Are you a coffee enthusiast looking for the perfect cup of instant coffee made from whole beans? Do not look ahead! In this article, We cover how to make instant coffee from fresh beans. We will take you through the simple yet artful process of making rich and flavorful instant coffee using whole coffee beans.
Instant coffee is not our first choice or favorite, but we wanted to share how to make quality and flavorful instant coffee for those moments when all you have is roasted coffee beans. Let’s learn how to make a delicious cup of instant coffee that offers both convenience and quality.
What is instant coffee?
Instant coffee, also called soluble coffee, is a beverage obtained from coffee beans that have been brewed, processed, and converted into a soluble form, allowing quick and easy preparation. Through methods such as freeze-drying or spray-drying, brewed coffee is first concentrated into an extract and then dried to produce fine granules or powder. This dry form dissolves quickly when mixed with hot water, eliminating the need for traditional brewing equipment. Instant coffee offers unparalleled convenience, making it a popular choice in a variety of settings, from home and office to travel and outdoor activities. However, its flavor profile may differ slightly from freshly brewed coffee due to the loss of some aromatic compounds during the drying process. Nevertheless, instant coffee remains a widely used and appreciated option for those seeking a quick and accessible coffee experience without compromising on taste. ( 1 )
How instant coffee is usually made
Instant coffee is a popular and convenient way to quickly enjoy a cup of coffee without the need for brewing equipment or time-consuming preparation. It is usually made through a series of steps that involve turning the coffee into a concentrated liquid and then further processing to produce dry beans that can be quickly dissolved in hot water. ( 2 ) Here’s a general overview of how instant coffee is typically made:
- Brewing Coffee: The process starts with brewing coffee using regular coffee beans. Coffee made from what you normally drink is usually stronger and more concentrated, as this will contribute to the richer flavor of the final instant coffee.
- Extraction: The liquefied coffee is then subjected to the extraction process, where the soluble coffee solids are separated from the liquid. This is often done using hot water and pressure to retain the desired flavor and aromatic compounds.
- Concentration: The extracted coffee liquid is concentrated, usually by evaporating the water content. This is done using special equipment that carefully removes the water, leaving the concentrated coffee solubles behind.
- Freeze-drying or spray-drying: There are two general methods for further processing of concentrated coffee liquid: freeze-drying and spray-drying.
- Freeze-drying: In this method, concentrated coffee is frozen, and then the frozen coffee is subjected to a vacuum environment. This causes the frozen water to convert directly from solid to gas (sublimation), leaving behind coffee solids that are then crushed into beans.
- Spray-drying: In this method, concentrated coffee is sprayed into a hot air chamber, where the water content evaporates almost immediately, leaving behind fine coffee particles that are collected and packaged.
- Grinding: Regardless of the drying process used, the resulting coffee solids are often ground to a uniform particle size so that instant coffee dissolves evenly when combined with water.
- Packaging: Dry and ground coffee particles are packaged in airtight containers or packets. The packaging is designed to preserve the aroma and flavor of the coffee and protect it from moisture, light and air.
Now let's learn how to make instant coffee
Making instant coffee from coffee beans involves several steps. Note that instant coffee is processed and ground to a much finer consistency than regular coffee grounds. While you can’t directly convert beans into instant coffee, here’s how you can make a coffee concentrate that turns into something like instant coffee:
Materials and Equipment:
- Coffee beans
- Hot water
- tray or sheet
- Freezer (for freeze-drying method)
- Grinder (for freeze-drying method)
- Airtight container
- Grind the Coffee Beans:
- Start grinding your coffee beans. Use a grinder to achieve a fine consistency. The grind size should be similar to what you would use for espresso.
- Measure the amount of ground coffee you want to convert into instant coffee. Remember that the taste and strength of your instant coffee will depend on the ratio of coffee to water.
- Brewing Concentrated Coffee:
- Make a stronger and thicker coffee using the beans. You can use a coffee maker, French press, or any other brewing method of your choice. Use less water than you normally would to make a stronger coffee extract.
- After making the coffee, let it cool down a bit.
- Choosing a Drying Method:
- There are two common methods for drying concentrated coffee: freeze-drying and spray-drying. Here’s how to proceed with each method:
- Pour the concentrated coffee extract on a tray or sheet. Spread it thinly and evenly.
- Place the tray in the fridge. Allow the coffee to freeze until it becomes firm.
- Once frozen, use a grinder to grind the coffee into fine particles. This will make instant coffee beans.
- Transfer the ground coffee to an airtight container to preserve its freshness.
- With this method, you will need special equipment that is not usually available for home use. Spray-drying involves spraying concentrated coffee extract into a heated chamber, which instantly evaporates the water content and leaves the dried coffee particles behind.
- Due to the complexity of this method, it is not feasible for most home settings. Commercial instant coffee production facilities typically use spray-drying equipment.
- There are two common methods for drying concentrated coffee: freeze-drying and spray-drying. Here’s how to proceed with each method:
- Making Instant Coffee:
- Heat water in a saucepan. You will need the same amount of water as the amount of coffee concentrate you are making.
- Once the water comes to a boil, remove it from the heat and simply add a desired amount of your homemade instant coffee granules into a cup.
- Customize your coffee with milk, cream, sweetener or flavorings if desired.
- Store leftover homemade instant coffee beans in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. This will help preserve the flavor and aroma of the coffee.
Making instant coffee from coffee beans requires some effort and access to special equipment for freeze-drying or spray-drying. Remember that commercial instant coffee production involves sophisticated machinery to ensure consistent quality and safety standards.
How much caffeine is in instant coffee?
The caffeine content of instant coffee can vary based on several factors such as the coffee bean used, the brand and the instant coffee beans used to make it. On average, a typical 8-ounce (240-milliliter) cup of instant coffee contains about 30 to 90 milligrams of caffeine.
For reference, here are some approximate caffeine contents you can find in instant coffee:
- Regular instant coffee: A typical cup of instant coffee can contain about 30 to 60 milligrams of caffeine.
- Decaffeinated instant coffee: If you choose decaffeinated instant coffee, the caffeine content is significantly reduced, usually around 2 to 5 milligrams of caffeine per cup.
- Higher caffeine varieties: Some instant coffees are marketed as extra caffeinated. It can contain about 60 to 90 mg of caffeine per cup.
Note that these are general ranges and actual caffeine content may vary. If you’re particularly sensitive to caffeine or if you’re trying to manage your caffeine intake, it’s a good idea to check the label of the particular brand of instant coffee you’re using for more accurate information.
Caffeine content can also vary based on serving size, so be sure to adjust accordingly if you’re preparing a large or small cup of instant coffee.
What is the best instant coffee?
Determining the best instant coffee is subjective and may depend on individual preferences for flavor, aroma, and other factors. However, there are several well-known instant coffee brands that are often recommended by coffee enthusiasts and reviewers. Remember that taste is personal, so it’s a good idea to try a few different options to find one that suits your palate. Here are some popular and highly regarded instant coffee brands:
- Nescafé: Nescafé is one of the most widely recognized and available instant coffee brands. They offer a variety of instant coffees, including classic blends, specialty flavors, and even single-origin options.
- Mount Hagen: Mount Hagen is known for its organic and fair trade instant coffee. It is made from 100% Arabica beans and is appreciated for its smooth flavor and rich aroma.
- Starbucks VIA: Starbucks offers its own line of instant coffee called VIA. It is made using high-quality Arabica beans and comes in different roast profiles for different tastes.
- Café Bustelo: Café Bustelo is known for its strong and bold flavors. It is a favorite among those who enjoy a rich and intense coffee experience.
- Instant Coffee: Instant Coffee takes a unique approach by producing single-origin instant coffee made from high-quality beans. It is often praised for its quality and convenience.
- Swift Cup Coffee: Swift Cup Coffee specializes in specialty-grade instant coffee. They work with different roasters to create instant coffees that preserve the subtle flavors of the beans.
- Waka Coffee: Waka Coffee offers single-origin instant coffee with an emphasis on quality and taste. They use 100% Arabica beans and are known for their smooth and flavorful options.
Medaglia d’Oro: Medaglia d’Oro offers a well-respected espresso-style instant coffee that is often praised for its rich and bold flavor.
Difference From Turkish Coffee
Instant coffee and Turkish coffee are two distinct types of coffee preparations with significant differences in preparation methods, flavor profiles, and cultural significance.
Instant coffee is a type of coffee that is brewed, processed to remove water, and then ground into a fine powder. To prepare instant coffee, you simply mix coffee powder with hot water, and it quickly dissolves to make a cup of coffee. It’s a convenient and quick way to enjoy coffee without the need for brewing equipment.
Turkish coffee is a traditional coffee brewing method that involves finely ground coffee beans with water and sometimes sugar in a special container called “sezve” or “ibrik”. Coffee is brewed without a filter, and the ground coffee is allowed to settle to the bottom of the cup after drinking. It is known for its rich, strong flavor and dense texture.
Instant coffee is often considered more convenient but has a milder and simpler flavor profile compared to other brewing methods. Freeze-drying or spray-drying processes used to make instant coffee can lose some of the volatile compounds responsible for the coffee’s subtle flavor, resulting in a less complex flavor.
Turkish coffee is famous for its strong and intense aroma. It is usually made to be stronger and the fine grind of the coffee beans contributes to a dense and sloppy texture. The absence of a filter means that the coffee retains its natural oils and flavors, creating a unique and powerful coffee experience.
Instant coffee is popular for its convenience and ease of preparation. It is commonly used in households and offices where a quick coffee fix is preferred. However, it is often not considered as high-quality or flavorful as other brewing methods.
Turkish coffee has a special place in the cultural heritage of many countries in the Middle East and Eastern Europe. It has a strong cultural significance and is often associated with hospitality and sociability. The preparation and enjoyment of Turkish coffee is steeped in tradition and etiquette.
The art of brewing instant coffee from whole beans is an endeavor worth exploring for any coffee lover. By choosing exceptional beans, mastering the roasting process, grinding precisely and understanding the nuances of extraction and drying, you can create a cup of instant coffee that rivals freshly brewed alternatives. Embrace the journey, experiment with different techniques, and indulge in the symphony of flavors the process unfolds. Elevate your coffee ritual and indulge in the satisfaction of your barista-worthy creation.
Can I make instant coffee from coffee beans?
Yes, you can make instant coffee from fresh coffee beans, but the process involves more steps than traditional instant coffee. Keep in mind that the taste and quality may differ from commercially produced instant coffee.
How do I prepare the beans for making instant coffee?
Start by roasting the fresh coffee beans. Spread them on a baking sheet and roast in an oven at around 350°F (175°C) for 10-15 minutes, or until they turn dark and aromatic. Let them cool completely.
How do I turn the coffee grounds into instant coffee?
Spread the finely ground coffee on a baking sheet and place it in the oven at the lowest possible temperature (around 150°F or 65°C) for a few hours. Stir occasionally to ensure even drying. The goal is to remove moisture without over-roasting.
How fine should the coffee grounds be?
The coffee grounds should be similar in texture to those used for espresso. Too fine and you risk over-extraction; too coarse and you’ll end up with weak flavor.
What's the final step in making instant coffee?
Once the coffee grounds are completely dried, allow them to cool. Then, grind the dried coffee again into a finer powder. This double grinding helps in achieving the right instant coffee texture.
How should I store the homemade instant coffee?
Store the homemade instant coffee in airtight containers, preferably in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. This helps preserve its flavor and aroma.
Is making instant coffee from beans worth the effort?
Making instant coffee from fresh beans can be a fun experiment for coffee enthusiasts, but it requires time, equipment, and attention to detail. The taste can be rewarding, but it may not replace the convenience of store-bought instant coffee for everyone.