What’s the difference between instant coffee vs ground coffee? Well, they are both coffee.
They both rock in their own way: nothing beats a nice, quick cup of instant coffee when you’re on the go or late in the morning.
Nothing (and we’re a little more serious about this one) also beats of fresh coffee that takes time to brew: the aroma, the flavor, that instant hit you get with the first sip.
The key difference between both is just what happens to them before they get to your local supermarket shelf.
Let talk about what makes instant and ground coffee so different...
Instant coffee is coffee that has essentially been brewed into a concentrate. It was invented to provide a quick fix to the regular coffee brewing process.
It is made from dehydrated fresh coffee, usually low-quality Robusta beans, that is roasted to taste then ground into an almost-powder like form.
Then, before it’s ready to be packaged and sent to a shelf near you, the coffee is stripped out of its water content through brewing.
Drying it out leaves behind an extract that is then spray or freeze-dried before grinding it to give us a crystalized form of coffee.
It then goes through a final treatment phase to remove any remaining water and preserve the flavor of the coffee, in which this becomes the final form of instant coffee we all know.
The result is a powder which can be stored and rehydrated at any point – the staple of what makes this coffee so instant – enabling you to dissolve it in water with no specialist equipment needed. Something ground coffee is unfortunately missing.
The process that produces ground coffee is understandably a lot more straightforward.
As opposed to instant coffee, it is made from the whole coffee bean as a start. It is roasted, bringing out all its rich oils sweetness of the coffee, and then ground into what we know as ground coffee.
The beauty of ground coffee lies in its variety; firstly, its flavor can be controlled or affected depending on how much time it’s been roasted for.
It can also vary in texture depending on how it’s been ground. This is because different sizes or textures of ground coffee are made for different brewing methods.
We’ve explained how both different types of coffee go through different brewing processes before they become ready for us to use.
So keep in mind ground coffee goes through more procedures that retain its flavor.
For that reason, grounds maintain more of that pleasant coffee acidity. It has a wider range of bodies, and it has overall flavor compounds.
Instant coffee is a bit more bitter, which is mainly because, as you’ve read, it is usually made using lower-quality Robusta.
It also almost always tastes the same.
Whereas with ground coffee, the wider range of flavor bodies means you can brew it to your own taste.
It goes without saying that all the simplicity in brewing goes to instant coffee. You put your powder in a mug, pour in hot water, and voila – instant coffee!
Ground coffee not only takes a longer time to brew because of having to steep in water for longer, but it also might require some extra equipment.
You will either need that equipment for the actual brewing process, like an espresso machine or French press, but also when it comes to straining – think filter paper or also a French press.
Instant coffee loses a considerable amount of its caffeine content to its production process.
For that reason, ground coffee retains more of its caffeine content. Ground coffee gives you twice as much caffeine as instant coffee does!
You might have noticed that coffee grounds cost a bit more than a jar of instant coffee. After all, instant coffee is usually referred to as having lower quality than ground coffee.
There’s also the cost of whichever equipment you will invest in to make fresh coffee, so keep that in mind.
At the end of the day, whether it’s a more convenient cup of instant coffee or a ritualistic cup of fresh coffee, you’d still be drinking coffee.
Instant coffee is just pre-brewed and more processed – it could be worse-tasting, but consider that the price you pay for simplicity.
But in terms of waking you up, they will both do the job! Although you might need to drink more instant coffee than fresh to get the same caffeine content, they both still have the same health benefits that come with drinking a beautiful cup of coffee.