Is Instant Coffee and Ground Coffee the same?
Instant Vs Ground coffee
Both instant and ground coffee has a high consumption rate. The consumption varies as coffee lovers who enjoy a fresh cup of brewed coffee prefer ground coffee, whereas instant coffee is preferred by many for its convenience.
The powder-like form of both instant and ground coffee raises a question for many, whether they both are the same or not. The answer to this is a resounding NO. Despite both being coffee, instant and ground coffee are dissimilar. Instant coffee is an already processed coffee, whereas ground coffee is made by freshly roasting coffee beans.
Let’s find out the important factors that set apart both coffees.
How is instant coffee made?
Instant coffee is made from the same roasted coffee beans used for traditionally brewed coffee. The roasted coffee beans (most commonly Robusta varieties) are grounded, brewed, and then dried through the drying process to remove the remaining water from the coffee extract. Following this, the granules are turned into crystals or shiny powdery substances.
The drying process is challenging as it is important to remove water without changing the coffee back into liquid form. The drying of the coffee extract is done either by spray-drying process or freezing.
In the spray drying process, the coffee extracts are sprayed in a cylindrical chamber in the form of mist. The coffee extracts fully dry here and turn into almost powder-like forms as they fall at the bottom.
Freeze dryer belt at DEVEX. P.C.: devex-gmbh.de
In the freezing process, the coffee extract is frozen at a temperature of -40⁰ F to preserve the aroma. The frozen coffee goes into a vacuum-packed chamber to break down into coffee granules as the ice vaporizes.
In comparison to spray drying, the freezing process produces a high-quality coffee by retaining the flavour, aroma, and colour of the coffee to its original form. Hence, becoming the most preferred choice of many popular instant coffee-producing brands.
Ground Vs Instant coffee
The major difference that sets instant coffee apart from ground coffee is the convenience of preparation. Ground coffee requires time and a coffee maker, depending on the brewing method. On the contrary, instant coffee is a pre-brewed coffee that only requires hot water to dissolve.
As instant coffee is already brewed and processed earlier, it is less flavourful than ground coffee. It also lacks the aroma of traditionally brewed coffee.
The difference in Caffeine content:
Instant coffee has less caffeine than ground coffee. This is due to the scientific drying process. At the time of freezing or spray drying process, the coffee loses some of the oils.
Instant coffee is a dry soluble powder that requires maximum extractability. During the extraction, instant coffee loses many of its minerals and oils. Therefore, the final product will mostly depend on the bean variety used as the initial content. Much of the reason why Robusta varieties that have caffeine content are used for instant coffee is to balance the caffeine lost in the drying process.
The difference in flavour:
When it comes down to flavours, instant coffee is less flavourful than ground coffee as instant coffee is highly susceptible to volatile oxidation or flavour release. Thus, instant coffee easily picks up the moisture from the atmosphere. Though instant coffee, if not exposed to low humidity levels, can retain its original flavour for a very long time.
Another reason why instant coffee is less flavourful than ground coffee is that, as mentioned earlier, it loses some of the oils during the drying process. However, if dried through the freezing process, it greatly retains the original flavour.
The difference in Shelf life:
Instant coffee is an already processed coffee. Therefore, it can be used for a long time without losing its quality. On the contrary, ground coffee starts to lose its flavour immediately after it is roasted and grounded. Therefore, ground coffee should be consumed instantly right after it is grounded, so that it does not go stale.
Is instant coffee bad for you?
Instant coffee contains twice as much acrylamide than freshly roasted coffee beans, a chemical that forms in the food when cooked at high temperatures. If overexposed, acrylamide may damage the nervous system or increase the risk of cancer.
However, the studies that suggest this were performed on animals. Additionally, the amount of acrylamide that humans are exposed through diet and coffee is far less than as shown to be harmful.
On the brighter side, instant coffee carries similar health benefits as traditionally brewed coffee. It provides several health benefits such as lowering your risk of type 2 diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. Despite having less caffeine content, instant coffee has the same antioxidants as regular coffee, making it a low-calorie, healthy beverage.
Related read: Benefits of Coffee for Healthy Living.
So, there you have it. Ground and instant coffee are not the same. While it is a great feeling to brew your own cup of fresh coffee, it is okay to use instant coffee when you are running out of time. However, keep the consumption in moderation as an excessive amount of caffeine can bring several side effects.
Check out our ground coffee collection at the Don Carlos store. Make an excellent cup of Italian-style espresso from our premium quality Italian ground coffee, which includes selected varieties of Arabica and high-grade Robusta.