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How to Make Instant Coffee Powder at Home

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Among the many ways in which coffee is enjoyed, there is none as controversial as the instant kind. Coffee lovers and experts tend to shun this more convenient version of the “real thing”. Some people don’t consider it true coffee, while others love it – or at least drink it out of necessity, but the fact remains that instant coffee is a thing. Instead of just tolerating its existence, perhaps we could take a deeper look into what it actually is, and where the difference between coffee from beans and instant coffee lies.

Instant coffee is undoubtedly a faster, more convenient way of getting your caffeinated pick-me-up. It’s literally crystals or powder, added to hot water, et voila! It doesn’t seem quite as “classy” as brewing a cup from beans or grounds, but the potential for it to be just as tasty might be there.

Now before we launch into the DIY instant version, we’re going to talk briefly about the process of making instant coffee. Here goes:

Instant coffee is made by either a freeze-drying method or a spray drying method. The former is more involved and requires coffee to be cooked down into an extract, which is then chilled until it becomes a coffee slurry of sorts. It’s then further cooled to approximately -40 degrees Fahrenheit, which results in the formation of coffee slabs. These slabs are then turned into granules which are put into a vacuum, removing all the ice, leaving you with nothing but coffee crystals.

The latter version of instant coffee production occurs by spraying a liquid coffee concentrate out into hot air, in a very fine mist. Due to the temperature of the air being as hot as the surface of Venus (just kidding – kind of… the air temperature does have to measure 480 degrees Fahrenheit, after all), by the time the fine coffee mist hits the ground, it’s already a dried powder.

So, there you have it. The ways in which we find ourselves with the (as some might call it), pseudo coffee, a.k.a. instant coffee.

 Okay, perhaps some people aren’t partial to instant coffee, but hear us out; there are pros to drinking it.

  1. It’s still derived from coffee beans, which means that yes, you’re still getting similar benefits from instant coffee that you would from a cup brewed from beans or grounds.
  2. It’s quicker to make. When you’re pushed for time, a cup of instant coffee (or is it an instant cup of coffee – something to think about there), it’s a great substitute for a cup of regular joe.
  3. It’s cheaper to produce and easier to transport, which means that it keeps pretty well too. Hiking, camping, or vacationing, in general, doesn’t preclude a cup of coffee when you need one.
  4. There are new flavor varieties which makes it a widespread consumable that’s easier to find in more places. There’s no need to go without it then, should you happen across a kind you like.

As with just about everything in life, there are some cons to drinking instant coffee; we’d be doing a great disservice if we didn’t mention those, so here they are:

  1. There is a risk of other chemical compounds making their way into instant coffee, namely, acrylamide. While the extent to which this compound could pose a risk, hasn’t been researched fully, it’s still something to think about.
  2. While it still provides similar benefits to regular coffee, its antioxidant levels are lower due to the way it’s processed and produced.

Now that we’ve gone over the reasons why you should or should not choose (it’s up to you, of course) to drink instant coffee, there are ways to make it uniquely yours.

You see, instant coffee is versatile in that you could make a mixture, specifically catering to your taste buds, and store it for later use, time and time again. It’s quick, easy, and can be very tasty.

Before we begin it must be noted that it is not easily possible to make instant coffee powder from scratch at home. This is due to the extremely low temperatures required using freeze drying, and the exceptionally high temperatures needed for spray drying – neither of which can be achieved or should be attempted at home, in a non-commercial setting.

What is possible, however, is our ability to create an instant coffee mix that is adaptable and thus can be made into a brew just for you.

So how do we do this? Like so:

If you have a food processor, use it to pulse the milk and cocoa powders, sugar, and melted coconut oil into a fine powder. If you don’t have a food processor, use a strainer or sieve to press the ingredients through and whisk to break any larger lumps up. You can store this in an airtight container, or you can add your own creamer blend at this point and then store it.

Making a cup of this delicious mixture will require 3 tablespoons of the mix in 12 oz of boiling water. Stir well and enjoy!

But what about caffeine content in instant coffee?

In comparison to regular coffee, the instant kind tends to have lower caffeine content. With regular joe registering caffeine doses of between 70 and 140 mg per cup, instant coffee contains about 30 to 90 mg of caffeine. This is great for people looking to decrease their caffeine intake.

Does it still have health risks?

Studies tend to be inconclusive, so the best answer to that question, considering all the processing instant coffee goes through is, maybe. While the formation of acrylamide, a chemical compound resultant from roasting coffee beans, is present in instant coffee, it’s present in the regular stuff too, just in much smaller amounts. It’s thought to affect the nervous system and potentially increase the risk of cancer, however, the levels of acrylamide found in instant coffee, studies show, are below what’s believed to be the harmful threshold.

Whatever your preference may be, instant coffee provides a cheap and convenient way of getting your daily dose of caffeine, with the added benefit of still tasting like coffee. Furthermore, the ability to customize instant coffee and turn it into a bespoke tailored blend specific to your palate, is quicker and easier to achieve, than with regular grounds or beans. It’s all a matter of what you have or are willing to make time for, and maybe it’s also about stepping outside your coffee bubble a little – try something new; after all, you never know what you’ll like until you try it!

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