5 Similarities & Differences Between Instant Coffee vs Regular Coffee

There are very few drinks that are as beloved across the globe as a cup of coffee.

It is a staple at many breakfast, lunch, and dinner tables, and is a drink that is oftentimes consumed at social gatherings.

It helps us wake up and get our days started and stave off fatigue when working late into the night, But not all coffee is created equally.

The majority of coffee that can be purchased is divisible into two categories: ground and instant. Ground coffee must be brewed before drinking, whereas instant coffee can be prepared simply by mixing into a cup of hot water or milk.

Ground coffee takes longer to make and is generally considered to be of higher quality than its instant counterpart, which can be made in a matter of minutes. But how true are these assumptions? Is ground coffee really that much better than instant?

instant vs ground coffee

Overview: Instant Coffee Vs Ground Coffee: What’s The Difference?

  • Instant Coffee Is Cheaper.
  • Instant Coffee Has Already Been Brewed.
  • Ground Coffee Has Not Been Brewed Or Grinded.
  • Ground Coffee Is Healthier.
  • Instant Coffee Lasts Much Longer.

How is ground coffee made?

As the name suggests, the primary ingredient in ground coffee is just that – coffee!

Coffee beans are harvested from the coffee plant, which is primarily cultivated in what is known as the “coffee belt”, or a horizontal strip of tropical climates that encircles the globe near the equator.

Different regions and species of coffee plants produce different types of coffee, but the path from plant to cup consists of a few key steps.

Harvesting the fruits, known as “cherries”, are harvested from the coffee plant.

They are dried and cleaned so only the seed, also known as a bean, remains.

Sorting and Grading: Once the beans are cleaned and prepped, they are then sorted by size and grade. Different grades of beans, which depend on factors such as where they grew, will result in unique flavors.

Roasting: The beans will then be roasted, vastly changing their color, texture, and smell.

is ground coffee instant
Ground Coffee

They may either be distributed immediately after roasting as whole beans or will then go on to be pre-ground

Grinding: Ground coffee comes in a variety of different sizes, which may vastly affect the flavor that is produced once the coffee is actually brewed.

These sizes range from incredibly fine to very coarse, and each has its merit depending on what kind of coffee you plan to make with it.

How is instant coffee made?

The beginning stages of making instant coffee are very similar to the production of ground coffee.

Much like ground coffee, instant coffee is harvested, graded, roasted, and ground but then undergoes an additional process through which the final product is produced.

Brewing: Ground coffee that is to be made into instant coffee is placed into massive percolators where it is brewed much like how coffee is brewed at home.

Dehydrating: Once the coffee is finished, it is reduced to a more concentrated liquid, and then the water is removed, effectively dehydrating the brew until it becomes a fine powder.

This process can be done one of two ways: with extremely hot and dry air. or through freeze-drying.

However, this additional process results in a reduction of the quality of the coffee’s overall taste and smell. Depending on the manufacturer, additional steps may then be taken to improve the smell and flavor via enhancing additives.

Is ground coffee more expensive than instant coffee?

Calculating which is more expensive begins with a single question: How much does it cost to make a single cup with each type of coffee?

However, this is slightly more complicated than it initially sounds.

Because everyone makes their coffee a little differently, there is no set formula for how much product is needed to make a single cup. With this in mind, answering this question will require some estimation.

How expensive is ground coffee?

Using a standard-sized coffee pot, 1 pound of coffee grounds will generally produce about 45 50 cups of coffee, assuming that the standard coffee mug is about 5-6 ounces.

Different brands will be sold at different prices, but the average price per pound can be calculated by looking at the size of the container.

Folgers: A 30.5 ounce can of Folgers Classic Roast costs $6.92 at Walmart. This averages out to approximately $0.23 per ounce and about $3.68 per pound.

Maxwell House: A 24.5 ounce can of Maxwell House Medium Roast costs $6.28 at Walmart. This averages out to approximately $0.26 per ounce and $4.10 per pound.

Starbucks: A 12-ounce bag of Starbucks Medium Roast Breakfast Blend costs $6.27 at Walmart. This averages out to approximately $0.52 per ounce and $8.36 per pound.

Focusing on Maxwell House and Folgers, the average price per pound of coffee grounds would be approximately $3.09.

How expensive is instant coffee?

Instant coffee, on the other hand, is slightly easier to estimate. Specifically looking at instant coffee that is sold in individual packets, one can assume that one packet makes one cup of coffee.

Nescafe: An 80-count box of Nescafe Taster’s Choice House Blend Instant Coffee costs $11.87 at Walmart. This comes out to approximately $0.15 per cup.

Folgers: A 7-count box of Folgers Classic Roast Instant Coffee costs $3. 39 at Walmart. This comes out to approximately $0.48 per cup.

instant coffee brands
The Many Brands Of Instant Coffee

Starbucks: An 8-count box of Starbucks VIA Instant Coffee Medium Roast costs $5.65 at Walmart. This comes out to approximately $0.70 per cup.

Is the extra cost for Instant coffee worth It?

While these prices vary greatly, it is generally true that instant coffee is more expensive than ground coffee.

Logically, this makes sense; instant coffee must undergo additional processes to make the final product that ground coffee does not require

However, it is also important to consider the fact that instant coffee does not require the additional equipment that ground coffee takes to make.

It does not require a coffee pot or coffee filters, which can drastically increase the price needed to produce a single cup.

Over time, assuming that your coffee pot does not break or require some sort of repairs, the money that is saved by buying cheaper coffee grounds can potentially pay for itself.

However, the price for coffee filters will be a regular expense that you must account for when deciding between what kind of coffee to make.

Surely, instant coffee is much faster and easier to make. While a normal coffee pot could take around 15 minutes to complete brewing, as well as any additional time to cool to a drinkable temperature, a cup of instant coffee could be done and ready to drink in just a couple of minutes.

If you are willing to sacrifice a little more money per cup for the sake of convenience, then instant coffee is your best choice.

However, if you don’t mind waiting and would prefer to save a little bit of extra cash, then coffee grounds would be the more logical option.

Which is better?

Money concerns aside, coffee grounds and instant coffee can potentially create a completely different quality of the brew. In general, the fresher the coffee and the less processing that goes into it, the better it will be.

Not only does fresher coffee tend to smell and taste better, but the variety of grind sizes that it comes in allows for a wider array of types of drinks that can be made.

During the dehydrating process, instant coffee stands to lose much of the aromatics and essential oils that give fresh coffee its full flavor.

Furthermore, instant coffee tends to be produced from lower quality beans from the very beginning, resulting in a taste that is already inferior to coffee made from better quality beans.

In order to combat the reduced flavor that results from the dehydrating process, some instant coffee manufacturers will reintroduce additives so as to emulate the smell of fresh coffee grounds. However, it is important to note that this is added imitation and is simply a reflection of the real thing.

Is ground coffee better for you than instant coffee?

The biggest health benefits that come from drinking a cup of coffee come from its caffeine and antioxidant contents.

While nothing is good for you if consumed in excess, drinking a healthy amount of coffee on a regular basis can have a number of positive impacts on one’s health.

The health benefits of caffeine

Other than helping keep you awake and alert, caffeine also has a number of other positive effects on one’s health.

Headaches: Caffeine itself is a key ingredient in a variety of medications that are produced to help alleviate symptoms caused by tension headaches and migraines.

In these medications, caffeine serves as an additive that helps with the absorption of other key compounds, which help to alleviate pain.

On the other hand, caffeine by itself has been found to also have some positive effects on treating headaches. However, this does not mean that coffee should be consumed excessively so as to prevent even the slightest headache.

Upon regular consumption, the body can build up a tolerance, requiring more to be consumed in order to feel any noticeable effects.

Physical performance: Research suggests that caffeine consumption may have a direct impact on physical performance before strenuous activities. It can increase strength and endurance, as well as help to fend off the symptoms of fatigue.

This is largely due to the fact that caffeine consumption produces an increase in your body’s adrenaline output.

Weight loss: Caffeine can help to increase weight loss not only because it helps to get you up and to move but also because it also gives your metabolism a helpful boost.

Coffee and antioxidants

Coffee is chock full of a number of antioxidants that help to neutralize a number of potentially harmful compounds that can build up in the body.

Consuming antioxidants on a daily basis may help to reduce your risk of developing a number of diseases, including:

• Diseases of the liver, such as cirrhosis and cancer
• Alzheimer’s
• Parkinson’s
• Depression

Which is better for you: Instant Coffee vs Ground Coffee

Both coffee grounds and instant coffee have approximately the same amount of antioxidants, so their health benefits in that category are about the same.

However, through the process of brewing and dehydrating, instant coffee loses about 50% of the caffeine content that ground coffee has.

instant vs ground coffee
Instant Coffee vs Ground Coffee Diagram By DifferenceBetween

While this does mean that you would have to consume less of it to see the positive effects that caffeine has on the body, it also means that it is easier for you to consume too much and potentially become heavily dependent on it.

Caffeine dependency, while it is not technically an addiction, is not something that should be taken lightly. A caffeine dependency that results from excessive consumption can have a number of negative impacts on the body, such as:

• Anxiety
• Insomnia
• High blood pressure
• Rapid heart rate
• Withdrawal symptoms upon reducing or eliminating consumption

Instant coffee vs. Ground coffee.

Is instant coffee cheaper than ground coffee?

The answer to that depends on several factors, such as how many people drink the coffee, how much coffee a person drinks in a day, and the availability of a single cup brewing machine.

Instant coffee can be more cost-effective for a person who only drinks a cup or two a day. Instant coffee allows for making one cup quickly at a time as the need arises.

There is no waste such as is produced when making a full pot with ground coffee and only drinking a small portion.

On the other hand, ground coffee allows for the choice of a full pot that can be used throughout the day or, when the equipment is available, a single cup.

If there are multiple people in a household or an office space, ground coffee may the most cost-effective due to the ability to make a full pot of coffee that everyone can share.

Each type of coffee has its own merits and uses depending on the situation, and its cost-effectiveness varies from that.

Can I substitute ground coffee for instant coffee in a recipe?

In all reality, it depends on what you are making. Other than drinks, coffee can also be used in a variety of baking recipes to add an additional layer of flavor.

In these cases, so long as you are using finely ground coffee, there is usually no issue in substituting one for the other.

Instant Coffee

However, it is important to remember that ground coffee is usually going to be more aromatic and potent than instant coffee, and amounts should be adjusted accordingly.

As a general rule of thumb, divide the amount needed in instant coffee by two so as to determine how much ground coffee is needed. Furthermore, ground coffee will not dissolve in water in the same way as instant coffee will.

In terms of drink making, instant is really only good for making a simple cup of quick coffee.

If you are trying to make something more complex such as cold brew or French Press, then ground is always going to be the superior option.

In these cases, be sure to see what grind size is best for the specific method that you will be using so as to optimize the amount of flavor and aroma that is extracted during the brewing process.

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About Denise Opi

Hi, my name is Denise and I hail from Lille, France. I am a teacher by day, and a coffee lover by night! My family owns a coffee farm, and I am excited to share my journey with everyone!