If you have not switched to instant coffee for your daily caffeine fix, then it might be time for you to do so now.
With the rising popularity of instant coffee within the last few years, you may be wondering what has changed from the old school instant coffee we have seen on the market in the past. In fact, according to the International Coffee Organization (ICO), soluble coffee shipments made up 9.1% of the total coffee shipped between October 2019 and July 2020. This is also an increase from the year before.
So what is the difference between old school vs. premium instant coffee? And what makes instant coffee premium to begin with? Let’s break it down.
History of Instant Coffee
To start off, let’s talk about how instant coffee first came to be and why it initially became so popular. You may be surprised to find out that the process of creating the perfect soluble coffee took quite a long time.
The first type of instant coffee appeared in 1771 in Britain and was called a coffee compound. It wasn’t until 1890 where a soluble instant coffee was invented by David Strand in New Zealand. He utilized what was called a “dry hot-air” process. However, in 1901, a more stable type of soluble coffee powder was created by a Japanese scientist, Satori Kato. Rather than instant coffee powder, the coffee crystals were invented in 1910 by the chemist George Constant Louis Washington.
It then became a lot more popular in Europe, Brazil, and around the world in 1938 when a large coffee company created their own soluble instant coffee to solve the issue of spoiling coffee during times of storage. When they refined their processes and upgraded their original product in the 1960s, it became a better tasting instant coffee and looks like the type of instant coffee we have on the market today.
Instant Coffee in the U.S.
So when did instant coffee come into play in the United States? The first introduction to a type of instant coffee called “cakes” was during the Civil War. However, it wasn’t until the World Wars where instant coffee became a lot more popular in the United States. This is because during World War I, the military bought out instant coffee supplies as it was part of the military’s food rations.
Old School vs. Premium Instant Coffee
While the process of making instant coffee may seem simple enough, there are various factors which affect the coffee’s flavor and quality. These factors include the type of beans used, whether it be Arabica or Robusta, where the coffee beans are from, and what type of process is used to create the instant coffee. These processes can include the freeze-drying process and the spray-drying process.
What makes Instant Coffee Premium?
When purchasing instant coffee, it is important to make sure to buy high quality instant coffee! While premium instant coffee costs a bit more, this is because they use better technology and processes to make the coffee granules. This means they will not only taste better, but last longer than those that are cheaply made.
So which factors make instant coffee premium and higher quality compared to old school instant coffee? Let’s talk about the two biggest things you should look for when you want to purchase a great tasting instant coffee.
The first factor you should keep in mind is the type of coffee beans used to make the instant coffee. If you’re looking for a premium instant coffee, Arabica beans are the way to go.
Compared to Robusta beans, Arabica beans tend to produce coffee that has a sweeter and softer taste. While it will have higher acidity, it can have other amazing taste notes and tones such as fruits, berry, nuts, or chocolate to give it a more balanced taste.
In contrast, Robusta beans produce coffee with a stronger and harsher taste, which can be off-putting. In addition, Robusta beans tend to have a more bitter taste compared to Arabica.
The Difference in Processing
There are two main methods used to create dried coffee. The two types of processes are freeze-drying vs spray-drying. When looking for premium instant coffee, it is important to make sure it was produced using the freeze-drying process.
This is because the spray drying process involves using intense heat to dry the coffee. Due to the high heat temperatures, it can create a burnt or bitter tasting instant coffee. In addition, this method ruins and loses most of the natural flavor of the coffee. You will also find that spray dried coffee comes in a fine powder form.
The freeze-drying process also involves removing moisture from brewed coffee. However, unlike spray-drying, the freeze-drying process creates dried coffee granules rather than a fine powder. This drying process uses sublimation. During this process, coffee extract is frozen until solid, broken down into smaller pieces, and dried in a mid-temperature vacuum. This process not only creates a super dried crystal, but also retains the natural and delicious taste of the coffee without the burnt flavor.
How to make Premium Instant Coffee
Premium instant coffee is a great addition to any home as it can not only be easily made, but has a longer shelf life compared to ground coffee. Not to mention, instant coffee requires no skill and brews the perfect cup every single time! All you need to do is mix in your desired amount of instant coffee crystals into warm or hot water until it is dissolved and you’re good to go!