Here in the States, instant coffee gets a bad rap. Only about 3.2% of all coffee purchased in the U.S. is instant, likely thanks to its bitter taste and flashbacks to dreary waiting rooms. Who in their right mind would choose this powdered excuse for coffee over the freshly brewed variety?
How about over half of the planet? That’s right. A study by Euromonitor found that many countries including China, Russia, Australia, and the U.K. all prefer instant coffee. Is there something these traditionally tea-drinking nations know about instant coffee that we don’t?
We doubt readers will be shocked to learn we wholeheartedly prefer fresh coffee to instant—but is instant coffee really so bad? Does our beloved brew’s speedy alternative deserve complete banishment to the opposite hemisphere, or could instant coffee be worth a second look?
Let’s take a deeper glance into instant coffee vs. brewed coffee.
What Is Instant Coffee?
No. It’s not glorified dirt. Instant coffee is made from 100% legitimate coffee beans that have been entirely roasted, ground, and brewed. It’s then fully dehydrated and smashed into fine powder or granules. Though minuscule amounts of the fresh coffee’s vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants may get lost due to this process, nearly all of the coffee’s health benefits remain preserved.
So if it’s just regular coffee pulverized, what creates the lousy taste? One huge factor is the frequent use of robusta beans. Many instant coffee producers prefer robusta because of its affordability. Since the harsher, more bitter robusta beans are cheaper than the sweeter arabica beans, instant coffee manufacturers can pass savings onto consumers by choosing less expensive beans.
Instant coffee’s negative reputation also stems from the product’s lack of culture and appreciation for incredible flavor. Though some small start-up companies are attempting to create a better instant coffee, the goal for most manufacturers is to sell quick, convenient, affordable products. Worrying about flavor profiles, ethically sourced beans, and straight up taste is far down the list.
Why Choose Instant Coffee?
It’s easy to understand why people choose instant coffee. It’s easier than brewing a whole batch and will still give you the buzz needed to power through the day. There have to be more advantages than simplicity though, right? Diving in with an open mind, here are some reasons to choose instant coffee.
It’s Quick & Easy
Sometimes all you need is a nearly effortless dose of caffeine. No more. No less. In these desperate times, saying yes to that scoop of instant coffee might be the right thing to do. Just add hot water, give it a quick stir, and—BOOM. A buzzy brew that’ll do the job.
We’d love to say “there’s always time to make a fresh cup,” but the truth is that sometimes—there’s not. When busy moments happen in our lives, maybe it’s ok to compromise and reach for the powdered stuff.
It Uses Less Waste
Another benefit to instant coffee includes the lack of waste. Especially if you avoid single serving packets, between filters, leftover grinds, and excess water, waste tied to brewed coffee adds up. Multiply that waste significantly if you’re using K-Cups to make your brew. With instant coffee, you end up using exactly what you need.
It’s More Portable
No matter if it’s a French press or a Keurig—coffee machines take up space. Unlike traditionally made brew, all you need to make instant coffee is the powder and hot water. This makes it a perfect drink if you’re always on-the-go, a frequent traveler, the outdoorsy type, or looking to save space.
Bringing a coffee machine to your campsite or inside your carry-on isn’t always the easiest task. Instead, throw a few instant coffee packets in your bag and enjoy a buzz nearly anywhere.
Why Choose Brewed Coffee?
We’ve learned that not everything’s awful about instant coffee and there’s a legitimate place for everything in our caffeinated world, but don’t think that means we’ll be making the instant coffee switch anytime soon. Here are the main reasons we’ll be sticking with freshly ground and brewed coffee.
More Options & Variety
In the mood for a bright, well-balanced Kona coffee? Or perhaps a fruity, floral Ethiopian? Good luck finding these options on the instant coffee aisle. With fresh coffee beans however, drinkers have access to an essentially infinite amount of choices, flavors, and concoctions. Even if you try a new coffee drink daily, you’ll never catch up with the ingenious creations imagined by growers, roasters, and baristas worldwide.
Immensely Better Taste
As mentioned above, flavor quality is typically less of a focus for instant coffee makers. One sip and nearly anyone can taste the difference. Sometimes taking the easy way is necessary, but when it comes to a small daily pleasure, why not take another few minutes and make it as delicious as possible?
Coffee Culture & Rituals
There’s nothing like the tradition of enjoying a freshly brewed cup of coffee. Whether it’s the sound of fresh brew slowly filling up your favorite mug first thing in the morning, or catching up with friends at your local café while sipping a hazelnut latte, these are moments you can’t recreate by pouring some granules into hot water.
We are also proud to embrace everything about the culture surrounding coffee. From connecting with other passionate coffee connoisseurs, discovering new beans from around the globe, and spreading the love of this amazing drink, nothing matches the feeling that preparing a fresh cup of coffee brings. Coffee’s about more than a buzz—it’s about an experience.
Glad you learned more about instant coffee, but now craving the real deal? Try our handpicked 100% Kona pure beans from Carta Coffee Merchants. Grown and harvested in one of the greatest coffee growing regions on Earth, our family-owned farm ships only the freshest beans straight to your door.