Beverage Knowledge

What is Instant Coffee – Is Instant Coffee Bad For Health

what is instant coffee

For those who don’t have time to wait for each drip, instant coffee is the perfect choice to enjoy the delicious taste of coffee without having to spend too much effort. However, many people are perplexed about whether instant coffee is harmful to health or whether instant coffee is really made from real coffee. Nawon Food and Beverage will explain everything about instant coffee in the article below. Let’s see the answer.

what is instant coffee

What is instant coffee

Instant coffee is a type of coffee produced from roasted and ground coffee beans. After completely removing insoluble substances, the remaining coffee is in the form of dry crystal or powder, some with added sugar and milk powder. When enjoying instant coffee, you need to dissolve it in hot water and enjoy it. There is no need to wait; quick and convenient is what instant coffee brings. Besides, instant coffee has a long storage time, and the volume and weight when transported are lower than roasted and ground coffee, so this product brings much commercial value to coffee manufacturers and traders worldwide. Revenue from instant coffee is estimated at more than 20 billion USD, always trending up over the years and equivalent to the revenue of ground coffee shops.

Origin of instant coffee

Although the history of coffee began as long ago as 1671, instant coffee was not invented until 1901 by a chemist named Satori Kato, who was the first to introduce instant coffee into production. Instant Coffee Manufacturer was George Washington. In 1771, the first “instant coffee” was made in England under the name “coffee compound” and patented by the British government.

satori kato - person invented instant coffee

Instant coffee first appeared on the market in the 1950s and quickly became one of the most popular types of coffee. This product was first invented in Invercargill, the largest city in Southland, New Zealand, in 1890. Solid instant coffee (instant, crystal, or ground coffee) is dehydrated and packaged solids available at used retail stores. In addition to solid form, instant coffee is also produced in concentrated liquid form to make drinks or to process other foods.

Although it can still be damaged if exposed directly to air, instant coffee generally has a longer shelf life than roasted and ground coffee, maintaining long-term stable quality.

Caffeine in instant coffee

There are about 96 milligrams of caffeine in a 12-ounce cup of instant coffee. That’s less than the 136 you’d find in a 12-ounce cup of brewed coffee. Therefore, instant coffee suits those who cannot consume much caffeine or do not want to affect their sleep. 

Some people think drinking instant coffee will help avoid insomnia, but you should also be careful to consume a moderate amount. If you drink too much instant coffee, you can still have insomnia.

Ground coffee vs instant coffee

ground coffee instant coffee

The basic difference between instant coffee and ground coffee is the ingredients and how to enjoy them. Details are as follows:

Brewing time

Simplicity in the coffee world is like grabbing a quick cup of instant coffee. Measure the granules, add hot water, and enjoy a hot cup without waiting. If you’re not into the whole patience and prep routine of pour-over coffee, instant coffee is your go-to savior.

When it comes to ground coffee, you’re dedicating a few minutes to prep time, not to mention cleaning up afterward. Some don’t mind, but if you’re all about living fast, instant coffee is the speedster you need.

Brewing Method

Instant coffee skips the learning curve and specific techniques. Just add hot water, stir and the coffee is ready. It’s pre-brewed before purchase. On the other hand, ground coffee involves extracting coffee from beans using various methods like Chemex, French Press, Aeropress, or drip coffee maker, each offering a unique experience.

Flavor

Instant coffee often uses robusta beans, producing a more robust, bitter taste. Freeze-dried options, especially organic ones, can provide a premium flavor without the hard-to-pronounce chemicals. Fresh-brewed coffee retains essential oils, offering a fuller, richer taste with various flavor profiles.

Caffeine Content

As we mentioned above, instant coffee usually made with robusta beans, has a higher caffeine content to compensate for any loss during production. Brands may vary, but most contain about 20-45% caffeine in a regular cup. Ground coffee retains more caffeine due to the brewing process, with variations depending on brand, method, and ratios.

Shelf Life

Instant coffee boasts 2-20 years of shelf life when stored properly. Coffee, in general, has a six-month shelf life, requiring dark, calm, and moisture-free storage. Coffee canisters help maintain freshness.

expired instant coffee

Usesage

Instant coffee is perfect for the on-the-go lifestyle – camping, hiking, or traveling. It’s also convenient for baking, offering a long-lasting, punchy flavor. If time is on your side, go for ground coffee, ensuring a flavorful, strong cup every time. Bonus: recycle coffee grounds for facial scrubs, plant fertilizer, freezer deodorizer, and stain remover.

How instant coffee is made

Instant coffee products are produced by roasting – grinding – drying method.

Roasted coffee, after being ground into powder, is used as the main ingredient to produce instant coffee. This ingredient is used as the base for 2in1 coffee blends; 3in1; or 4in1,…depending on the combination of components of the manufacturer. For example, 3in1 instant coffee usually comprises 3 main ingredients: instant coffee powder; sugar, and milk cream.

How instant coffee madeOverview of the instant coffee production process:

1. Roast and grind green coffee

This is the first step in the instant coffee production process. According to international standards, each batch of coffee needs to be roasted within 18 to 25 minutes. The more advanced the roasting technology, the more fully the natural flavor of the coffee is preserved. The standards for coffee beans after roasting are: the beans are cooked evenly from the inside out; no burnt edges; bloom evenly; no calluses; and they all colors. After roasting, coffee needs to be ground into fine powder.

2. Extraction step

This step collects soluble substances in roasted coffee powder into water in the instant coffee production process. The extraction equipment is a tower containing temperature-insulated coffee powder. The manufacturer can moisten the coffee powder with saturated steam before pumping water into the extraction.

Hot water will be pumped in from the bottom of the tower; through the column of roasted coffee powder in the tower. The water used for extraction must ensure a temperature between 80 and 90 degrees Celsius. At higher temperatures, the water will extract even bad substances.

Here, the phenomenon of extraction of soluble substances takes place. The coffee solution is collected at the top of the tower. The extraction is carried out many times to limit the amount of fine powder that dissolves deeply into the water during extraction. The extract, when passing through the towers containing coffee powder, will have an increasing amount of solutes. The concentration of extracted coffee solution can reach 20 – 22%.

3. Concentration stage

In the extraction stage of the instant coffee production process, we obtain a coffee solution with a 20 – 22% concentration. At this concentration level, we cannot dry it yet. This is the reason we need to concentrate the extract to a concentration of 30 – 33%. This is the appropriate level and helps the drying process go smoothly.

The most common concentration method is the vacuum concentration method. At this time, the coffee solution is pumped into a heating device. Water will evaporate under the influence of temperature. The vacuum created by the barometer will absorb water vapor and condense it in the condenser. When the concentration of the coffee solution meets the requirements, the concentration process will stop.

4. Dry the coffee solution

This step has the effect of converting the concentrated coffee solution into powder form. The method applied is spray drying. At this time, the coffee solution is pumped into the top of the cyclo. A disc perforated with many small holes rotates at a very high speed, causing the coffee liquid to enter the cyclo in mist. They are dried by hot dry air blown into the cyclo. Instant powdered coffee is collected at the bottom of the cyclo. After drying, ground coffee has a moisture content of 1 – 2% and a dark brown-black color.

5. Repatriation technology

After grinding, the aromatic substances are recovered from ground coffee because the extraction and spray drying can significantly destroy the natural coffee aroma. After obtaining instant coffee powder, the manufacturer applies repatriation technology so that the finished instant coffee has its original natural aroma.

The instant coffee production process is carried out using specialized machinery and equipment. The more modern the technology, the better the taste of the finished instant coffee.

Is instant coffee bad for you

Like other types of regular coffee, instant coffee also contains many powerful antioxidants, bringing some benefits to health and the body. There may even be more antioxidants in instant coffee due to the production method.

A study in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology conducted in 2022 showed that drinking 2 to 3 cups of instant, ground or decaffeinated coffee daily can help reduce cardiovascular disease and mortality due to cardiovascular disease.

Besides, a cup of instant coffee contains about 4 kcal of energy, providing small amounts of potassium, magnesium, and niacin (vitamin B3). 

Although it brings some benefits, coffee, including instant coffee, has never been considered a healthy drink. Consuming too much instant coffee will cause you to encounter some of the following health problems: 

Concerns with Additives and Processing

Instant coffee often goes through processing that involves the use of additives and chemicals, which might include anti-caking agents and flavor enhancers. Consistent consumption of these additives could raise concerns about their long-term impact on health.

Potential for Acrylamide Formation

The methods of processing instant coffee at high temperatures may contribute to forming acrylamide, a potentially harmful chemical. This substance has been associated with certain health issues and tends to develop when specific foods are cooked or processed at elevated temperatures.

acrylamide in instant coffee processing

Environmental Impact of Packaging

The individual packets and containers used for instant coffee result in plastic waste, contributing to environmental concerns. Improper disposal of these packaging materials can harm the environment, especially in areas without effective waste management systems.

Health Implications of Excessive Caffeine

Instant coffee’s ease of consumption might unknowingly lead to consuming more caffeine. This is especially true for instant coffees with added caffeine, potentially resulting in excessive intake if not consumed with awareness. High caffeine consumption is linked to various health issues, including an increased heart rate, heightened anxiety, and disruptions in sleep patterns.

Conclusion

For those looking for a simple coffee experience, instant coffee has emerged as a useful alternative to the traditional coffee brewing process. The key is simplicity—just mix it with hot water and you’re ready to enjoy your cup. While flavor preferences may vary, it should be noted that instant coffee offers similar health benefits to regular coffee, with slightly lower caffeine content. When it comes to choosing between instant coffee and brewed coffee, feel free to choose according to your personal preferences. Whichever you prefer, both can contribute to supporting heart health and maintaining energy levels, as long as enjoyed in moderation. 

For those looking for a simple coffee experience, instant coffee has emerged as a useful alternative to the traditional coffee brewing process. The key is simplicity – just mix it with hot water and you’re ready to enjoy your cup. While flavor preferences may vary, it should be noted that instant coffee offers similar health benefits to regular coffee, with slightly lower caffeine content. When it comes to choosing between instant coffee and brewed coffee, feel free to choose according to your personal preferences. Whichever you prefer, both can contribute to supporting heart health and maintaining energy levels, as long as enjoyed in moderation.
Another small note, not all instant coffee products on the market are of the same good quality and made from real coffee. Some commercial manufacturers may add other additives to their products. Therefore, choose famous and quality instant coffee brands. Refer to Nawon’s article 15 Best Instant Coffee Brands in the world for suggestions.

FAQ about Instant Coffee

Is instant coffee real coffee?

Yes, it is. Instant coffee is made from real coffee. Other ingredients may be added such as milk powder or preservatives, but in general, instant coffee is still real coffee.

Is instant coffee healthy?

Instant coffee and coffee, in general, have some health benefits, but they are never considered healthy drinks because the amount of caffeine in coffee can overstimulate the body.

Is instant coffee bad for your kidneys?

There is no conclusive evidence to suggest that moderate consumption of instant coffee is inherently bad for your kidneys. Like any food or beverage, moderation is key, and individual responses to coffee can vary. Caffeine, an active ingredient in coffee, is not inherently bad for you or your kidneys. However, there are other ingredients in the instant coffee product you drink. Therefore, if you have kidney problems, consult a specialist before consuming any instant coffee products.

Can you eat instant coffee?

yes you can eat instant coffee but you shouldn’t. Instant coffee is prepared for drinking, not eating. Some ingredients may affect your digestive system. In addition, the taste of instant coffee, without sugar or cream, is very unpleasant.

Is coffee powder the same as instant coffee?

Coffee powder is the word used to refer to coffee beans finely ground into powder. Not instant coffee. But in some cases, people often use coffee powder to refer to instant coffee, so it’s easy to get confused.

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