FoodInstant coffee: A quick look at your quick brew

Instant coffee: A quick look at your quick brew

How is instant coffee made?
How is instant coffee made?
Images source: © Adobe Stock

1:11 PM EST, December 10, 2023

Instant coffee stands as one of the most popular beverages worldwide. Its appeal lies in its speed and ease of preparation, making it an ever-present choice for morning routines, work breaks, and travel accompaniments. But how much do we really know about instant coffee?

A morning without coffee is a concept most of us can't face. Besides traditional ground coffee, there's a rise in the consumption of instant coffee. Have you ever stopped to think about the process that gives us this go-to beverage? Let's explore the origins, makeup, and production of instant coffee.

Producing instant coffee: the process

The production starts with the coffee beans undergoing a distillation process. The beans are crushed and flooded with hot high-pressure water, resulting in the production of a coffee extract or liquid.

The extract then goes through a drying phase via either spray drying or freeze drying. Spray drying sprays the coffee extract onto a cold surface. The water evaporates, leaving instant coffee granules.

In the freeze-drying process, the coffee extract is frozen and then sublimated, resulting in an instant coffee powder.

What goes into instant coffee?

Good instant coffee differs from ground coffee mainly based on the caffeine content - instant coffee having up to half less. Regrettably, some manufacturers use various additives such as taste improvers, aroma enhancers, and stabilizers, as well as thickeners. Even more notably, the lowest quality and damaged coffee beans are often used in the process for cost savings.

It's crucial to be mindful of the quality of the instant coffee you purchase. Saving a few pennies can compromise the full coffee experience.

Health implications of instant coffee: myth or reality?

Whether it's instant, ground or machine-brewed, coffee is cherished mostly for its aroma rather than its nutritional content. Interestingly, due to the freeze-drying process, instant coffee retains more of its original properties than ground coffee. Ultimately, any health benefits associated with coffee consumption come down to individual preferences and consumption in reasonable amounts.

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