Ground Coffee Vs Instant Coffee: Are They Different?

Ok, everybody knows that ground coffee and instant coffee are not the same things.

But, what is the big difference?

Jump into my ground coffee vs instant coffee rundown, because I will clear up this question once and for all.

Le’s start!

What Is Ground Coffee?   

When we say ground coffee, we are talking about ground coffee beans you’re using for brewing in coffee makers. All coffee makers, from a French press and Chemex, to espresso machines, use ground coffee.

So how is ground coffee made?

Long story short: 

The coffee bean comes from the coffee cherry. Raw beans are green, and they are not ready for brewing at that stage.

First, they are roasted to a certain temperature. (The best smell in the world!)

Now we have our well-known brown coffee beans.

But, roasted coffee bean needs to be ground to get as many flavors as possible, so you can brew them into your cup of joe. And every brewing method requires the right grind size.

Finally. when you have your coffee grounds, you can use your favorite method for brewing coffee.

What Is Instant Coffee?  

Instant coffee is made from regular coffee grounds, but it’s more than that. It is already brewed coffee.

Let me explain this in more detail:

So, fresh green coffee beans are roasted and then ground. Just like regular coffee grounds.

But, here’s the catch:

After roasting and grinding, coffee is brewed. Then it gets dehydrated and concentrated into coffee crystals or powder.

All you need is water and a couple of stirs to dissolve it, and your instant coffee is ready.

NOTE
Because it is roasted, brewed, and dehydrated, instant coffee can last for years and years on a shelf.

Ground Coffee Vs Instant Coffee

coffee beans, ground coffee and instant coffee

Now when we cleared this out, we can talk about specific differences between these two.

Brewing Process  

Obviously, the brewing method of these different types of coffee won’t be the same.

There are many different methods of brewing ground coffee:

  • boiling methods (Turkish coffee, cowboy coffee)
  • steeping methods (French press, cold brew coffee, siphon brewers)
  • dripping methods (pour-overs, Chemex, drip coffee maker)
  • pressure methods (espresso machine, Moka pot, AeroPress)

In all these processes, coffee flavors and caffeine are extracted from coffee grounds. And as a result, you will have a delicious cup of coffee and wet coffee ground leftovers.

Every coffee brewing method is special and takes time and patience. Most of these require some equipment as well.

But, it’s definitely worth it. The taste of freshly brewed coffee is incomparable.

True coffee enthusiasts really appreciate their brewing ritual. (Including myself.)

On the other hand, sometimes it’s just way more convenient to mix instant coffee powder with water and have a cup of coffee in a minute, isn’t it?

For example, instant coffee is my go-to choice for camping and hiking.

It’s much easier because there is no brewing and no need for a special coffee machine. All I need is a bottle of water and instant coffee. Even cold water will do the trick.

It is because instant coffee is already brewed. Instant coffee granules are already extracted and dehydrated coffee. You just need to stir it and dissolve it in the water.

Of course, it won’t taste as good as freshly brewed coffee, but if I can have my caffeine boost in the middle of nowhere in a second, I’ll take it!

Taste

woman drinking coffee

Let’s be fair, any freshly brewed coffee tastes ten times better than instant coffee.

You can make an effort and add some nice milk or creamer, sweetener, or flavor syrup. It still won’t be good as the real deal.

First of all, the whole dehydration process surely changes the authentic coffee flavor.

You can’t compare dehydrated and rehydrated coffee with a hot, just-made cup of espresso.

Second, instant coffee is almost always made from Robusta coffee beans. Most ground coffees are made of Arabica.

The thing is, Robusta coffee beans are lower quality and cheaper than Arabica.

Robusta beans have more caffeine, fewer unique flavors, and less sugar.

Because of that, instant coffees are almost always too bitter, with no distinctive aromas. 

Arabica coffee beans are more expensive. It is because they are harder to grow, but also because they are more aromatic and flavorful.

Arabica bean has a complex, smooth, and sweet flavor, without bitterness.

Caffeine Amount

instant, ground coffee and coffee beans

When you are brewing ground coffee, you can control how caffeinated your coffee will be. The longer the coffee grounds are soaked in water, the more caffeine will be extracted. 

With instant coffee, you don’t have that option. The only thing you can do is dissolve a smaller amount of coffee powder.

You remember how instant coffee is mostly made from Robusta coffee?

Well, the Robusta bean generally has more caffeine than Arabica. It contains about 2.5% of caffeine, while Arabica has about 1.5%.

Clearly, instant coffee should be packed with caffeine.

Yet, you can easily drink two or three cups of instant coffee during the day. And only one espresso in the morning will give you a caffeine buzz enough for the whole day.

That’s because an important amount of caffeine content is lost during the whole process of making instant coffee.

So, if you’re looking for a proper caffeine boost, ground coffee is definitely a better option.

Conclusion

And there you have it:

Ground coffee and instant coffee are two completely different things.

Ground coffee is made of roasted and ground beans, ready for brewing fresh coffee. Instant coffee is pre-brewed and dehydrated coffee which you can simply dissolve in water.

Instant coffee is definitely a convenient option. But compared to fresh ground coffee, it lacks taste and caffeine.

Want to try a new brewing method for your ground coffee? Here are the best brewing methods you can try at home!

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Tijana Veljovic
Tijana spent a few years working as a barista. Now she’s enjoying writing about everything she learned about coffee and sharing it with you. Her weapon of choice for making it through the day is a hot latte. Besides writing and coffee, she loves traveling, camping, cooking, and good music.