Everything you need to know about instant coffee

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Instant coffee is older than you think (and better than you think these days).

Daniel Grizelj / DigitalVision / Getty Images

Who does not want Coffee in an instant, right? Well there’s more than one way to have Coffee in a jiffy, but one of the simplest is “instant” or “soluble” coffee, which does not require all brewing at all, just a quick mix of hot water. (Or hot milk, if you feel like it.) are those magical flavor crystals, though, and are they really any better than regular old brewing of beans and water? Here’s everything you need to know about instant coffee.

History

While the first moment recorded Coffee was developed in New Zealand in the 1880s, the product really spread during World Wars I and II when it was first included in soldiers’ rations. According to a senior army official, coffee was “as important as beef and bread”, saying it “gives courage and strength and maintains morale” as reported by NPR. The relative luxury of being able to make coffee in the trenches quickly took hold and many didn’t even bother to heat the water. Returning GIs brought back their taste for things at the end of the war, which was also the dawn of the convenience food craze that gripped America and never did. loose.

Read more: The best coffee accessories of 2019

Coffee granules on a teaspoon.

Dorling Kindersley / Getty

Instant coffee has also taken off in places where brewing technology, free time and money are scarce, and despite the propensity of some cultures to poke fun at instant coffee, you might be surprised to know that around half the world drinks it according to a report from 2014 by Euromonitor and The Washington Post, with Asia Pacific, Eastern Europe, Mexico and the United Kingdom representing three of the largest consumers, followed closely by mainland China.

Since the 1940s, around half of the world’s coffee production has been devoted to instant coffee – a market valued at around $ 28 billion in 2016. Most are made from a blend of Arabica and Robusta coffee (read: high and low quality beans, with prices to match), or pure Robusta, which is why you’ll often find it for a third of the price from its brew-by-the-bean counterpart.

Treat

The commercial process for making instant coffee comes in two forms: freeze-drying and evaporation. In either case, a brewed coffee blend is typically brewed on a commercial scale (i.e. gallons and gallons at a time) and then either flash freezing or dehydrating the finished liquid coffee. has all its, well, “liquid” removed, leaving behind pieces of finished, crystallized coffee that simply must be soaked in water to “come back to life” like no other dried food item. The drink obtained, depending on the quality of the instant product and the crystal / water ratio, can be either thick and viscous like an espresso, or thin and watery like a desperate gas station mug.

Flavor

As with any coffee on the face of the earth, your mileage will vary in flavor, depending on the quality and freshness of the coffee itself, your brew recipe, the quality of the water, etc.

As a rule of thumb, however, commercial instant coffee brands aren’t necessarily designed to be savored – if coffee was more of a pleasure than a necessity, you’d probably be willing to wait longer than 25 seconds for a better cup. . Most of the brands available in supermarkets are made with a majority of Robusta coffee, which is a low-lying, disease-resistant species of coffee whose flavor tends to have harsh, almost rubbery notes. (Which, of course, is good if you add a ton of milk and sugar, as most instant drinkers do.) That said, most instant coffees are very recognizable by the taste of coffee, and some are even half decent – especially the Arabica-based ones: This is a segment of the market that grows as free time gets shorter and interest in actually finding coffee grows.

Cooked

Here’s an added bonus of instant coffee: it’s an easy ingredient to add to the taste of coffee. dessertsbreads dry friction, spicy Chili, groats, muffins, Pancakes, milkshakes – you name it. Rather than having to brew liquid coffee and trying to adjust the dry / wet ingredient ratios, a simple scoop or two provides a rich, deep coffee flavor to just about any dish, without disturb you. Be careful, too much can be overwhelming (since this is a sort of concentrated coffee flavoring flavor), but that little bit will go a very long time and deliciously.

Instant coffees to try

Sudden coffee

If you want to try true specialty instant coffee – that’s right, legitimately delicious coffee – try a subscription to Sudden Coffee, a premium single-serve brand of coffee, designed and executed by several Champion Finnish barista, Kalle Freese. . Subscriptions start at $ 16, but you can also buy a la carte, though the company is currently experiencing delivery delays.

Amazon

Introduced in 2009, this instant version of the mall favorite is actually a very apt representation of the flavor of Starbucks’ on-site brewed coffees, and that’s what is typically served on planes that “proudly feature Starbucks coffee.” . When you’re on the go or stuck in an office area without a coffee maker, those small, individual portions can really go by in the blink of an eye. Prices vary depending on the roast, but you can get a box of 50 Italian roasts for $ 38.90 on Amazon (or $ 36.96 if you subscribe).

Walmart

The uninitiated may vaguely recognize the iconic yellow-red-blue of the Bustelo label, but for enthusiasts there is only one coffee: Cafe Bustelo. This iconic brand of Cuba, Puerto Rico and New York is loved by Americans of Caribbean descent, who mix it with milk froth and sugar for a quick coffee on a busy morning or afternoon. Score a 10-ounce 3-pack for $ 8.23 ​​at Walmart, or buy it at single serving packages like Via.

This story was written by Erin meister and originally posted on Chowound.

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