What Is Instant Coffee and Is It Even Coffee?

In such a java-focused world, where there are coffee shops on every corner and new innovations are coming out everyday that help you be your own barista at home, I think it’s safe to say that instant coffee is not the most delicious version out of coffee there. (Although there are a few nearly good ones—just check out the Sporked ranking of the best instant coffee.) Nonetheless, it has its place—like, say, a nuclear submarine or apocalypse shelter. In situations such as these, you may not be able to locate an entire espresso machine, so let’s find out the answer to the question: What is instant coffee?

How is instant coffee made? 

Instant coffee begins life like all other coffee, as a bean, which is then roasted, ground, and brewed. After this point, the liquid is removed through freeze drying or a similar process, and, voila, the resulting concentrate is instant coffee. So, is instant coffee “real” coffee? Yes, it’s just a powdered, dehydrated form of it. And does instant coffee have caffeine? Yes again, though generally not as much as brewed coffee. Of course, like other coffee, it comes in a caffeine-free variety as well. 

How do you make instant coffee?

Instant coffee typically comes in a jar or tin and to make it, you simply mix the crystals or powder with hot water, or, if you prefer, hot milk. Its name is not a lie, it is instant, like a grown up version of Quik Mix. 

What is instant coffee good for?

While it’s not particularly popular in the United States, in the UK instant coffee still makes up 75% of all coffee sales. And apparently, it’s good for more than just drinking. Instant coffee can be used in spaghetti bolognese or chili and as a rub for steak

Finally, did you know you can actually use instant coffee to develop film? It’s true! The process is called Caffenol and involves combining caffeic acid with sodium carbonate to develop black and white photos. It uses entirely household products, so it’s nice to know that you’ll still be able to pursue your passion for photography when you’re stuck in your bomb shelter with nothing but instant coffee to drink.

best instant coffee

Best Instant Coffee

Now that you know all about instant coffee, find out what the best instant coffee is. We did the hard work and tried brand after brand to find the best ones.

About the Author

Matt Crowley

Matt Crowley is a comedy writer living in Los Angeles. He likes maple-flavored snacks, loves every kind of cheese, and is slowly learning to accept mushrooms.

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  • Instant coffees best use is to amp up the chocolate flavor in chocolate cake.