Store bought instant coffee tastes less like coffee and more like week-old Coca-Cola. That’s why I never drink instant coffee, until I made my own. OMG! My homemade instant coffee is better than my competition’s fresh roasted coffee. When every second counts (late for work) or every ounce counts (backpacking), then you want to learn how to make instant coffee that's easy, fun, and tastes awesome!
Why Drink Instant Coffee?
Under normal circumstances, most people wouldn’t drink instant coffee. The reason that instant coffee doesn't usually make sense is that it tastes so bad. Secondly, good quality fresh brewed coffee is too easy and too fast to settle for instant coffee.
I can think of only two reasons why someone might consider instant coffee. If you didn't know how to easy carry and make great coffee when traveling, then you might consider instant coffee. The second reason might be when you're backpacking in the wilderness. When backpacking, every gram of weight counts. In that case, you might consider instant coffee, "IF" it was good instant coffee.
Robusta Coffee Beans & Instant Coffee
A vast majority of coffee consumed in the US come from two different kinds of coffee plants: Arabica beans and Robusta beans. Arabica beans are great and Robusta beans suck. Industrial coffee companies like Charbucks, Folgers, Yuban, Hills Brothers, etc. make their instant coffee almost exclusively from Robusta Beans. This is not good. Here’s why.
Within the coffee belt (plus or minus 25 degrees above and below the equator), Robusta beans are easy to plant, cultivate, and harvest. They grow like weeds. Their tough to kill. They’re prolific as hell. Therefore, to the industrial coffee company’s benefit, Robusta beans are dirt cheap.
The downside is that Robusta coffee beans taste very bitter and their flavor is pretty much one dimensional. In other words, if you want good coffee, then Robusta beans would be your last choice. The only upside is that Robusta beans are very high in caffeine.
Arabica Coffee Beans & Instant Coffee
Good quality Arabica coffee beans, that are correctly grown, picked, processed, dried, packaged, shipped, roasted, and brewed create a cup of coffee, which is what the Greeks had in mind when they wrote about “Nectar of the Gods”.
Unfortunately, most of the coffee consumed in the US is not 100% Arabica coffee. Many of the industrial coffee companies blend cheap Robusta beans in with their Arabica beans, thus increasing their profits.
Industrial Coffee Companies
As stated above, industrial coffee companies always start with cheap Robusta beans. To mask the bitter flavor of Robusta beans, they then burn living snot out of the beans, leaving behind little more than charcoal.
The Industrial Coffee Companies, then turn their cauldron of nastily brewed coffee into instant coffee by using a variety of industrial processes, including flash evaporation and freeze-drying.
If that isn’t bad enough, a vast majority of packaged instant coffee has been sitting in warehouses or on store shelves for months if not years. This fact alone is reason enough that instant coffee tastes like something that Astronauts would drink while on a decades long trip to Alpha-Cenauri.
Why Take The Time & Effort?
In a word. “Taste”. Making your homemade instant coffee is super easy and fun. The best part is that it tastes pretty darn good. Homemade instant coffee certainly is not near as good as fresh brewed coffee, but when you’re desperate, your own homemade instant coffee will work like magic.
Not only does your homemade instant coffee taste a lot better than store bought, but you also know what’s in that coffee. You don’t have to worry about chemicals or industrial processes that often upset your stomach.
The Best Beans
No instant coffee is going to be as good as fresh roasted and brewed coffee. That being said, if you want the best instant coffee that you can get, then you need to start with great beans.
In my humble opinion, one of the smoothest and most flavorful coffee beans in the world come from the Tarrazu Region of Costa Rica. Here at Lake City Coffee, this is the only bean that I source. If you start with quality, then you’re more likely to end up with quality.
How To Keep Your Coffee Beans Fresh
If you’re using Lake City Coffee beans, you don’t have to worry about keeping your beans fresh. We’ve already done that for you. First of all, we triple seal our coffee pouches making them air tight.
Now here’s the secrete. Oxygen is the enemy of freshness. For decades, preppers have been using Oxygen absorbers to eliminate the Oxygen in air-tight food bags. We do the same thing. In the bottom of each fresh roasted coffee pouch, I add one Oxygen Absorber.
Lake City Coffee is the only coffee roaster that you’re likely to find that uses Oxygen Absorbers. With this process, 3 months later, your coffee beans will taste 95% as good as the day it was roasted.
The Best Roast
Great coffee is made with great beans that are gently roasted the old fashion way, low-n-slow. The idea is to preserve the oils that God put into those wonderful beans. Those oils are coffee’s magic. It’s these oils that contain all the bioflavonoids, antioxidants, caffeine, aroma, and flavor.
Along with roasting low-n-slow, it’s essential to not over-roast the beans. When I roast our dark roast, I make sure that the beans are a dark brown, never black. So, which roast should you use? That depends on what you like. What roast do you normally drink? Whatever that roast is, that’s the roast you should use for your instant coffee.
How To Make Instant Coffee
This process of making instant coffee is exactly the same as grinding coffee for Turkish coffee. With Turkish coffee you grind your coffee beans as fine as humanly possible. You want to end up with coffee grounds so fine that they resemble pastry flour.
Just set your grinder to the finest setting, grind your coffee, then put the grounds through the grinder two more times.
How To Keep Your Instant Coffee Fresh
Instant coffee and “freshness” seems like an oxymoron, right? In a sense, you’re right it is. On the other hand, there is a way that you can at least keep your instant coffee nearly as good as the day you made it.
Remember what I said above in “How To Keep Your Coffee Beans Fresh”? You’re going to do the same thing with your instant coffee. So, a week or two before making your instant coffee, just jump online and find some 100cc Oxygen Absorbers. These little packets are dirt cheap and will take 99.9% of the Oxygen out of your instant coffee container.
Just pop one of these Oxygen Absorbers into each package of your instant coffee. You can keep your instant coffee in any air-tight container, like a Mason Jar, a Zip-Loc bag, a vacuum sealed Foodsaver bag, or a mylar bag. This process will keep your instant coffee fresh for years.
Lake City Coffee
Lake City Coffee, i.e., Alisha, my wife, and I (Russell) have been providing fresh roasted whole bean coffee to folks like you all over this great country since 2015. If you’re curious, check out Our Story. As a mom-n-pop business we control the destiny of coffee that we provide.
Each year we taste test over two dozen different beans from small independent farmers in the Tarrazu Region of Costa Rica. We then roast, and brew, each batch of coffee identically. We line up our coffee on the counter and start taste testing. Our goal is to find that one unusually fantastic bean that is both smooth (non-bitter) AND has a divinely well balance of flavors. We tend to lean toward beans with prominent chocolate notes.
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