Grocery Guides

Instant Coffee – All You Need to Know | Instacart’s Guide to Groceries



Last Updated: Oct 5, 2022

It is estimated that approximately 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed worldwide per day. People love the energy boost that they receive from drinking a cup of coffee. Instant coffee is a great way to get that caffeine fix without the hassle of grinding beans and brewing coffee grounds. 

What is instant coffee?

Instant coffee is a beverage made from brewed coffee beans. Instant coffee powders enable you to make a quick cup of coffee simply by adding hot water and/or milk to the instant coffee crystals and stirring.

What is the difference between instant coffee and regular coffee?

Instant coffee is commercially prepared, while regular coffee is sold as whole or ground beans, which then has to be brewed in one of several different ways. Some purists may shy away from drinking instant coffee. However, there are a few advantages of instant coffee.

  • Instant coffee (as the name says) is quick to prepare.
  • It has a lower shipping weight and volume, making it more affordable to transport.
  • Instant coffee has a long shelf life.
  • Preparing a cup of coffee with instant granules leaves you with less to clean up than with beans or grounds.

Coffee made from beans has more caffeine than instant coffee. A cup of instant coffee made with one teaspoon of granules contains between 30 and 90 mg of caffeine. A cup of coffee made from coffee grounds may contain between 70 and 140 mg of caffeine.

What is the nutritional value of instant coffee?

Regular coffee and instant coffee contain many antioxidants. Because of how it is made, instant coffee may even have slightly higher quantities of antioxidants. A standard cup of coffee (without milk or sugar) contains:

  • Seven calories
  • Vitamin B2
  • Vitamin B3
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium

How is instant coffee made?

In most cases, instant coffee is made from whole coffee beans. The beans are roasted, ground, and brewed. The brewed coffee is then dehydrated to remove all the water. These dehydrated crystals can be reconstituted with water to make a cup of coffee.

There are two ways of producing instant coffee:

  • Spray-drying
  • Freeze-drying

What should I look for when buying instant coffee?

There are a few different aspects to consider when selecting instant coffee.

  • Production method
  • Type of coffee beans
  • Roasting of the beans
  • Packaging

Spray-drying involves heating the coffee to high temperatures for the water to evaporate. Freeze-drying is a gentler, more expensive process. Some say that it yields a superior product with better quality and more flavor. Buy freeze-dried instant coffee.

There are two main types of coffee beans used for making coffee: arabica and robusta. Robusta is more affordable but is said to produce a harsh, bitter flavored coffee. Select 100 % Arabica instant coffee.

Before the beans are brewed, green coffee beans are roasted to bring out all the characteristic flavors that we have come to love when drinking a cup of joe. Roasting is classified as light, medium, or dark. Lightly roasted coffees are more acidic with fruitier flavor profiles. On the other hand, dark roast coffees tend to be bitter with roasted flavors such as toast and vanilla. Select dark roast instant coffee.

Most instant coffee is packaged as loose crystals or powder in a jar of sorts. However, some coffee producers take the convenience one step further by portioning the coffee powder into bags similar to tea bags or little sachets. Shop single-serving instant coffee.

How to store instant coffee

Store your instant coffee in an airtight container. Keep the container in a cupboard at room temperature. In other words, away from heat and light.

How to tell if instant coffee is bad

Coffee does not expire in the way that milk goes sour or bread goes stale. However, coffee does contain oils that can go rancid with time. While these may not be harmful, the degrading oils do change the flavor profile of the coffee.

Excessive light, heat, or moisture can change the flavor profile of instant coffee. If the container is not sealed well, the granules could absorb water with time. This will lead to the instant coffee powder becoming one solid, hard block.

How to use instant coffee as an ingredient

Coffee is a very versatile ingredient. You can use instant coffee granules to add depth to a savory dish or as the hero ingredient in a dessert.

  • Add a teaspoon or two of instant coffee powder to your nachos mince to take the flavor up a notch.
  • For a really glamorous iced coffee, make whipped coffee. Whisk together one tablespoon each of water, sugar, and instant coffee until the mixture is light and fluffy and has the consistency of peanut butter. Spoon the mixture over a glass with ice and milk and serve.
  • Dissolve a few spoons of instant coffee in milk and add to your favorite sponge cake recipe to make a coffee-flavored sponge.

What can I substitute for instant coffee?

If a recipe calls for instant coffee and you do not have any to hand, you can use the following substitutes:

  • Brewed coffee
  • Use a chicory coffee alternative
  • You can also use a grain-based coffee substitute
  • Instant espresso powders work well for baking or cooking

Find instant coffee near you

If you love the convenience of instant coffee, you will love the convenience of shopping for your groceries online with Instacart. Stock up on your favorite coffee for your daily cup of joe from retailers near you. An Instacart shopper will get your order ready for you for in-store pick-up or same-day delivery.



Instacart is the leading grocery technology company in North America, partnering with more than 1,400 national, regional, and local retail banners to deliver from more than 80,000 stores across more than 14,000 cities in North America. To read more Instacart posts, you can browse the company blog or search by keyword using the search bar at the top of the page.

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