Nothing is more enjoyable than taking a coffee break, and all the hard work is carried out of making it through instant coffees. Is this a perfect solution? Well, that depends on the case, I guess. But it’s a solution that works pretty darn well to save some cash and prolong the life of those delicious coffee beans a little longer. In this article, we will show you how to make instant coffee powder.
What is instant coffee powder?
Instant coffee is made from roasted beans, either spray-dried or freeze-dried and then made into a concentrated extract. By brewing it and concentrating it through vaporization, the extract is made. Finally, to make granules or powder which dissolve in water, the remaining water is removed from the coffee.
Without the need for equipment to brew an entire pot, instant coffee powder makes it very easy to enjoy a fast cup. Through freeze-drying it or dehydrating it in other ways, most businesses make instant coffee. You can also turn it into a fine powder by grinding coffee beans. With its Via Ready-Brew instant coffees, Starbucks has done this. This way, many individuals say it tastes much more like daily fresh coffee.
The History of the instant coffee powder
David Strang, of Invercargill, New Zealand, invented the first soluble instant coffee powder in 1899. Until recently, the Japanese chemist Satori Kato was mistakenly credited with his 1901 version of the invention.
There were several versions of the story of a type of instant coffee powder before 1899, but nothing like what we would know today. It was called a coffee compound in Britain, beginning in 1771, and even obtained a patent from the British government.
An American edition, which was made in 1851, came next. During the American Civil War, people used it, “cakes” were rationed to the soldiers for instant coffee powder and proved to be extremely common for morale.
When the British chemist, George Constant Louis Washington, helped commercialize Satori Kato’s coffee through his work in Guatemala, instant coffee powder gained more momentum.
George Washington coffee, however, was somewhat regarded as a novelty. However, people did not like the taste much. As the coffee didn’t dissolve very well, contributing to its unpopularity, people also needed tweaks.
When Nestlé got involved in 1938, things took off. After being approached in 1930 by the Brazilian Coffee Institute, Nestlé was asked to develop a flavorful, soluble coffee using Brazil’s enormous coffee surplus to minimize spoilage and improve the Brazilian economy.
Nestlé decided and worked on an instant coffee powder for the next seven years that provided both its flavor and its solubility.
When Nestlé scientist Max Morgenthaler developed a new method for the processing of soluble coffee using dried coffee extract and soluble carbohydrates, the breakthrough came in 1937.
Production started the subsequent year and was the first edition of the item we all know as Nescafé today. The new instant coffee was an immediate hit and proved to be extremely popular among World War II soldiers once again.
In the 50s and 60s, attempts were made to develop the Nescafé product by eliminating carbohydrates to stabilize the coffee, emphasizing and creating a more pure product.
Step by step: How to make instant coffee powder?
Up to four times a day, raw, green coffee beans reach the Nestlé factory by lorry. Unloading the 27 tonnes of green coffee inside each of the four lorries takes more than two hours.
The coffee is then machine-sifted and washed to remove any unnecessary debris that might have made its way into the bean sample.
Roasting coffee powder
The beans’ roasting comes next and transforms them from their original green color to a more familiar brown. For Nescafé Gold, a mix of five different beans is added to a giant roaster, weighing 420kg (926lbs) in total.
The beans are heated up to 230 ° C (446 ° F) to produce a medium roast, which the company states are perfect for drinking both with and without milk. The beans are then cooled quickly to 40 ° C (104 ° F) after 10 minutes of roasting to stop further cooking from the residual heat.
Grinding coffee powder
Now the roasted coffee beans are sent to an automated roller mill grinder to be ground. It isn’t the kind of grinder you’re going to find on the kitchen counter at home. It can grind a whopping 1,500kg (3,300lbs) per hour of coffee.
A lot of the flavors are lost in thin air as coffee is ground. The aromas are gathered by injecting nitrogen gas into the ground to mitigate the loss, trapping the smells on their way through. And the vapor is contained in a tank that will be added later.
Brewing coffee powder
It is the bit that you know. As you can do it at home using a French press (cafetière), the ground coffee is now combined with water to brew.
That is not just a couple of scoops for your six-cup coffee maker, though. In a giant extraction pod, almost 700kg (1,543lbs) of coffee is brewed, enough to generate a great 250,000 cups of coffee.
Interestingly, the coffee grounds expended at the Nestlé plant are not thrown away. Coffee grounds generate the same amount of energy as coal, so they are dried and burnt to fuel the boilers’ factory. If you got a log burner at home, you might want to give anything a try.
The evaporation step
We are just starting to see the switch to instant coffee. The brewed and filtered coffee is sent to the Derbyshire factory’s giant evaporation tank covering the entire six floors. About one million cups of coffee are kept in the tank, plenty for even the most hardened coffee drinkers!
Inside the evaporator, 30,000 liters (6,600 gallons) of coffee is moved through pipes every hour. The water evaporates and is siphoned off when heated to 70 ° C (158 ° F).
The coffee is condensed by 50 percent to create a smooth, syrupy coffee extract. That is a lot like reducing your stock at home. As you warm the liquid supply, the flavor decreases and intensifies.
The freezing step
In preparation for freezing, the coffee extract is then pre-chilled using heat exchangers. The syrupy coffee extract is poured onto a conveyor belt until successfully frozen, which makes its way into a giant freezer at temperatures between -40 ° C and -50 ° C (-40 ° F and -58 ° F). That’s colder than the pole to the north.
Then the coffee is separated into granules. Water that needs to be extracted is still present in these deep-frozen granules.
The sublimation step
The granules are pushed for several hours to undergo sublimation through a low-pressure tube mounted in trays. The method of converting a solid into a gas without going through the intermediate liquid phase is sublimation.
The residual aroma would be emitted and lost if you converted the coffee into a liquid again. By heating the coffee in a strong vacuum to 60 ° C (140 ° F), sublimation is achieved. The frozen water vaporizes under pressure and transforms directly into steam.
As the coffee granules leave the vacuum, with the aromas locked in, they have successfully dried. When kept at room temperature, the granules can now remain in a solid-state.
Recovery of the lost aroma step
The coffee granules are now being collected, and the nitrogen gas aromas that were previously captured are ready. When they pass through into huge bags, the scents are poured over the granules.
Now it is time to bring the freeze-dried coffee into jars. A conveyor belt of empty glass jars is each filled in less than a second with coffee. A lid containing an airtight seal is added to each jar, and a Necafé mark is attached.
The cases are then sent worldwide, including to coffee-producing nations such as Peru, filled with cellophane in sixes.
Instant coffee powder for your everyday needs
If someone ever questions you about instant coffee powder or how it’s made, you will inspire them with your superior knowledge. Only note that it was roasted as regular coffee, and then with one of two techniques: spray drying or freeze-drying, it was dehydrated. You can use instant coffee powder to make some cool beverages like this if there is any consolation.