While many coffee aficionados tend to stay away from instant coffee, it make up around 13% of all coffee consumed.
And with there being over 100 million daily coffee drinkers in the United States alone, that 13% is quite substantial.
Though, when comparing instant coffee to freshly ground and brewed coffee, there are tons of pros and cons.
One of, and probably the most important, advantage of freshly brewed coffee is it’s flavor, when compared to instant coffee. The two different processes used to produce instant coffee strip away a lot of the flavor molecules and oils that give brewed coffee its mouthfeel and flavor profile.
Another advantage is that brewing your coffee, no matter how you do it, is a bit more intimate than just adding powder to a cup and stirring it. There is a process that goes into brewing coffee; measuring, grinding, pouring, and so many other steps that make it quite an experience.
Just remember never to pour boiling water on instant coffee, it ruins the taste. Let the water settle off the boil before pouring.
As a person who used to live off of instant coffee, despite owning a French press during that time period, and then going solely to brewed coffee, there is a worlds difference in the experience. Though, this does not mean that instant coffee should be banished from the coffee world, as it does have its uses.
For people in very constricted location, such as members of the military, instant coffee is amazing, especially as almost every nation includes instant coffee in their regional MREs.
The ease of preparing instant coffee, just adding it to hot or cold water and agitating it, means it can be made just about anywhere at any time.
Cleanup is also much easier when using instant coffee, as there is no need to dispose of spent coffee grounds. Instant coffee can also be made with very limited supplies, even just using a microwave to heat water works perfectly.
Another advantage of instant coffee is that it is shown to contain the same antioxidants that regular brewed coffee does, so if you’re someone who drinks coffee solely for the health benefits, instant might be an easy route to take.
Another advantage of instant coffee is that you don’t need to deal with grinding, excessive measurements, and short shelf lives, among other things. Instant coffee can last a really long time, even after opened, and especially if stored in proper conditions.
Instant coffee is also cheaper to get into, as all you need is the powder and water; no need to go out and buy a fancy coffee maker or a bean grinder.
Though, because of the excessive processing, there is less caffeine in instant coffee, meaning more may be needed to reach the same awake feeling that regular coffee elicits.
You lose much of the oils and aromas associated with fresh coffee when you make a cup of instant, which for most is a deal breaker although some instant coffees do now contain very finely ground coffee beans to add some complexity to the flavor.
Some will also say that drinking a certain amount of instant coffee per day can cause hallucinations, but that claim has not been scientifically backed.
Either way, freshly brewed coffee and instant coffee have their pros and cons, and it is completely personal preference as to which one is consumed.