In a world that constantly races against the clock, Whether you are working, studying or even during travelling the instant coffee has emerged as a beloved companion for those seeking a quick caffeine fix. But have you ever wondered how those granules of instant coffee are made? The process behind creating this convenient brew is a fascinating journey that involves precision, innovation, and a deep understanding of coffee beans. So today, we’ll go through the intricate steps of how instant coffee is made, from bean to cup in an instant.
First let’s take a look at the history of instant coffee, the timeline of how it was invented
1771 – The first known instant coffee was patented back in 1771 from England by John Dring and it was patented as ‘Coffee Compound’ by British Government.
1890 – David Strang of invercargill from New Zealand invented a new technique known as Dry Hot-Air process to produce instant coffee and started selling the coffee as Strang’s Coffee.
1901 – A Japanese chemist, Sattori Kato working in Chicago introduced the first successful stable soluble coffee powder creation method to the public at Pan-American Exposition but was patented only in 1903.
1910 – An American inventor George Constant Louis Washinton of Belgian origin invented the large scale mass instant coffee making process and launched the first commercial brand as “Red E Coffee”.
1930 – the large coffee surpluses in Brazil caused the Brazilian Coffee Institute to approach Nestle to develop a flavorful soluble coffee to help with the storage problem but the product at that time is considered inferior so Nestle started researching a better solution.
1937 – Nestle scientist Max Morgenthaler invented a new instant coffee making method that taste better and named it Nescafe. Nestle begun selling Nescafe in 1938 and quickly became popular.
1954 – Nestle developed another method to produce instant coffee by using only coffee without adding carbohydrates as stabilization like before.
1960 – Nestle makes the instant coffee looks better by using a new method called agglomeration, which is the process of heating the instant coffee particles to make them stick together. But there was a problem, the re-heating of coffee will makes the coffee flavor becomes unpleasant so the freeze-drying process was used instead as it can improve the overall instant coffee taste. since then the freeze-drying method becomes the industry standard for making instant coffee until today and this is when the coffee powder turns into coffee granules.
Now you know the history of instant coffee, lets take a look at the instant coffees making process. It begins with selection of coffee beans, these beans are typically of the Arabica or Robusta variety or even mix of both, chosen because of their distinct flavors and aroma. Quality is very important at this stage, as the taste of the final product is deeply related to the beans’ characteristics.
The selected coffee beans will undergo the roasting process to brings out their unique flavor profiles. After roasting, the beans are grounded into a coarse powder. This ground coffee powder is the foundation of instant coffee production.
The next step of the process now is coffee extraction. To create a concentrated coffee extract, hot water is used to passed through the ground coffee. This process extracts the flavors, oils, and soluble from the coffee, resulting in a strong brew.
The concentrated coffee extract will then go thru the drying process either by freeze-drying or spray drying method. In freeze-drying method, the coffee is freeze in temperature at least minus 40°C and the result is the frozen coffee slabs. These slabs are then broken into smaller pieces, creating what’s known as “coffee crumb.” This crumb is placed in a vacuum chamber, where the water content is removed through sublimation, leaving behind pure coffee solids.
Where as for the spray-drying method also known as the agglomeration process, will spray the liquid coffee extract like a mist together with stream of hot air into a tall cylindrical tower from the top. The extreme hot air can dry the liquid coffee almost instantly leaving only dried coffee powder falling to the bottom of the tower. A very small amount of water then added back into the dried coffee powder and sieved to ensure all granules are of the same size. By re-combining the coffee particles into larger porous granules, they are also easier to dissolve when hot water is added making the instant coffee more convenient for consumers.
The freshly made instant coffee granules are then carefully packaged to ensure freshness and flavor preservation. Quality control measures are implemented to meet the high standards expected by coffee enthusiasts around the world.
And there you have it, the remarkable journey of how instant coffee is made. From the meticulous selection of coffee beans to the innovative freeze-drying and agglomeration processes, each step contributes to the creation of a convenient coffee option loved by many.