Coffee Insight: Instant Vs Ground Coffee.


Many coffee drinkers look down upon those who consume instant coffee. The convenience of long shelf life, the lack of waste at the end, and the ‘instant’ preparation of coffee all appear as red flags to coffee aficionados who swear by whole bean coffee.

One can’t blame them since freshly prepared coffee beans do make more flavorful and more vibrant coffee. But is instant coffee that bad? There are a few similarities and many differences between the two that are worth mentioning.

The quality of instant coffee has improved drastically in recent years. In some blind tests have shown that a sizeable number of people did prefer instant over ground coffee.

In this article, we’ll carefully compare instant vs ground coffee to help you decide which one might suit you better and get. If you brew your beans fresh every day, some of the reasons here might persuade you to convert.

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Production: Instant vs Ground Coffee

Contrary to relatively popular belief, instant coffee is made from real coffee beans. Up until a certain point in the production process, the coffee beans used to make instant and ground coffee are treated similarly.

The cherries with coffee seeds are picked and then dried through either wet or dry processing. After drying, they are subjected to some final adjustments before they are ready to be shipped out, either pre-roasted or plain.

The manufacturing story ends here for those who consume ground coffee, but instant coffee undergoes several further steps before reaching supermarket shelves.

What is Instant Coffee?

Instant coffee has seen a meteoric rise in popularity since the turn of the century. Sales have been rapidly climbing, and over half of all coffee drinkers, today consume instant coffee. A significant reason behind this is the huge convenience of the process itself.

All you need is some hot water, and you’re good to go. Unlike ground coffee, there is no waste that you need to dispose of after preparation. Instant coffee also has a much longer shelf life than ground coffee and needs lesser care in storage. This ensures that your coffee won’t degrade in quality for a reasonably long time.

The additional steps in its production process do mean that many of the flavors and oils one would find in ground coffee are absent in instant coffee. The kind of beans that are also used generally low-quality Robusta, which lends it a more prominent bitterness.

Also, if you’re only looking for that morning buzz when drinking coffee, instant only contains about half of the caffeine that is present in filter brewed coffee. The commonly cited range of the brewed coffee is 60-80 mg, whereas it is 60-120 mg.

Though the difference doesn’t sound like too much, you have much greater control over the caffeine content while brewing coffee yourself. Depending on how you grind your coffee, different amounts of caffeine are extracted from the bean. A medium ground will usually help you get the most out of your beans when making brewed coffee.

In the case of instant coffee, the caffeine content is already predetermined. It depends on how much caffeine was extracted from the coffee beans during the additional processing steps in manufacturing the coffee.

Be sure to check out “How Much Caffeine is in Instant Coffee?” for more info on instant coffee and its benefits or negative effects.

Ground vs. Instant coffee

Ground coffee, as many of us know, is the best way to taste and experience the richness of a coffee bean truly. Since it is brewed for the first time in our homes, the beans still pack many of its original flavors, oils, aromas, etc., and all of those filters into our cup o’ joe.

This gives it a thicker texture, complex and more varied flavors, as well as more caffeine. However, it does spoil much faster than instant coffee. If you buy pre-roasted coffee, it is recommended that you consume your pack within a week from opening it. This is much shorter than the many months of storage you can afford with instant.

One of the most contested areas of difference between the two that hasn’t been mentioned so far is the health benefits one can derive from consuming either type.

Intuitively, one would imagine that ground coffee must be healthier since it retains more of its original compounds, but this does not seem to be the case. Report after report has shown that instant coffee packs at least as many antioxidants as ground coffee.

Instant coffee contains much less caffeine than ground coffee. It undergoes many more steps in processing, and this causes it to lose many of the features that make coffee a pleasure to drink. But it will last far longer than ground coffee and can be made within seconds if you have some hot water.

Thank you for reading! Be sure to check out similar content like “Ultimate Home Brew Set Up” or “Paper & Metal Coffee Filters: Which One Is Better For You?“. These guides will help you to better understand which coffee type is better for you.

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We’ll brew ya later! ☕️

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