How is instant coffee made?
Keeping yourself awake can be a challenge at times, especially if you're not a morning person. Most people lack energy first thing in the morning but know it's important to get moving to make the most of the day. This is where coffee can step in to provide us with the boost we need.
Most people get their caffeine fix in the local Starbucks or McDonalds. This is why we're among the 10 countries that consume the most coffee. With the pandemic, though, making your own coffee at home is all the more beneficial.
Try instant coffee to make coffee from the comforts of home and in half the time. How is instant coffee made, though? Read on and learn how instant coffee is made out of regular whole coffee beans.
1. Bean Delivery
How is instant coffee made? It all starts with the beans. There are two species used for making instant coffee.
Robusta beans are the smaller variant that produces more fruit per season and typically sell at a lower price point. Despite this, though, it's not as popular as the other option. This is because it has a much harsher and bitter taste due to its higher caffeine levels.
Arabica coffee beans are widely considered the higher quality coffee. They produce a much smoother taste and with hints of sweetness and fruits.
Next up is harvesting, in which there are also two options. The best method to ensure quality is by hand-picking the coffee beans. This is a slow process, but it keeps unripe beans on the plant ready for the next harvest.
Strip harvesting uses machines to shake the plants until the fruits fall off. The cherries are then sorted per batch to get the ripe fruits for delivery. This method is faster but can cause lots of cherries to go to waste.
The beans then go through a wash to remove any debris sticking to them. These cherries are then packed into boxes and weighed. They're then shipped off to proceed with the process.
Once the beans are harvested, the first thing to do in the process of making instant coffee is to roast them. Roasting gives the beans their flavor and keeps them fresh for longer. The intensity of the flavor will depend on how long they roast the beans.
Some companies will use sound to determine how well-roasted their beans are. This is because beans will release a cracking sound as they stay in the oven. When the first crack goes off, it's a sign that the beans have a light roast.
Leaving them in the heat longer will result in a medium roast. If they hear a second crack, it's the last chance they have to remove the beans and keep them at a medium roast.
If they leave the beans in for some more time after the second crack, the beans will come out as dark roasts. These will have less caffeine but have a stronger flavor because of the oils that the beans release while they're roasting.
Once the beans reach their desired roast, it's time to grind them. This process is the simplest but takes the longest because it's vital to ensure there are no chunks of coffee beans before the next step.
Since they grind tons of coffee beans per batch, a lot of time is needed to ensure all beans are reduced into powder and are ready for the next step.
The coffee grounds are then brewed in a giant vat. Think of it as a giant French press. The process takes longer than most to ensure that the grinds incorporate themselves into the water.
The vat is only stirred once in a while as the boiling water stirs the coffee brew around. Then liquid brew is extracted out of the vat to proceed to the next step.
What's great is that most companies recycle the coffee grounds they use in the brewing process. They're useful fuel sources for burning similarly to how coal is.
The next step in the process is evaporation. This is where the water is reduced in the coffee to strengthen the flavor of the brew. The coffee is passed through heated pipes and the water is siphon off with each pass.
When only 50% of the water remains, the brew is much like a thick syrup. Keeping it heated through the process is essential to keep it from becoming too sticky. Doing this is also intensifies the flavor even further.
6. Cooling Process
Once it reaches the consistency of honey, the brew is then transported through heat exchangers. This is to help prepare the brew for the cooling process. If the brew is cooled too soon, it can cause the water inside to crystalize.
Introducing cold temperatures little by little prevents the brew from separating into its different components. This also locks in the flavor into the brew before the next step of the process.
The frozen syrup is then broken up into tiny granules and weighed into separate batches. Doing this ensures that the next step won't have trouble processing too many granules at once.
Even after freezing the syrupy brew, the remaining water still needs to be removed. You can't melt the frozen granules because doing so only reintegrates the water into the brew. So, it will need to go through another freezing process or coffee won't last as long or taste as great as it could.
For this final and most important drying process there are two methods to use.
Sublimation is used to turn solids(the remaining liquid in the coffee) into gas for this process. Doing this removes the vapor from the coffee without diluting the flavor. This process is what people know as freeze-drying.
The frozen granules are kept under tons of pressure before they extract the water. It's then transferred into a vacuum chamber where it gets heated for the last time. The vacuum sucks out the water from the mix before it can melt the granules.
Doing this also triggers the granules to solidify. The resulting product is the granules we see when we open a jar of instant coffee. This is the process that we use because it preserves the flavor and aromas of the coffee the best.
The spray drying process starts the same way as any instant coffee. It goes through the same roasting, grinding, and brewing process. The only difference is that instead of Freeze Drying they don't freeze it.
Instead, companies spray it into a drying chamber together with hot air. The hot air is around 160 C and travels around the chamber at around 400 mph. This high-velocity air atomizes the coffee as it's sprayed into the chamber.
Any water in the coffee gets evaporated and the remaining coffee solutions sucked out of the chamber before it gets too toasted. The resulting coffee is a powdered coffee that is then harvested for packaging.
This method is less expensive to complete than Freeze Drying however it results in a slightly burnt flavor and most of the aromas are not present after they heat it up.
From here, it's ready to be packaged and delivered to your door step.
8. Enjoy the Convenience, Flavor and Aromas
Instant coffee has come a long way. Now, with these new state-of-the art methods to make it while not losing the flavor or aroma, it is gaining a lot more favor world wide as a go to coffee.
The flavor and aroma that was once lost is not kept in quality instant coffees and it is also important to help boost your brain awake. It's a big part of the reason we feel good when we have a cup of coffee in the morning. Smelling a familiar aroma will give our brains a boost even before we ingest any caffeine in the morning.
With so many convenient uses and ways to make a drink with instant coffee it's no wonder the world is starting to wake up to it.
So, that's how Instant Coffee made.
Don't have time to wait for a cup of coffee in your local coffee shop? Make a cup of instant coffee, instead. Make your coffee the way you like it without going out today.
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