Is Instant Coffee Bad for You? Let’s Take a Closer Look
If you spend a lot of time traveling or at work without a coffee pot within reach, you may wonder if instant coffee is the answer you’ve been looking for.
Is instant coffee bad for you? Does it deliver the same health benefits as traditionally brewed regular coffee?
Is it even made from the same coffee beans?
Let’s take a closer look at instant coffee to figure out how it works.
What Exactly is Instant Coffee?
Instant coffee crystals have a long shelf life and don’t require any special equipment for brewing. They typically come in a glass jar or a box of packets.
All you’ve got to do is get your hands on some hot water, scoop a teaspoon (or more) of instant coffee into a cup, and stir to dissolve the coffee crystals.
Its convenience makes instant coffee an excellent choice for traveling or work settings where you may not always have access to coffee grounds, a familiar coffee maker, or filters.
Plus, different cultures and regions use unique equipment for brewing ground coffee beans (like French presses or Arabic boiling pots). So if you end up at an Airbnb in a foreign country, you can rest assured knowing that you can still get your caffeine fix with instant coffee even if you don’t have the same coffee maker you’re used to or the nearby coffee shops are closed.
You may be surprised to know that the same American stigma around instant coffee doesn’t exist in other countries.
Finally, instant coffee granules are also much more versatile options for making coffee-flavored baked goods or desserts because they don’t add any extra water to the recipe.
How Is It Made?
Instant coffee gets a bad reputation.
You’ve probably even seen people visible shudder when they say “it’s instant” as they turn up their nose.
Of course, coffee purists will always find something wrong with instant — and even regular coffee for that matter — but the truth is, instant coffee is made from the same coffee beans as regular ground coffee.
Instant coffee begins its journey as a highly concentrated brewed coffee extract.
Next, manufacturers need to separate the coffee extract from the water. They use two methods:
- Spray drying: Coffee extract is sprayed as a fine mist into very dry and hot air. The water evaporates and you’re left with coffee powder or small crystals.
- Freeze drying: Coffee extract is frozen. Next, the atmospheric pressure is reduced, and heat is added so the water can jump from ice to vapor and bypass the liquid stage. You’re left with solid coffee granules that easily dissolve in hot water.
How Does It Differ from Regular Coffee?
Instant coffee is technically still “real coffee” but there are a few slight differences.
For starters, instant coffee granules contain slightly less caffeine than regular coffee beans.
A regular cup of coffee from your average coffee maker usually provides between 70 and 140 mg of caffeine while a cup of instant coffee might only deliver between 30 to 90 mg of caffeine. (2)
Of course, if you’re a serious coffee drinker and don’t mind a super strong flavor, you can always simply add more instant coffee granules to boost the caffeine content.
On the other hand, if you want to lower your caffeine intake, instant is ideal! Plus, decaf instant coffee contains even less caffeine than regular decaf coffee.
Research suggests that instant types of coffee might also provide higher concentrations of antioxidants per serving. (3)
What are the Health Benefits?
You can enjoy all the same health benefits of coffee with a cup of instant!
Most of coffee’s incredible health benefits come from the caffeine content and antioxidants.
Coffee May Improve Brain Function, Physical Performance, and Mental Health
Coffee makes a great pre-workout drink because studies suggest it may improve physical performance by up to 12%. (5)
Studies show that caffeine content in coffee can improve energy, reaction times, memory, and even mood. (6, 7)
Coffee may also improve your memory and lead to a lower risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. (8, 9)
Finally, studies show that people who consume coffee daily have a lower risk of depression and suicide. (10, 11)
Coffee Consumption Leads to a Reduced Risk of Many Diseases
For most westerners, coffee is their main source of antioxidants.
That’s not necessarily a terrible thing because research shows that the antioxidants in coffee can lead to a lower risk of liver disease as well as type 2 diabetes. (12, 13)
Caffeine May Support Healthy Weight Loss and Fat Burning
Coffee isn’t just great for seasoned athletes, the caffeine content in coffee can also help people on their weight loss journey.
Studies show that caffeine can up your metabolic rate by up to 11%. (14)
For people with obesity, regular caffeine consumption can boost your fat-burning potential by 10% while lean folks can enjoy a 29% higher fat-burning rate.
Is Instant Coffee Bad for You? The Bottom Line
Is instant coffee bad for you? Instant coffee is made from the exact same coffee beans as regular coffee so there’s no shame in keeping some in your cabinet!
While it often provides more antioxidants per serving, it also delivers slightly less caffeine.
However, instant coffee granules are perfect for enjoying a caffeine boost and plenty of health benefits of coffee on the go.