Coffee Beans vs. Instant Coffee
Coffee lovers around the world have their own opinions on what coffee is better and which is best left on the shelf. Most will agree though, that there is no comparison of coffee beans to instant coffee. It would be like comparing water to wine. They are essentially two very different beverages, if one would consider a cup of instant coffee a beverage. This is of course, a matter of opinion. However, looking at the process instant coffee goes through may be enough to speak for itself.
Coffee: It Is Science
To lay it out straight, instant coffee is still coffee. It is not a powder that is coffee flavored. What happens is the Robusta bean, which has the highest caffeine content, is used to create instant coffee. The lowest quality Robust bean is used for this process, but still it is a coffee bean. The bean essentially goes through a long process of roasting, then the beans are finely ground, stripped of any water content and leaving behind an extract. A dehydration process is then conducted which is typically freezing or spraying the coffee with a liquid coffee concentrate in an extreme hot environment (victorallen.com).
With all that the bean goes through, considering it is already one of the lower quality beans produced as a Robusta bean, it goes without saying that the crystalized powder that is produced from this process has lost a considerable amount of the coffee flavor. Yes, instant coffee still tastes like coffee, as it should since it is derived from coffee beans, it now comes with a bitter flavor and leaves a less than favorable aftertaste.
Not only is the flavor impacted by the dehydration process coffee beans go through to become instant coffee, but so is caffeine and the aroma (perfectdailygrind.com). For a person that does not regularly drink coffee or never drinks coffee and they choose to start with instant coffee, it is only fair to say they will probably not be impressed and wonder what all the fuss is about when it comes to coffee. Whole bean coffee has an impressive aroma that will never be beat by instant coffee and carries a powerful punch of caffeine that will wake up even the most fatigued person. A cup of instant coffee will emit almost a stale aroma versus the powerful aroma a cup of whole bean coffee that smells as though the aroma itself carries a healthy dose of caffeine itself.
When comparing the amount of caffeine a cup of instant coffee has versus a cup of whole bean coffee, the numbers speak for themselves. An 8 ounce cup of instant coffee has approximately 63 mgs of caffeine. The same 8 ounce cup of regular whole bean coffee boasts 95 – 165 mgs of caffeine (mayoclinic.org). When looking for that quick pick me up, whole bean coffee is the way to go. Metaphorically speaking, drinking a cup of whole bean coffee for the caffeine is like driving a Jeep Wrangler on a beach whereas drinking a cup of instant coffee for caffeine is like riding a scooter on that same beach. Either one can get to the water, but the Jeep will get there much quicker and with a lot less effort.
A Few More Words About Instant Coffee
The process instant coffee has been through is impressive, to say the least. However, it is going through a scientific process that eliminates a considerable amount of flavor and caffeine, which quite frankly is what most coffee drinkers crave. To think that science has come so far to be able to dehydrate a coffee bean to powder so that someone can simply drop the powder into a cup of hot water and have a beverage that somewhat resembles a passing similarity of coffee, it is impressive. However instant coffee is better used as an additive to some recipes that call for coffee flavoring. The chef wouldn’t want to add whole beans or ground coffee to a dessert that would likely result in the person eating it being surprised by the sudden crunch or potent flavor of said coffee bean. This is where instant coffee would most likely be preferred. Generally, however, actual coffee is always preferred over instant coffee.
Coffee wars are going on every day. Whether it is the argument that Robusta beans are better than Arabica beans, or if traditional brew is better than an espresso or French press. Whatever the argument, one would be hard pressed to find someone that prefers instant coffee over whole bean coffee. The flavor, aroma and caffeine are three very important qualities and all three are diminished during the process these beans go through to become instant coffee.
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