It is a debate that has been going on for decades but nobody really has the answers but it is a debate that is interesting nonetheless.
In recent studies, it has been found that around 50% of the world population prefers instant coffee to fresh coffee, which is an incredible statistic when you consider just how many people use coffee shops or have coffee subscriptions.
However, if you head to South America or even the US, you will find the fresh coffee is the winner as it really does dominate the market.
How real is instant coffee?
Well, instant coffee is real coffee and it is made through a very clever process. Instant coffee factories contain large vats that are filled with coffee and ready for instandisation but what does the process involve? In its simplest form, it means that the coffee is dehydrated. All water compounds are removed, leaving soluble coffee compounds.
The dehydration process is either carried out by freeze drying or spray drying. During this process, some of the compounds can be lost, including caffeine and aroma compounds and this means that some manufacturers will add compounds in order to compensate for this.
What about the difference in brewing?
Instant coffee is just that – instant. You simply pop your coffee into your mug add hot water and then you have coffee. It is that simple. However, when it comes to whole beans, the process is a lot different.
The coffee has to be ground and then it has to be brewed using a filter machine or a cafeteria before disposing of the waste grounds. However, what this does, is give brewers options to explore and that is where the excitement lies with using whole bean. They can experiment with different coffees, water temperatures and more to create a coffee that meets their needs.
So who wins?
When it comes to the cost and convenience, instant does win because it works out cheaper per cup and it is extremely convenient. In contrast to this, whole bean offers so much more and so, it comes down to what the brewer considers to be important to them. Any avid coffee drinker would pay more to have a coffee that tastes unique and is more enjoyable to drink.
The quality of coffee made with whole beans comes down to the beans themselves. This is what makes it more desirable to many and why they choose to drink it over instant coffee. Often instant coffee can taste bitter and harsh completely taking everything away from what the coffee drinking experience should be.
When drinking coffee the flavour and aroma are two things that you pick up on before any coffee has passed your lips. A lot of the flavours and aroma are lost during the instantisation process and so, when someone sits down to enjoy an instant coffee, the flavours and aromas they should be experiencing were released months ago. Therefore, they really are missing out on a crucial part of the coffee drinking experience.
So, there is no doubt that instant coffee serves a purpose but it isn’t coffee as coffee should be known. You simply cannot beat fresh coffee that has been made with whole beans because it tastes and smells so good.