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Instant coffee is a very popular way of consuming coffee around the world. It even accounts for more than half of all coffee consumption in some parts of the world. Instant coffee is also faster, cheaper, and has a longer shelf-life than regular coffee. This is why it’s popular in regions where regular coffee beans are expensive. Despite its popularity, there is controversy and confusion around it.
One of the main arguments is whether drinking instant coffee is as beneficial as drinking regular coffee in terms of benefiting our health. Our article addresses everything you need to know about instant coffee and its good or bad effects on our health.
How Is Instant Coffee Made?
Forget all the horror stories; instant coffee is made with real coffee, but it follows a different method. Manufacturers make it by brewing regular coffee beans, which creates a concentrated version of coffee. The water is then removed to produce the dehydrated dry powder version that we see in the instant coffee jars.
Instant coffee manufacturers follow one of these two methods.
Spray Drying: The coffee extract is sprayed into hot air, which quickly dries the liquid coffee droplets into a fine powder.
Freeze Drying: It freezes the coffee extract and then cuts the coffee into small fragments. Finally, the small fragments are dried afterward at a lower temperature.
Health Benefits Of Instant Coffee
Instant coffee does contain antioxidants and nutrients just like…you guessed it, regular coffee. Coffee, by default, is the biggest source of antioxidants in the modern diet.
Antioxidants are responsible for many of its associated health benefits, and like regular coffee, instant coffee contains many powerful antioxidants. Furthermore, instant coffee may contain even higher amounts of some specific antioxidants than other brews.
Drinking instant coffee may enhance your brain function because of its caffeine content. You can also expect a boost in your metabolism, which, in turn, helps you burn more fat.
All types of coffee can reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases. It’s been shown that regular coffee drinkers have a lower risk of getting Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
One of the well-known benefits of drinking coffee is that it helps to reduce the risk of developing type-2 diabetes. Coffee and caffeine reduce the risk of liver diseases such as cirrhosis and liver cancer. Regular intake of coffee improves mental health and promotes longevity as well.
Note: Consuming 3–5 cups of instant coffee per day is regarded as the optimal amount.
Instant Or Regular Coffee: Which One Is Better?
Caffeine Content: Instant Coffee Offers Less
Instant coffee generally has slightly less caffeine content than regular coffee. One teaspoon of instant coffee contains 30–90 mg of caffeine only. On the other hand, one cup of regular coffee provides 70–140 mg of caffeine. So, for caffeine-sensitive drinkers, instant coffee is evidently a better choice. Moreover, instant coffee is also available in a decaf version, which offers even less caffeine content.
Caffeine And Additives: Instant Coffee Offers More Control
You can control the caffeine content easily with the instant option. Brewing instant coffee requires you to scoop it with a teaspoon, which is a controlled caffeine intake. In contrast, coffee shops follow different measurements depending on their own recipes. That’s why for caffeine-sensitive or pregnant drinkers, instant is much safer. Similarly, you’re in full control of the additives to your cup as well, whether it’s added sugar, flavorings, or even processed cream.
Instant Coffee Is More Eco-Friendly
And lastly, we can argue that instant coffee is a better eco-friendly option. Because you’ll have many cups of coffee from one recyclable glass jar of instant coffee. Also, some instant coffees can be blended into cold water as well. So, it is a zero waste and low fuel-burning method.
Drawbacks Of Instant Coffee
Coffee acquires a chemical compound known as Acrylamide. It’s a potentially harmful chemical and it only forms when coffee beans are roasted.
This chemical is common in a wide range of foods, household items, and personal care products as well. Instant coffee can contain up to twice as much acrylamide as freshly roasted coffee.
Overexposure to this chemical may damage the nervous system as well as increase the risk of cancer. Note that the amount of acrylamide found in diets and coffee is much lower than what is considered a harmful level.
Therefore, consuming instant coffee should not cause any headache regarding Acrylamide exposure.
Ways To Make Instant Coffee Healthier
The biggest complaint with instant coffee is its bitter and sour taste. You can add some cold water to your instant coffee granules and gently stir them before pouring them into the hot water for brewing. The cold water cuts the sharp sour flavor and gives a smoother taste.
Adding herbs to your coffee is not only a healthy option, but also gives some surprisingly pleasant results. Some of the great herbal options are cinnamon, chicory, dandelion, star anise, root coffee, and dandy blend.
You can replace regular sugar with healthier sweeteners such as maple syrup, honey, or even golden syrup. You’ll be surprised at the unusually delicious tastes exploding from your cup with such additions.
Food scientist Alton Brown showed that adding a pinch of salt had amazing effects on coffee. A light sprinkle of salt on top of your burnt or old-brewed coffee will reduce the sourness and bitterness. Salt contains sodium that works to eliminate bitter and sour flavors.
Cocoa powder helps to reduce inflammation and protects you from heart disease, cancer, and diabetes—simply because it is rich in theobromine and phytonutrients but low in fat and sugar. Adding a scoop or two is enough for one cup of coffee.
This is not just a fancy trend as it gives coffee a silky texture while calming the bitterness–bringing out the best in instant coffee. After the brewing, add a slice of butter, and it guarantees to give you an entirely different flavor and perception of coffee.
Milk is ideal for the human body as we derive lots of nutrients from milk. Add fresh milk to your instant coffee to make it extra creamy. You may use either a 1:3 or a 1:1 milk to coffee ratio for the best results.
The bitterness of coffee and the freshness of the orange make a heavenly concoction. Caffeine and vitamin C boost the generation of Norepinephrine, which enhances the overall mood and energy. However, this fix isn’t ideal for everyone. People who face stomach pain from drinking regular coffee should avoid this method.
Instant coffee is quick, easy, and doesn’t involve a coffee maker. On top of that, it offers a very long shelf-life and is way cheaper than regular coffee.
All of these conveniences may have started the trend of suspicion about the quality of instant coffee. But as you’ve read in our article, it poses no harm to our health while offering slightly less caffeine and more Acrylamide than regular coffee.
This low-calorie beverage offers the same health benefits as other types of coffee.
Rafat Saleheen is an entrepreneur and coffee lover who has turned his passion for coffee into a business. He runs the coffee blog Coffeeatoz.com, where he shares his expertise on all things coffee-related.