The rise and rise of specialty instant coffee

The term “instant coffee” elicits a range of emotions in people. Instant coffee is still widely consumed and is expected to continue growing in popularity year after year due to its convenience, availability, and low price.

Because soluble coffee is available in jars, tins, single serve, and sachets and is found in the majority of households, workplaces, and hotels, you may be wondering why some consumers have negative comments about such a widely consumed product.

Instant coffee consumption has increased recently as a result of the recent Covid-19 pandemic, where people have been forced to work from home and rely on instant coffee for daily consumption.

This consumption was aided by companies introducing premium versions of instant coffee – with flavours more akin to those of a barista-made coffee – in order to attract new customers. One way they accomplished this was by incorporating micro-ground insoluble coffee beans into the soluble instant powder, which allowed for the release of varietal flavour notes that are normally lost during the manufacturing process, a brilliant idea indeed.

Instant coffee production entails numerous steps, and many of these steps result in flavour loss. For example, during the grinding process and where high temperatures are required, such as during solids extraction (typically at 180°C), during the concentration step, and finally during the spray drying step. However, when freeze-drying was used instead of spray-drying, there was a noticeable improvement in flavour due to the much lower temperatures involved in this water removal process.

However, there is a process that can preserve the flavours of the roasted beans while adapting to different requirements – such as whether the extract is to be used in a spray or freeze dryer. Or whether it’s for Ready-To-Drink or cold-brew extraction, and do so without the use of micro-grounds.

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