Coffee is serious business across the world. Like a fine wine, Coffee too has varying flavour profiles and aroma. But the chemistry of the coffee bean varies too! A slight change in elevation or pollination can render a bitter or sweet taste to your coffee.
Read more to know the full journey of instant coffee and the difference between arabica and robusta.
First of all, What Instant Coffee actually is?
As the name suggests, instant coffee does have the convenience factor of being 'instant'. It is solvable coffee which can be made in hot water/milk and is the popular choice of coffee across the world (Coffee aficionados will get to know a lot more in this blog than they thought)
Unlike the popular opinion, instant coffee isn't a weak choice. It does contain less caffeine than bean but retains all the health benefits, specially antioxidants which are found more in instant coffee than bean coffee. It has a longer shelf life and needs no equipment.
Taste and Profile of Instant Coffee
There are mass produced instant coffees and there are premium instant coffee: The difference? Bean quality, elevation, blends, roasting technique and batch size.
Before going in the details of the factors that make a great coffee, let us first understand the journey of instant coffee: from beans to the final product.
The Journey of Instant Coffee:
From picking the beans to extracting the liquid, instant coffee too has a lot of varying flavour profiles. These are the factors in play:
Bean Quality: The war between Arabica and Robusta
Arabica beans are in the news for being superior and rightfully so. They grow at higher elevation than robusta and that gives them a complex flavour. Also the average time taken by arabica plant to ripen fully is 5-7 years whereas robusta takes 2-3 years.
Roasting Techniques: The war between spray dried and freeze dried
Spray dried coffee: Extracted Coffee liquid drops from roasted beans are spray dried by stream of hot air. This renders the dry fine instant coffee powder. This is a speed and cost effective method but sacrifices the taste in this process. It gives the burnt taste in coffee
Freeze dried coffee: Freeze dried keeps quality over quantity. In this the coffee beans are roasted and grounded and then brewed into a liquid. After filtering, the coffee liquid is frozen to -45 to -50 degrees celsius at a very thin layer. Then its broken into small pieces by freeze dryer. All the premium instant coffee in the market is made through this process.
For a premium instant coffee, look for the tag arabica freeze dried coffee and of course packaging. Commodity coffee is usually robusta or a blend with chicory and is spray dried. Nescafe is the most common brand across the world with most of the coffee blended with Robusta beans and chicory. Jarved is an upcoming brand with a premium assortment of Arabica freeze dried coffee.
But it is highly subjective because a lot of us like coffee for the bitterness too! Some like it for the sweet aftertaste. So it depends on what flavour profiles you like and what price are you willing to pay!