Instant Coffee vs. Coffee Beans vs. Ground Coffee – Which Coffee Type is Better?

Which Coffee Type is Better? Differentiating Instant Coffee from Whole Beans and Ground Coffee
Which Coffee Type is Better? Differentiating Instant Coffee from Whole Beans and Ground Coffee

Studies have shown that over 2.25 billion cups of joy are consumed across the globe, on a daily basis. This undeniably popular beverage has become such an important commodity that it has become a top agricultural export, especially for countless developing countries.

There are various reasons why many enjoy their daily dose of caffeine. For the most part, a nice hot cup of bean juice has proven to be an effective means to get the day going.

Recognized as one of the healthiest drinks, coffee contains antioxidants, it helps boost cognitive functions, mental alertness and is low in calories, well… that’s if you skip the sugary whipped variety.

Today consumers can easily find instant coffee, roasted beans, and ground-up java in groceries and of course in their favorite coffee shops. Of course, like many things, these options offer drinkers with various benefits and disadvantages as well.

When it comes to choosing whether to go for readymade granules over the brewed variety, fans are still divided.

Related: Best Ground Coffee

What is Instant Coffee?

Also called coffee powder, soluble coffee and coffee crystals, instant coffee is actually derived from coffee beans instead of artificial flavorings as many have assumed.

Made from a mixture of concentrated sugar, milk, and coffee, instant coffee was initially developed during the American Civil War for the Union army.

Its unrefined consistency which was likened to axle grease made it so unappetizing that it was discontinued. It wasn’t decades later until it was refined and introduced for commercial consumption.

Instant Coffee
Instant Coffee

How is Instant Coffee Made?

Caffeine snobs turn their noses up at the mere mention of instant coffee. Known to be made by extracting the Robusta variety, this low-end bean type is roasted and then ground up in a fine powder form.

This step is followed by brewing in order to further extract any water content left. In order to complete the drying process, the powdered beans are put through a series of freezing and spraying procedures.

The end result — crystalized coffee granules that are treated one last time to fully remove any remaining moisture while preserving its flavor before they are packed and loaded onto shelves.

Pros:

  • Cheaper than whole or ground-up beans.
  • Convenient to make and requires only the addition of hot water.
  • It does not contain as much caffeine as the brewing variety making it perfect for caffeine-sensitive individuals.
  • A large variety of options available in terms of blends, flavors, etc.

Cons:

  • Flavor-wise, instant coffee can’t hold a candle to freshly brewed beans.
  • Has less caffeine making it ineffective for drinkers who are after that energy boost.
  • Certain instant coffee variants contain calorie-filled creamers and sweeteners.
  • Has been known to contain larger concentration of acrylamide compared to a regular cup.
  • Lower antioxidant properties

How Is Instant Coffee Made? Video:

What are Coffee Beans?

Coffee beans are the seeds found inside of a coffee plant or fruit. Although not really part of the bean family, coffee beans are referred to as such since they resemble them closely in appearance.

There are at the moment 25 major genus species of coffee but only three are typically cultivated and processed for commercial consumption. The varieties are Arabica, Liberica, and Robusta.

Coffee Beans
Coffee Beans

How are Coffee Beans Made?

Before consumers get to enjoy a cup of coffee, whole beans still undergo a process to make them ready for consumption. It begins by harvesting the beans by hand.

Since the plants tend to grow in big bushy clusters, the use of mechanical harvesting implements is rarely done in order to avoid damaging the beans. Once harvested, they are dried out in preparation for the milling stage.

The coffee will then go through either a dry process or a wet process. Of the two, the wet process is considered to be a major pollutant and ecologically unsound due to the wastewater it generates. The wet process, when done, involves the usage of water in order to separate the bad beans from the good ones.

The dry process, on the other hand, is a bit more fussy to accomplish. The method involves drying beans under the sun on large slabs of cement. Once dried, they are then milled and hulled.

If not done correctly the beans can end up too dry and brittle or when not dried enough will result in molds. However, the dry process when completed properly often produces richer flavor profiles.

Cleaned and milled beans are then sorted and classified based on their size and color. They are then shipped to various manufacturers around the world. Upon reaching their destination, manufacturers then road the beans to reach the desired flavor.

Roasting time and methods vary since each one will bring out the sugars, proteins, and tannins which are caramelized in the process. These roasted beans are then packaged and put on sale.

Pros

  • Full-flavored fresh coffee every single time.
  • The consumer controls the number of calories that get added to their cups.
  • Packs a healthy punch of caffeine for that pre or post-workout jolt many people are after.
  • Contains larger doses of antioxidants compared to an instant coffee
  • Customizable with each drinker able to add sweeteners, creamers, flavorings and syrup toppings.

Cons

  • Requires a coffee grinder
  • Will take some time to prepare
  • Requires a coffee machine, coffee press, Moka pot, or similar brewing appliance in order to make a cup or a pot of the brew.
  • It is a little pricier than its instant sibling.

How Long Do Coffee Beans Last?

What is Ground Coffee?

Ground coffee is the more refined version of the instant coffee. Like the instant coffee, ground beans are easily accessible. Made from whole beans, ground coffee is so popular that even big name coffee shops, donut stores and the like have been selling their own branded versions.

While many connoisseurs would prefer whole beans for what they call an overall coffee experience, ground beans follow its lead closely. Just like whole beans, ground beans are available mainly in Arabica, Robusta, Liberica and various combination blends.

While the responsibility of grinding up whole beans falls upon consumers, ground-up beans eliminate that extra step needed before you get to brew a perfect cup of coffee. Granted that beans that are ground up minutes before brewing have been known to offer a fresh and complex flavor, pre-ground coffee is just a step behind.

Ground Coffee
Ground Coffee

How is Ground Coffee Made?

As the name would dictate, ground coffee is produced by grinding up roasted beans. This can be done by the consumer with the aid of a grinder or processor. For the most part, ground-up beans are already processed by a manufacturer, it is packaged and sealed. This leaves users with the simple step of buying the product and following its brewing instructions

Pros

  • Just like instant coffee, it is a convenient means for preparing and consuming coffee.
  • Coffee drinkers still get to enjoy a fresher batch of liquid energy.
  • There are no added preservatives
  • Is relatively inexpensive as opposed to whole beans
  • Fights free radicals thanks to its antioxidant properties
  • Drinkers can also customize their cup according to their taste preferences.

Cons

  • Is not as rich in flavor as whole beans
  • Requires a brewing gadget such as coffee pot, machine, press, etc.

Instant Coffee vs. Whole Beans vs. Ground Coffee – Final Thoughts

One to six cups of coffee a day has been noted as a reasonable amount that can still be good for a person’s wellbeing. Aside from giving drinkers that much needed a boost in energy, coffee fights toxins, prevents diseases, improves the mind, stimulates the muscles and even improves metabolism of drinkers who are angling to shed some weight.

Undeniably, many of the benefits touted by drinking coffee comes from consuming freshly brewed beans, there are still many individuals who reach for that quick and cheap fix. Even though it tends to be less beneficial for a person’s health, convenience has always been its major selling point.

And it is for that reason that many companies have capitalized on the instant coffee market, therefore, creating a breed of drinkers who do not reap the full benefits that can be found in brewed coffee beans.

For real coffee enthusiasts, the instant variety will never ever match up to a fresh steaming brew whether it is made from pre-ground beans or freshly ground up ones. That said, it is easy to see why there are numerous coffee drinkers who would find that a bag of consumer-ready ground up coffee beans(Wikipedia) to be an appealing option.

After all, most of the benefits found in whole beans are present in ground up versions and the extra steps needed to prepare it of course. This means there is no need to sacrifice the taste and flavor that is often lost in the ready to drink and instant coffee alternatives. Wikipedia

At the end of the day, the type of coffee a person chooses will always depend on various factors with personal preference as a major deciding component. As long as people the world over continue to drink coffee, companies will come up with newer varieties, types, and flavors for consumers to enjoy.

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