Instant coffee is made of dried coffee extract and is easy to prepare with the addition of hot water. It is also known as coffee powder, soluble coffee, or coffee crystals.
In this article, you can expect to learn more information about instant coffee-what it is, what it isn’t, how it is made, and how it differs from other forms of regular coffee. You can also get more information about the health considerations and caffeine content of this dried coffee.
Is Instant Coffee Real Coffee?
What is instant coffee, and is it real coffee? In short, the answer is yes. Instant coffee is just one of the different forms of regular coffee derived from the coffee plant. It is the form of processing and presentation that distinguishes instant coffee from ground coffee, for example.
Instant coffee is made from brewed coffee beans dried to form the coffee powder or coffee crystals. It is almost ready to drink, and by just adding hot water or milk, you can enjoy a coffee cup. In some instances, instant coffee may be available as a liquid coffee concentrate. To prepare this, you can add hot water and other condiments. Instant coffee may also be prepared directly using hot milk instead.
History and Invention
Today, instant coffee is readily available and widely used. Back in the late 1800s and early 1900s, various invented worked on instant coffee formulations and patented their processes. One notable name is Alphonse Allais from France, who invented and patented instant coffee in 1881.
In 1890, David Strang from New Zealand commercialized an instant coffee product and received a patent for a dry hot-air process. Satori Kato, a Japanese working in Chicago, has also been accredited with that invention. Some time later, in 1938, the popular coffee brand Nescafe was formed. Today, there are many manufacturers of instant coffee, with many of their products have signature flavors and unique content profiles.
Is Instant Coffee the Same As Ground Regular Coffee?
Instant coffee and ground coffee are different, but each of the two comes from coffee beans. As mentioned before, instant coffee is brewed coffee in a powder or crystal form. It takes just a few moments to prepare a cup of instant coffee. On the other hand, regular coffee requires some brewing or steeping to extract the full taste and aroma.
Ground coffee is made up of coffee beans that are ground into a flour-like consistency and produce brewed coffee when steeped. Unlike instant coffee, the beans used to make this regular coffee have not been brewed. This is the key difference.
To prepare a coffee cup from ground coffee, you can follow the same procedure you use for making tea with a teabag. Combine the product with hot water, and let it steep for a few moments. After that, you can strain the remaining coffee grounds and enjoy the beverage.
Coffee grounds are not to be mistaken for ground coffee. It is the residue or dregs that remain after coffee brewing. A lot of coffee flavor is removed from these during the brewing stage. The residue is usually thrown away into the trash, but more people are discovering its benefits in the garden. The residue from brewed coffee is rich in minerals essential for plant growth like nitrogen, calcium, potassium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, and chromium. The residue is also useful for things like insect repellant, odor neutralizer, natural cleaning scrub and exfoliate, and pot scouring.
As far as the flavor, you can expect a different flavor profile and strength, depending on what form of coffee you utilize. Instant coffee is known for being a much weaker form of coffee. Those who like strong brews and rich flavor and tastes are more likely to brew their coffee from ground coffee or the coffee beans themselves. There are many coffee brewing machines that you can use to make the coffee of your taste preference.
What Instant Coffee Contains
Instant coffee is dehydrated brewed coffee beans, so you don’t expect it to contain many other additives and substances. As with all products derived from the coffee plant’s beans, instant coffee is caffeinated but has less caffeine than its counterparts.
Instant coffee contains a lower caffeine content compared with brewed coffee. One study found that one cup of regular instant coffee contains an average of 66 milligrams of caffeine per 225 ml. There are many instant coffee brands, so that they can be more or less caffeine in each. The amount of caffeine is typically around 29 milligrams –117 milligrams of caffeine per median cup range of 170-285 ml.
Filter or drip regular coffee contains more caffeine than instant coffee. Another study found an average of 112 milligrams of caffeine per same cup size. To find information on the exact number of milligrams of coffee that a particular brand of instant coffee contains, you can refer to the product packaging and nutritional content information.
Another important substance contained in instant coffee is a polyphenol. This is an antioxidant, and these substances have many health benefits. There are about 320 milligrams of antioxidants per 180 ml cup of instant coffee.
How Is Instant Coffee Produced?
Instant coffee is made using two main methods. You may utilize either one, and these are freeze-drying and spray-drying. Here is a breakdown of the entire production process from coffee beans to instant coffee powder.
The first step is the roasting of the green coffee beans, which takes up to 15 minutes. This process brings out their aroma and flavor. The roasted beans are then cooled and finely ground. A similar approach is followed for most regular coffee forms. At this stage, the pieces have dimensions of about 0.020–0.043 inches.
The next important step is the extraction process. Instant coffee, made in commercial operations, contains the soluble and volatile parts of the coffee bean. These substances are responsible for the aroma and flavor of instant coffee. The extraction stage takes place using pressurized liquid water heated to a temperature of about 347 °F. This process produces a liquid coffee with all the coffee goodness, leaving behind the residue.
The next step is to concentrate the liquid coffee. Two main methods may be used to do this, and these are evaporation and freeze concentration.
How Freeze-drying Works
In this method, sublimation is used to remove excess water from the liquid coffee extract. This method is the more expensive of the two, but it produces a high-quality freeze-dried instant coffee product. Frozen coffee is first produced rapidly from the coffee extract. It is then broken into small frozen coffee granules, which are then sorted according to their size. The frozen coffee granules are then dried in a drying chamber. The sublimation process removes excess water as a fine mist, leaving behind freeze-dried granules of instant coffee ready for packaging.
How Spray-drying Works
The other method of drying the coffee extract to make instant coffee is spray-drying, which used hot air. This method is a more popular process for large scale production because it is more economical, takes less time, and produced round particles. A technique known as nozzle atomization is used to dry the coffee extract. In no time, a large volume of instant coffee can be processed and produced. Spray wheels produce a coffee spray, and there are drying towers to remove the excess water. The main drawback of this method is that the particle produced may be too fine. You may utilize a fine mist of steam to add back some water to turn the dried coffee powder into slightly larger crystals of instant coffee.
Health Considerations When Using Instant Coffee
Even though instant coffee is derived from a natural substance, there are some health considerations that people who drink instant coffee should understand. Most people enjoy the effects of the caffeine in coffee. It gives them a boost, especially during the morning. Too much of it, however, is not good for your health. Adverse health effects of too much coffee include insomnia, restlessness, and stomach irritation, among other things. These can lead to a higher risk of minor nervous conditions when you consume high volumes of coffee over an extended period of time.
One way to drink coffee but take in less caffeine is by making use of a decaffeinated instant coffee or decaf. In decaf, an extraction method removes around 97% of the caffeine. This hot beverage still has the same great taste and aroma as regular instant coffee but without all the caffeine. It is made using a similar process, with an additional method for extracting the caffeine.
Instant coffee may also reduce the absorption of iron in the intestines. It has also been associated with a higher risk of certain types of cancer in women when you compare it with regular coffee. There was no difference in gall bladder cancer risk in men between instant coffee and regular coffer.
Instant coffee is a fast and convenient way of making coffee to drink and enjoy. It is very popular but differs slightly in flavor and amount of caffeine from regular coffee. Instant coffee may also be purchased in a decaffeinated form, as with regular coffee types.