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The Scoop on Instant Coffee


At a time when coffee shops are popping up on every corner and taste profiles are leaning toward higher-end specialty varieties and flavors, you might be surprised to learn that almost half the world prefers instant coffee.  That’s right…the dehydrated crystals that you combine with hot water to make a cup of coffee – instantly.

While instant coffee was a saving grace during war time and considered modern and high-tech in the 1950s and 1960s, many people in the U.S. find it odd that it still finds favor. We decided to take a closer look at how people here view instant versus ground.  Here’s what we found:

Instant coffee is most popular among newer coffee drinkers.  That would make sense as it’s hard to imagine that specialty coffee lovers who thrive on the rich flavor and goodness of their coffee each day could ever prefer the instant variety.   Yet, there are those people who do.  Instant coffee is often preferred among people who are new to the coffee craze and view the stir-in crystals as a way of easing their way in.

In a story that ran in The Washington Post, Dana LaMendola, an industry analyst at Euromonitor was quoted as saying, “In newer coffee-drinking regions, instant coffee is appealing because of its ability to satisfy the needs of new coffee drinkers and their evolving tastes.  Unlike established coffee markets, where coffee is a product with well-defined perceptions of taste, strength, and origin, in emerging coffee markets, coffee is viewed as a multi-purpose product with endless functional and flavor possibilities.”   LaMendola also points out that instant coffee is most popular in Australia and least popular in North America.


There are different ways to fill the need for speed.  While instant coffee is arguably the fastest cup in town, it simply doesn’t make the grade in the U.S. when it comes to quality and flavor.  Americans move at warp speed and want their coffee at the ready.  Instead of turning to instant, though, they are feeding their need for speed with a quick dash into the corner café, or with single-serve coffee varieties  – that continue to grow in popularity.


Au naturel is in demand. Instant coffee is manufactured from ground coffee using one of two methods:  freeze drying or spray drying.  Both require a great deal of extra processing as opposed to green coffee beans that are shipped free of additives or preservatives.  This is especially significant as the coffee industry trends toward the desire for freshly ground beans, as well as organic, fair trade and single-origin varieties.  In fact, the Seattle Times reported that, “By 2018, market-research firm Mintel expects consumers to spend nearly as much on coffee pods as they do on bulk coffee.”


Freshly ground coffee is better for you.  That’s because coffee is naturally rich in antioxidants that help keep our cells healthy.  The processes used to make instant coffee significantly reduce the number of antioxidants, lowering your body’s ability to fight off potentially risky free radicals.


It all comes down to taste.  While bitter may be better for some people, regular and specialty coffee drinkers tend to avoid it at all costs.  Instant coffee is made primarily from Robusta beans which tend to be stronger and more bitter than the smoother, sweeter taste of Arabica beans and/or a blend of the two.  That said, Robusta beans can be delicious when used in freshly brewed vs. instant coffee.


It really all comes down to your personal taste.  If you’re a Grande Kaffe customer you’re already familiar with how great, freshly ground and flavored coffee tastes.  If you’re new to coffee, we encourage you to try ours first.  We promise you’ll become a fan for life – instantly.