Tutorial on Using Whole Coffee Beans to Create Instant Coffee

Instant coffee is often mocked (and rightly so) for its lack of flavor, caffeine kick, and pretty much everything else we use to evaluate coffee.

Perhaps you feel the same way about instant coffee as we do. Often mocked (and rightly so) for failing to provide the satisfaction of drinking coffee. While this post will discuss ways to enhance the flavor of commercially available powdered coffee, its primary focus is on how to make your own using freshly roasted coffee beans.

You may be in need of a method to stretch your coffee beans, or you may be planning a weekend camping trip and wish to have a good cup of coffee in the morning without bringing your heavy Moka pot or Aeropress. Forget about it, we've got you covered

A Brief Overview of the Past

Since at least the 18th century, this lowly beverage has been a part of coffee culture, despite its negative reputation. Invented and marketed by Englishman John Dring, the patented product had its first year of protection in 1771.

Rather than what we think of as instant coffee today, his method results in something more like a coffee paste that is subsequently diluted with hot water.

One type is flavored with venela, cinnamon, and musk, and is made by grinding freshly roasted coffee beans into a fine flour, then working them with fresh butter and sewett on an iron plate heated over a low fire until they form a thick paste. Another variety was whipped up with just coffee, and both were initially shaped in lucee oil-greased tin molds. ”

Dring's technique is unique in that he uses butter to thicken his coffee and then infuses it with spices like cinnamon and vanilla. Who knows, maybe we'll get to try it out for ourselves one of these days!

David Strang, a New Zealand coffee and spice merchant, received patent number 3518 for his "dry-hot air process" of making instant coffee more than a century later. Formerly, Japanese American chemist Satori Kato was widely credited with developing the first water-soluble powdered coffee in 1901 in Chicago. However, as time passed, patents such as the ones above were discovered.

While the who, when, and where of instant coffee have changed over time, the fact that consumers, merchants, and importers have always sought ways to extend the life of the bean beyond roasting remains constant.

Procedure Typically Employed When Preparing Instant Coffee

While traditional instant coffee preparation involved grinding coffee into a paste, shaping it into a briquette, and then dissolving it in hot water, today's instant coffee is produced using a slightly more high-tech approach.
Spray drying and freeze-drying are the two most common approaches to making instant coffee.

That's right, we're talking about spray drying. A fine mist of liquid coffee is sprayed through a very hot and dry chamber. This vapor is carried downward by hot air that reaches temperatures of about 415 degrees Fahrenheit.

The coffee will have ground to a fine powder by the time the mist settles at the bottom of the chamber. The powder is compacted into coffee granules, which are then measured out for easy packaging.

With the alternative technique of freeze-drying, the roasted coffee beans are found to be insoluble in water. A coffee concentrate is the result of this filtration and further extraction process. The coffee powder that is then reconstituted with water is made by freezing this concentrate at very low temperatures.

Freeze-drying has been argued to be superior, but either way, flavor and caffeine content will be affected. Further, both are commonly criticized for being of low quality, a sentiment with which we agree. Instant coffee is acceptable in a pinch, but it has a harsh, bitter flavor and a "rubbery" aftertaste, neither of which are particularly appealing.

Here's the Lowdown on Brewing Instant Coffee

In spite of common belief, instant coffee need not taste bitter and woodsy. In fact, the opposite is true Coffee beans can be "stretched" further by preparing an instant coffee recipe inspired by Turkish coffee if you find yourself running low.

We think this is a fantastic way to make delicious coffee at home. It's also convenient for vacations or extended weekend hikes. And you probably already have everything you need to make our version of instant coffee at home.

A coffee grinder, a fine-mesh sieve, roasted coffee beans, and an airtight container are all you need to make and enjoy delicious coffee.

The procedure is also easy enough to follow...

  • Turn your coffee grinder up to its finest setting and grind the beans.
  • Put the ground coffee through a strainer.
  • Put the granules somewhere airtight until you're ready to use them.
  • Avoid scorching and over-extracting the coffee by boiling fresh water and letting it cool.
  • After 10 seconds, pour the water over the coffee grounds, stir, and then flavor to taste.

While there are some similarities to making Turkish coffee, there are also some key distinctions to keep in mind.

Variation on the Theme of Turkish Coffee

Our instant coffee and Turkish coffee differ in two major ways. The primary distinction is the size of the grind. Our instant coffee recipe takes the already-fine powder used in Turkish coffee and strains it even further.

The second distinction has to do with the brewing process. Turkish coffee is traditionally prepared in an ibrik by repeatedly boiling the coffee grounds until they develop a thick, creamy consistency. In contrast, our approach is analogous to using a French press, in which the coffee grounds are steeped in hot water for a set amount of time.

Conclusion

If you're planning on going on a hike or a vacation, we hope we've inspired you to try your hand at making our version of instant coffee rather than enduring a cup of the store-bought variety. It's a fantastic method for getting more use out of your roasted beans at no cost in flavor or quality. Don't stop the grilling until we talk again.

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