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Some key differences Between Ground & Instant Coffee

When deciding what kind of coffee to have at home, you’re faced with the decision between instant & ground coffee – often you find them side by side in the supermarket isle.

But why are both types of coffee available? And more importantly, what are the differences between instant coffee and ground coffee?

1. Instant coffee has already been brewed! Both types begin in the same way – but once coffee has been roasted & ground, instant coffee has a further manufacturing process to turn it into pre-brewed, freeze-dried coffee.

The coffee goes into large towers and is brewed & then cooled and dried (through various processes) so that only the solids in the coffee are left. They are then re-moistened a little & tumbled in a drum, so they clump together to form the granules we all know and recognize as instant coffee.

In short, instant coffee is pre-brewed which has a big impact on quality & taste, which is predetermined in the manufacturing process. On the other hand, there is a huge selection of ground coffee to explore with a variety of subtleties
in flavour & taste profiles. Fresh ground coffee is full of flavour & aroma with a huge amount of depth & character. Instant coffee is often flat & bitter by comparison, and because its already been brewed once you can’t experiment with how you make it to adjust the taste of your coffee.

2. Ground coffee generally has a higher caffeine content but you can adjust it to suit your tastes! Ground coffee often has a higher caffeine content than instant coffee, and this is because of two important things that happen when brewing.
Caffeine is actually extracted from your coffee when the grind is exposed to heat & when absorbed in liquid which draws the caffeine out.

The hot water in contact with coffee literally absorbs the caffeine and the longer the coffee stays in the water, the more caffeine gets extracted. This is why coffee made in a cafetière or chemex can produce a stronger coffee in terms of caffeine
& taste. But you can easily adjust your coffee brew time to tweak it as you wish.
With instant coffee you have no control over this. The amount of caffeine extracted relies solely upon the manufacturing process that the instant coffee went through. Often instant coffee is made as strong possible.

3. Instant coffee is usually produced with inferior quality beans The reason a lot of instant coffee lacks flavour & aroma is because it’s almost always made with
commodity-grade Robusta beans.

Robusta has an earthy & bitter taste profile (unlike Arabica) and a higher caffeine content, so coffee is more one-dimensional in terms of flavour.

What further impacts this is the fact that the instant coffee has already been brewed & dried so any of the original flavour of the bean had has already been impacted/lost. 

4. Instant coffee is not sustainably sourced As discussed, instant coffee often uses lower-quality, full-sun-grown  robusta beans  rather than environmentally preferable Arabica beans.

Using sustainably grown & fair-trade beans means greater forest-biodiversity, fewer pesticides, more trees, more justice for agricultural workers, and happier, healthier songbirds. If you can find an organic instant brand with a respected eco-label (such as Bird Friendly, Rainforest Alliance, and Fair Trade), so much the better.

Here at the Stamford Coffee Company we’re big believers in using 100% Arabica coffee that has been Certified Fair Trade & Organic where possible. This means that we can produce coffee that’s really bright & full of flavour, whilst also ensuring that we are supporting sustainable supply chains & the environment. Our Ethiopian Guji is a great example of this commitment – you can see our Ground coffee range here