Coffee 101: Instant Coffee vs. Pour Over Coffee and French Press


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The Waka Life Blog

Instant Coffee vs. Pour Over Coffee and French Press

Once and for all, these are the differences between french press, pour over, and instant coffee.

French Press and Drip Coffee vs. Instant Coffee

You might be thinking, isn’t all coffee is the same? Well, you are right… to a certain extent. Different brewing methods of coffee such as french press, pour over, drip and instant coffee all produce coffee varying in taste, texture, and caffeine content.

Instant Coffee

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This is the simplest and fastest brew method of the three and pretty much all other coffee brewing methods.

How to make instant coffee? All you need to do is add the coffee crystals into hot or cold water, stir, and you’re done! Instant coffee contains caffeine ranging from 27-173 mg per 8 oz. and the caffeine content is largely dependent on the type of beans and roasts the instant coffee is made up of. Waka Coffee, for example, has 70 mg of caffeine in an 8 fl oz cup of coffee.

Instant coffee is made by roasting, grinding, and brewing the coffee beans. Then the brewed coffee is dehydrated into dissolvable coffee crystals or granules using either the freeze drying process or spray drying process. Premium quality instant coffee should be made using 100% Arabica beans and freeze dried, as it preserves the natural flavors of the coffee.

French Press Coffee

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This coffee is made by a plunger type of brewing method and device. French press coffee contains a range of 80-135 mg of caffeine per 8 oz with an average of 107.5 mg a cup. Compared to the other two methods of instant coffee and pour over, it is the longest brewing process with more steps.

How to make french press? First you add your coffee grounds into the press device, boil water on the side, and then pour some of the water over the grounds and let it rest to “bloom” for about a minute. After one minute, pour the rest of the water into the press and let it sit for about three minutes for the coffee grounds to steep. Then slowly press the plunger down, pour the coffee into a mug, and enjoy!

Pour Over/Drip Coffee

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This type of brewing method can be done by an auto-drip machine or manually by hand. Many times manual is preferred because producing one cup by hand is faster than a machine producing multiple cups. Pour over or drip coffee contains 115-175 mg of caffeine per 8 oz, with an average of 145 mg a cup.

How to make pour over coffee? First, you place a filter onto a dripper cone and wet a bit the filter with hot water. Add your coffee grounds into the filter and add a bit of water to the grounds and let it sit for a minute to bloom. After one minute, slowly pour the rest of the water over the grounds in a circular motion. Once you’re done, remove the cone dripper containing the filter and leftover grounds, and enjoy your coffee!

If you use a drip coffee machine (pour-over machine), place your coffee on the filter in its place. Fill the needed amount of water by maintaining water-to-coffee ratio of about 1 oz of water per spoon of ground coffee. Some machines have different setups, which will determine the time it takes you to brew the coffee. The brewing time also has an affect on its flavor, so make sure to setup to your likings.

French Press vs. Instant Coffee

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So what’s the difference between instant coffee and french press? In terms of brewing process, the french press is a much longer process compared to instant coffee. While instant coffee can be made within less than a minute, and leaves no leftover grounds to be cleaned, the french press requires clean up of leftover grounds and the plunger device. This in addition to a longer waiting time for the coffee to steep and brew. 

Depending on your choice of grounds, the french press could provide a stronger coffee, however, due to the brewing process a lot of sediment can be left in your cup of coffee. In addition, the coffee grounds can easily be over-extracted, creating a bitter tasting coffee.

If you enjoy trial-and-error and the process of creating the best possible coffee to your taste, then the french press could be a good option. On the other hand, instant coffee is great for those who are in a rush or like to take their coffee with them for backpacking or camping trips. Drinking instant coffee also ensures you get the same flavor in every cup. 

Drip/Pour Over Coffee vs. Instant Coffee

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What’s the difference between instant coffee and pour over? To start off, many times drip or pour-over coffee will contain a significantly higher caffeine content than instant coffee. Of course, this is also dependent on your choice of beans and the ratio of water to grounds.

Unlike the french press, the pour-over method creates a clean coffee since the grounds are kept separate from the coffee. However, same as with the french press, it is a longer brewing process compared to instant coffee. The proper pouring technique is needed for the manual pour-over to properly extract the coffee grounds. In addition, the resulting coffee is largely affected by the texture of the grind and water-to-coffee ratio. Coarser grounds won’t get extracted well and fine grounds can get over-extracted.

On the contrary, Instant coffee leaves no guesses for water-to-coffee crystals ratio as each brand specifically states their recommended amount. Even if a different ration is needed, it is much simpler and easier to implement time over time. As with the french press, if you enjoy the trial-and-error process of creating the best coffee for you, but a cleaner texture than the french press, then the pour-over method is for you. If you want to make your coffee experience simple, yet delicious and as similar to drip coffee -- choose premium instant coffee. 

Looking for a premium instant coffee? Buy it here.

Waka Coffee & Tea