Is Instant Coffee Bad for Your Health?

Instant Coffee: The Popular Kid

Are you a student cramming up multiple report papers? Are you stressed at work, managing so little time left until the deadlines? Chances are instant coffee are your last lifeline to get you through the day. After all, the instant drink is a favorite for a lot of people. Why is it so popular? Is it as good as the regular brewed coffee just as advertised repeatedly on the television? Or is it as dangerous as many other processed foods?

Instant coffee, or which can also be called soluble coffee, coffee crystals, and coffee powder, is a popular drink in many regions of the world. It is the great alternative to ground or brewed coffee. It accounts for more than half of total coffee consumption in many countries. This acclaim goes a long way back dating from the First World War, which was when instant coffee was first mass-produced.

To this day, this great alternative to everyone’s favorite beverage is still arguably one of the most enjoyed drinks around the world. The reason for this is just simply: convenience. The instant beverage is faster, cheaper, and easier to make than its counterparts are such as the espresso. How does this work? How did instant coffee advance to its preeminent position from the old world dominance of brewed coffee? Is instant coffee still the best way to start one’s morning?

Instant Coffee: How is it made?

Instant coffee is a type of coffee made from dried coffee extract. Similar to when brewed coffee is whipped up, the extract is made by brewing ground coffee beans, with the exception that it is further concentrated. It allows anyone to effortlessly and instantly prepare hot coffee by adding hot water to the powdered crystals and stirring until the powder dissolves.

The soluble coffee is prepared commercially using either of two methods: freeze-drying or spray drying. Freeze-drying is done by freezing and cutting the coffee extract into small fragments, which under vacuum conditions, dried at a low temperature. Spray drying on the other hand, is spraying the coffee extract into hot air, which instantly dries the droplets and turns them into small pieces or fine powder. Through these methods, the quality, aroma, and flavor of the coffee are greatly preserved.

How is it different from brewed coffee?

After understanding how instant coffee is processed, we can deduce that the instant version of our favorite beverage is not that far out from the regular brew. In fact, the quality and flavor of the coffee bean extracts are preserved. So does this imply that instant coffee is more desirable? Is the convenience enough to best the classic taste of the brew? Let us review the advantages and disadvantages of instant coffee.

The advantages of consuming instant coffee include:

  • The speed of preparation aka the convenience of the product
  • The lower shipping weight and volume than ground coffee
  • The long shelf life, although instant coffee can spoil if not kept dry or stored properly
  • Instant coffee also reduces the work required to clean after preparation

The disadvantages of consuming instant coffee include:

  • The distinct taste is limited to the given product brand
  • The experience of brewing and experimenting with one’s preferred flavor is not felt
  • The processed taste does not compare to how fresh coffee tastes
  • The actual process of brewing a freshly roasted coffee does not really take that long
  • Just like many processed foods, instant coffee contains other preservatives and additives to combat shortages and raise economic gain
  • Cheaper coffee varieties cost less because they use poor quality beans
  • Most companies process them with techniques that add flavor but amplify the amount of somewhat harmful compounds

What makes it a bad choice?

Instant coffee is mass-produced around the world to satisfy the huge demand for a cheap caffeinated beverage. Like a lot of processed products, (meat products, baked goods, pasta, tinned vegetables, savoury snacks, convenience foods, etc.) soluble coffee isn’t necessarily unhealthy as long as it is consumed moderately. This does not escape the fact that anything that has been processed may contain added sugars, extenders, and many other unpleasant ingredients. An advantage of brewed coffee, either bought or prepared from home, is that you know exactly what is going into it, including one’s preferred amount of sugar (or the absence thereof).

It may be best to avoid instant coffee due to health considerations. Instant coffee contains caffeine, which is not necessarily hazardous to its consumers’ health, since brewed coffee contains the same. However, it is easy to end up consuming an excessive amount of caffeine than recommended since instant coffee apparently has considerably less caffeine than brewed coffee. Too much caffeine intake may result to harmful effects which include: irritability, palpitations, and insomnia.

One other effect of caffeine overdose is to induce anxiety which people with panic disorder or social anxiety disorders are especially prone to. This means that the instant coffee may worsen their conditions thus are clearly harmful to the people with the said conditions or disorders.

Conclusion: Brewed trumps instant

Instant coffee offers convenience but for a price. It may not be evident for instant coffee, like many of the products we have in this age, they have become part of our norm. People consume instant coffees regularly whether or not the risks are hazardous. The rising prices for products are mainly the reason why people go for the affordable choice. Based on practicality, instant coffee are the best choice to enjoy everyone’s favorite beverage.

Still, this does not mean that brewed coffee, which is the more traditional way of how coffee is prepared, are going out of the markets. The incomparable taste and flavor of freshly brewed coffee is something that instant coffee can never replicate. That is probably why coffee connoisseurs avoid the instant variant. The rich flavor of the coffee, when prepped and brewed right, is on an entirely different level than the mild, and monotonous taste of instant coffees. Whether you’re a fan of the instant or not, coffee is still for everyone. Do remember to enjoy your favorite cup of joe in moderation, like everything else.

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