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Instant coffee has become popular around the world mainly because of its convenience. Making a cup of instant coffee takes seconds compared to the long process of brewing a full pot. Because of its popularity, several coffee brands are now making their own versions of instant coffee. But are they all the same? And which is best?
Is all instant coffee the same? All instant coffee is not the same because different brands use different types of beans and manufacturing processes. Therefore, instant coffee will vary in taste and texture depending on the brand you choose. However, all types of instant coffee come in powder form.
Instant coffee is a lot like wine. Everybody has a preference with regards to aroma and taste. Before you can pick the best option, you must first learn the various types of instant coffee. But first
What is Instant Coffee?
Instant coffee is regularly brewed coffee that goes through a dehydration process to turn it into fine powder or crystals. It is an inexpensive and convenient option for coffee lovers who want a quick and cheap caffeine boost.
Many coffee enthusiasts view instant coffee as weak and flavorless, but this is not true. Several high-end instant coffee brands are full of flavor with the same health benefits as regular brewed coffee.
To know the best type of instant coffee, you have to learn about the various types available in the market.
Types of Instant Coffee
If you have ever tried instant coffee, you know that different brands vary in taste.
You might also notice that the coffee granules differ in size and color. This is because there are different types of instant coffee, and you will learn about them in this section.
Freeze-Dried Instant Coffee
According to popular opinion, freeze-dried instant coffee is of the highest quality in the market. This is because it is made from Arabica coffee beans or high-quality coffee beans and has the best texture compared to the rest.
As the name suggests, freeze-dried instant coffee is made through a process called freeze-drying. This method is considered the best because it preserves the most flavor in the coffee beans during the process—another reason why this type of instant coffee is preferred by many.
The process of freeze-drying is as follows:
- Brewed coffee is filtered and frozen to -40 degrees F.
- The frozen coffee is then put into a vacuum, where it is heated and dries at low temperatures.
- The water slowly evaporated, leaving dry coffee grains behind.
The low temperature and mild drying conditions during this process help preserve the coffee’s aroma and flavor. Coffee flavor is one of the things that coffee lovers appreciate and are willing to pay top dollar for.
All premium instant coffee in the market is made using this process, which is also the most expensive.
If you value quality over quantity, this is the best type of instant coffee for you. Nescafe Gold, Jacobs Kronug, and Douwe Egberts are some popular brands of freeze-dried instant coffee in the market.
Spray-Dried Instant Coffee
Spray-dried instant coffee is considered the second-best on the market because it is made using low-quality coffee beans and lacks flavor compared to freeze-dried instant coffee.
The process of making this type of instant coffee is called spray drying and is almost as instantaneous as the coffee. In addition, this method is cheaper, making it the best for mass-producing instant coffee.
The spray drying process is as follows:
- Liquid coffee is sprayed in a hot chamber to evaporate the liquid
- High pressure from the hot air breaks down the coffee granules leaving fine rounded particles at the bottom.
This process requires very high temperatures to create instant coffee within a short time. These high temperatures affect the oils in the coffee minimizing the flavor. Spray-dried instant coffee is darker, and its particles are more fragile than freeze-dried coffee.
When the particles are too small, the coffee goes through an additional steaming process to fuse the granules. This is necessary so brands can give the consumer a more consistent product. If you enjoy more of a burnt taste in coffee, spray-dried coffee might be for you. A popular brand of spray-dried coffee is Nescafe Classic.
Chicory Instant Coffee
Are you caffeine intolerant?
If you answered yes, then instant chicory coffee is the best option for you.
Chicory is not a coffee plant, but it has a similar flavor to coffee. Chicory coffee is made from its plant roots and is quickly gaining popularity as a healthier alternative to regular coffee.
The manufacturing process involves roasting and grinding the roots into powder. Some brands will mix it with coffee granules in a ratio of 3 to 1 or vice versa. As a result, there are significant differences in color, texture, and smell compared to the other types of instant coffee.
If your chicory instant coffee drink is orange in color, it contains more chicory than coffee. Additionally, the drink will not smell like coffee, and the granules will disintegrate almost immediately when put between your fingertips.
Like regular coffee, chicory coffee also has several health benefits. It helps improve your digestive system, reduces inflammation, and lowers your blood sugar. Additionally, it is more affordable than the other instant coffee types.
If you are looking for caffeine-free, affordable instant coffee, chicory is an ideal option for you.
How Much Caffeine is in Instant Coffee?
Instant coffee has less caffeine than regular coffee, but it ultimately depends on the type of brand you buy.
The average amount of caffeine in instant coffee is 57mg per 8 fl oz cup. Other brands can have between 60-70mg in the same serving.
Both are far less than the 95mg of caffeine in a regular cup of coffee.
Is Instant Espresso the Same as Instant Coffee?
Like instant coffee, instant espresso comes in powder form. The main difference between instant coffee and instant expresso is the flavor.
Instant expresso is made from brewed espresso, a more concentrated coffee drink. The drink is also made from high-quality arabica coffee beans rich in flavor.
The brewed espresso is dehydrated, forming espresso granules that you can add to boiling water creating an espresso drink…instantly!