Instant coffee vs ground coffee isn’t really a fair debate but it’s a topic that gets discussed quite often.
So, let’s get into their differences and which one is better in which area.
What is Instant Coffee?
First of all, what is instant coffee by itself?
Instant coffee is essentially dried coffee. As in, coffee grounds are first fully brewed to make a coffee concentrate. This can then be dried in two different ways and is turned into instant coffee.
The first way to dry is called spray drying. It’s the cheaper of the two and a lot of the natural aroma and flavors of coffee are lost in this way.
The other is freezer drying which is the better method but more expensive. Hence, the resulting coffee is better in taste.
What is Ground Coffee?
Ground coffee is when the coffee beans are dried and roasted and left there. Then they are either ground and packaged as ground coffee or you can buy whole beans and grind them yourself.
You can be pickier with ground coffee. You can select from various roast options and use different types of equipment to make the coffee. Anything from an espresso to plain black coffee can be made from ground coffee.
Instant Coffee vs Ground Coffee
While it is unanimously agreed that ground coffee tastes better than instant coffee, there are some cases where picking instant coffee can be better.
Continue reading to find out more.
The biggest difference even before you taste your coffee is the aroma.
When you make coffee from fresh grounds, you can smell it around your entire home. But instant coffee has virtually no or very faint smell which is a definite downside.
So, ground coffee takes this one.
Quality of the Coffee
There are mainly two varieties of coffee beans; Arabica and Robusta. Arabica beans are better than the two.
The sad thing is that instant coffee is often made with Robusta. However, there are a few Arabica options although they are more expensive.
Even if you can’t select between instant coffee vs ground coffee, you should still pick the Arabica variety in both of these.
Of course, no discussion about coffee can be complete without the mention of its caffeine content.
One cup of instant coffee has 60-80mg of caffeine while brewed or ground coffee has 80-120mg of caffeine in one cup.
Ground coffee has a higher caffeine amount. It makes sense because hot water extracts the caffeine out of the grounds as we brew the coffee. While, with instant coffee, it just dissolves in water as is.
With ground coffee, you have more control over the caffeine you are consuming. For instance, you can adjust the water to coffee ratio to get stronger or less strong coffee.
On the other hand, instant coffee has a fixed amount based on the manufacture. If you add too much then there is a high chance that the coffee will taste weird or you’ll have to add more milk or sugar to balance.
You can’t brew instant coffee which limits the ways you can consume it. The only way to drink instant coffee is to dissolve it in water and top it with milk and other flavorings.
You could maybe froth the coffee to get a latte-like drink but that’s the extent of it.
Ground coffee offers a wide array of options provided that you have the equipment for it.
You can use an espresso machine or a Moka Pot to brew espresso. Then that can be used to make a latte, cappuccino, macchiato, etc. You can use it in a French Press and make a wonderful cold brew.
The point stands, you get a lot of options with ground coffee that are missing when you use instant coffee.
Ease of Use
Now, onto some of the advantages of instant coffee.
You can’t deny that ground coffee takes time to make. Even with modern machines, you need to set aside some time to make your coffee.
On the other hand, instant coffee is, well, instant. You can just add hot water to it and it’s ready.
Furthermore, it is extremely easy to use instant coffee if you are traveling.
Although there are a few options to travel with ground coffee, it’s more efficient to go with instant coffee if you are camping or out somewhere where coffee won’t be served to you.
Another advantage of instant coffee over ground coffee is that it lasts for a longer time.
You can store instant coffee in a cool and dark place for months without it affecting the taste. But ground coffee only lasts a few weeks even in the best circumstances.
Some people may find it difficult to keep shopping for ground coffee especially if it’s not easily accessible. So, instant coffee can be a life-saver in that situation.
Lastly, the price difference of instant coffee vs ground coffee. Ground coffee is almost always more expensive than instant coffee.
You can check out the prices for both below with our recommendations. But if you are on a budget, then you might have to get instant coffee.
Now that we have dealt with the differences, here are a few options for both.
Instant Coffee Recommendations
As I have mentioned, ground coffee is the better choice but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t good instant coffee options.
You deserve to drink good coffee even if you can’t get ground coffee.
The most popular instant coffee brand has to be Nescafe so it makes perfect sense that it’s on this list.
Two great options from Nescafe are:
Nescafe Taster’s Choice is a light to medium roast and gives a well-balanced cup of coffee.
Secondly, a great Arabica instant coffee is Nescafe Gold. It is a well-rounded cup of coffee.
Since a lot of people like Starbucks, they also like their coffee options for home.
Starbucks VIA Instant Coffee is the best one from their wide variety of options. It’s available in both medium and dark roasts and has quite a lot of flavors to choose from.
They have also picked Arabica beans and are packed in individual packets so you don’t even need to measure it out.
However, some have complained about its packaging being defective.
3. Mount Hagen
An instant coffee that pretty much ticks all boxes is Mount Hagen‘s.
They are made from freeze-dried Arabica beans. They are an Amazon’s Choice and are Climate Friendly.
It is a smooth coffee and doesn’t taste too acidic or bitter.
4. Maxwell House
A great budget coffee is Maxwell House Instant Coffee. It’s a medium-roast, powdered coffee.
It’s a well-known, popular brand and this product lives up to its long-lasting name.
Some people may not like it as it’s powdered and has a fairly mild taste.
5. Douwe Egberts
Douwe Egberts Gold Instant Coffee is a freeze-dried, moderate-roast coffee.
It is available in a dark-roast with a different name – Pure Indulgence.
Both are wonderful options from this Dutch brand that has been here forever.
Ground Coffee Recommendations
It’s always better to get whole beans and grind them yourself. Most of the following options will be for whole beans.
And as Arabica beans are the best, all of the options will be those.
There is a huge variety of ground coffee options but the top five are:
Lifeboost is a fairly popular coffee. It checks a lot of boxes which is why it is well-liked.
This is a low acid, non-GMO, USDA organic, ethically sourced coffee.
It is available in all light, medium, dark, and decaf roasts. It’s available as both whole beans and ground options.
Volcanica Tanzania Peaberry Coffee is a rich, acidic, with winy notes.
It is a medium roast option but still is quite intense. It’s also available as pre-ground coffee.
3. Death Wish
This Death Wish coffee is a dark-roast, whole bean, USDA organic, fair trade option.
It has a bold, intense flavor since they claim that it is the World’s Strongest. It may not be for everyone but it gives a great kick so it’s perfect for those who like that sort of flavor.
4. Kicking Horse
A great and delicious budget option is Kicking Horse.
It’s a dark roast with some unique notes such as chocolate malt, and licorice.
While this specific product is a whole bean, there are other ground options from this brand.
Moreover, it’s a Fairtrade product that is also USDA Organic approved.
5. Stone Street
Another pre-ground coffee on this list is by Stone Street. Although, it is also available as whole beans
It’s a low acid, Arabica, coffee. You can get it in medium roasts, dark roasts, and decaf.
In case you are specifically looking for French coffee options, you can read our article on it.
If you just want the best recommendation then based on my research;
Hopefully, you now know everything you wanted to know about instant coffee vs ground coffee.
Whichever one you have chosen for your day-to-day, it will brighten up your day for sure!