Why you shouldn’t drink Instant Coffee
Why you shouldn’t drink Instant Coffee
Ok, So before we start, this is all opinion which by it’s very nature is subjective but can we just agree, Instant isn’t up to scratch in this day and age of coffee consumption?
We’re on the same page?
With that, lets begin.
There are many reasons we shouldn’t drink Instant Coffee, but the simple answer is, because we don’t have to! With so many great espresso bars, home espresso machines, pour over kits, Aeropress, French Press why would you adulterate your precious time and palate with a cup of coffee that is anything but special?
Taking time out to enjoy some finely ground & brewed coffee shouldn’t be taken for granted. In our increasingly busy lives, too often to we take the convenient over the good, purely because it’s there, rather than taking five minutes to produce something really worth savouring. More on that in a minute.
First though, lets look at the history of Instant Coffee and frame up an argument for why we should be saying no to it.
The Origins of Instant Coffee
The original concept of Instant Coffee, or the original idea of it at least harks back to the late 19th century in the midst of the Industrial Revolution. The French, or more specifically a Frenchman by the name of Alphonese Allais, was the first to patent a process for Instant Coffee in 1881.
Then, 9 years later in 1890, the New Zealand innovator David Strang patented his own method for drying coffee, the ’Dry Hot Air’ processs.
In 1901, the Japanese-American Satori Kato unleashed his version of Instant Coffee in Buffalo New York and a few years later in 1910, (and this is no joke on his name) George Constant Louis Washington, unveiled what would become the first really commercially available ‘instant coffee’
With his mass production method , George was able to obtain the lucrative contract to supply the US military with his product. Like Spam in a Can - instant coffee became popular thanks to the US military purchasing all the available supplies during the 1930’s for their soldiers and with the return of these soldiers, their drinking habits and their love for instant caffeine gratification continued.
According to Euromonitor, the instant coffee market is currently valued at $28 billion and is expected to grow another $8.3 billion by 2020. Now that’s a lot of instant coffee!
The major growth markets are that 1 of The Pacific, Middle Eastern and African. Incredibly, these regions are set to surpass the traditional markets by 2020. With instant coffee being cheap, easily transportable, quick to make almost anywhere – as found out by the troops of WW2, there is little doubt the market is strong.
Instant Coffee vs Brewed Coffee
No doubt, instant coffee saves time.
Seriously though, is taking 5 minutes out of our day to make and enjoy a fresh cup of brewed coffee or espresso really that bad?
Is it really that labour intensive?
I actually find it therapeutic and kind of meditative. And it’s more rewarding once it’s consumed having been just that bit more involved in the process of making the cup.
Freshly brewed coffee retains its essential and volatile oils and other chemical constituents intact. This provides you, the drinker with a much more sensual, fuller and more nuanced coffee experience with a wider flavour profile than Instant could ever hope for. Think of it this way, there aren’t too many ‘single origin’ Instant Coffees available out on the market are there?
For many coffee drinkers, it is not just the caffeine hit we’re craving, but the experience, the aroma, the overload to the senses of freshly ground coffee beans, the sound of the espresso machine, the drip of your coffee peculator personalising every drop of premium roasted coffee. With freshly bought and brewed coffee, every bean has a story; its country and place of origin, who roasted them, how they were roasted and where, all this adds to the opulence and the experience that should be afforded to you in your daily cup.
The fact is, you can’t get that from an instant, freeze-dried coffee… ever.
How is Instant Coffee made?
It is no secret that to produce Instant Coffee, second rate, inferior and defective quality beans are utilised to save cost in production for the major manufacturers – This is economies of scale and large manufacturers like to save money.
More on that below, but they’ll source the most cost effective coffee they can find on the global market with the knowledge that this coffee is only ever going to be consumed as a commodity product.
Forget delicate, acidic, floral, fruity goodness and think more ashy, dark, astringent, bland and miserable. Once said manufacturers have sources these sub par, defective coffees the coffee beans are then roasted, ground finely (to a powder) and then dissolved under pressure in water (or more accurately, steam). So it’s already been partially brewed before you even buy it!
This partially brewed mixture is then freeze-dried or spray-dried to create instant coffee granules, packaged and then stacked as high as possible at a supermarket near you! So, to recap the process..
Manufacturers of instant coffee will use beans from just about anywhere that the majority of people who have a palate would reject. They then blend, roast (and I use the word ‘roast’ advisedly) grind or pulverise the coffee into a powder, partially brew the powder then spray dry/freeze dry leaving the coffee as granular, instant coffee and we all know it to be.
Nothing romantic about that, is there?
This type of coffee, Instant Coffee, is a far cry from the daily ritual most (and I presume all reading this article) will have come to understand as to what coffee is in this day and age. We have become accustomed to fresh roasted coffee from some amazing producers who have such a vast knowledge of just about every aspect of coffee from crop to cup. 'Instant’ may still have a place in some peoples kitchen cupboards but it should never be thought of as anything but a commodity or a condiment or an emergency beverage at best.
Instant Coffee is cheap for a reason
So, as mentioned above, the economies of scale dictate that manufacturers source the most cost effective coffee they can. Invariably, this sub par coffee that would be rejected by the majority of the wider coffee community. These beans will be from a variety of places – many of which could be ‘unethically sourced’ or from farms or regions that don’t subscribe to ‘ethical sourcing standards’, meaning that slave labour ‘could’ be involved in picking your Instant brew.
The beans in the production of instant coffee are typically air roasted (not a desirable method in our opinion) and roasted over a short of time (10 mins or so) and roasted to what most would consider a fairly dark roast profile. This is common practice in the mass-produced Instant Coffee market as it covers up defects and poor quality, leaving a coffee with a one dimensional, flat and lifeless cup profile.
Now, we at Darks are certainly not ones to get all ‘A Current Affair’ or ‘Today Tonight’ on anyone.
It isn’t our style to be sensationalist but in a 2013 study, it was discovered that instant coffee had 100% more Acrylamides (it’s found in everything from cooked chips to dried prunes and is considered a potential occupational carcinogen) than in freshly ground coffee and was found to increase the risk of several types 2 of cancer as well as effect iron absorption. Now there is no harm in a daily ‘cup’ but if you are having 3 instant, maybe it’s a statistic you should be a little worried about.
Brewing a cup of Specialty Coffee doesn’t take that long. You just need to learn how to do it!
Aeropress takes 2 or 3 minutes.
Espresso Machine once heated up takes around 30 seconds.
V60 is about 2 and a half minutes.
And Instant Coffee is, well, instant. Think about it this way though, how long do you spend on Instagram or Facebook each day? Maybe 5 minutes at a time? What if you put the phone down, sit back and took the time to enjoy the process of making a fresh-brewed cup of coffee, even grind the beans yourself?
Think of it as almost meditative and contemplative, a time to reset, to take your mind away from being busy, away from emails, off the computer and simply working on your grind, perfecting your brew and enjoying the moment. Life is not filled with enough moments like these I reckon!
You don’t make friends with Instant Coffee
“Lets stay in and we’ll get a couple of instant coffees” – said NO ONE EVER!
Drinking coffee is a social thing, you get out of the house, step away from work, away from the kids all to get some of your own time. If it is an ‘inside’ thing, make it right and make it count. Become one with your brew method! How you drink your coffee is how you live your life, so regardless if it is hard and fast or long and slow, make it count and DO IT RIGHT! – enjoy a fine cup of freshly brewed, or freshly pressed espresso and give the instant coffee the flick.
If you’re looking for a coffee supplier that’s focused on creating the perfect cup look no further than Darks Coffee Roasters. Available in wholesale for cafes and businesses across Australia, Darks Coffee Roasters provide coffee, coffee machines, grinders and brew equipment so you can create a great coffee every time.