffee a day and have been doing so consistently over a long period, you may hurt yourself.

How Does Acrylamide Form 

This chemical forms when coffee beans are roasted to high temperatures and that is a common requirement when it comes to making instant coffee. 

While instant coffee isn’t the only way you are exposed to this chemical since it is present in many other household items and personal care products, it is one of the more avoidable exposures. 

Final Thoughts

Instant coffee powder or crystals are cheap, easily available, and super simple to make. So if you’re interested in getting them, you absolutely should.  

There are no apparent downsides to consuming instant coffee. However, to keep things fair, we mentioned about the chemical acrylamide. In most cases, people aren’t drinking enough coffee to be affected by it. 

However, it is still important to be aware of all the risks of doing something before doing it. 

Overall, traditional instant coffee is a low calorie, healthy drink linked to many of the same health benefits as other forms of coffee. 

Photo of author


Jeff Stone
Jeff is a coffee aficionado. He loves a couple cups of joe first thing in the morning. He like trying out new grounds and gear and then writes about it here. When he is not sipping java, he is usually writing it for his clients as a software engineer.

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