“Instant coffee has such a bad rep,” says Nate Kaiser, an entrepreneur in Pennsylvania. “It’s usually the worst-case scenario, or something your grandparents have. It’s never, never been thought of as a specialty product, and for good reason.”
Curious about why it lacked the depth of flavor and nuance of the freshly ground beans he had come to love while working at third-wave coffee roasters, Kaiser started to research instant-coffee production. He discovered two things: The coffee typically used for instant is of very low quality, and the extraction process—the way the flavor is pulled from the beans—tends to be very harsh. He decided he could do better and started Swift Cup Coffee, one of a handful of companies around the US that are changing instant coffee’s bad reputation.
What Kaiser and others have found is that instant coffee, when produced with gentler extraction methods and from the high-quality beans that have become the hallmark of third-wave coffee roasters and cafés, can be exceptionally delicious. It’s not just a convenient way to carry around a nearly-ready-to-drink serving of coffee.