What is Instant Coffee?
Instant coffee is where coffee meets convenience. It is a powder derived from brewing ground coffee beans. After brewing, the water is removed from the extract to make dry fragments or powder, both of which dissolve when added to water. There are two main ways to make instant coffee, spray-drying and freeze-drying.
Instant coffee was invented in New Zealand in 1890 and accounts for approximately 25% of all retail brewed coffee worldwide.
You might also see instant coffee called:
- Soluble coffee
- Coffee crystals
- Coffee powder
- Granulated coffee
Spray Dried vs Freeze Dried Instant Coffee
Freeze-dried and spray-dried instant coffees are two popular methods for producing soluble coffee powder. While they both aim to achieve convenience and quick preparation, there are differences in the production processes and resulting characteristics.
Freeze-dried: A type of coffee brewed from a concentrated coffee syrup frozen in a high-vacuum environment.
Spray-dried: A type of coffee that is treated with a drying process in order to remove all the water from the coffee beans leaving behind a concentrated form of coffee.
What is the Difference?
Freeze-dried: In this method, freshly brewed coffee is rapidly frozen to a very low temperature. The frozen coffee is then placed in a vacuum chamber, where the ice crystals formed during freezing are directly converted into vapor (sublimation) without going through a liquid state. The remaining dry coffee solids are then collected and packaged. To be noted, this process takes more time by a matter of days compared to spray dried coffee. Thus, freeze dried is a higher quality but more expensive product.
Typically, in the freeze drying process employed at Enerhealth Botanicals using lower heat settings to preserve more of the flavors and aromas, but also preserving the therapeutic value of the medicinal mushrooms. The high heat of spray drying can ‘unfold’ the long chain polysaccharides and reduce the therapeutic value.
Spray-dried: This process involves spraying a concentrated coffee extract into a hot air chamber. The hot air rapidly evaporates the liquid, leaving behind dry coffee particles, which are then collected. Spray drying is highly beneficial to the producer as it enables a company to take coffee concentrates and spray dry them very fast. This process for mushroom infused coffees can ‘uncouple’ the long chain polysaccharides and reduce the medicinal values.
Flavor and Aroma:
Freeze-dried: This method generally preserves the natural flavors and aromas of coffee better due to the minimal exposure to high temperatures. The freeze-drying process helps retain the volatile compounds responsible for the characteristic coffee flavor, resulting in a more aromatic and flavorful cup of instant coffee.
I actually don’t like ‘instant coffee’ as a rule BUT the product produced by Enerhealth Botanicals is very tasty and I use it when I am in a hurry or just need a one cup pick me up! It is as close to drip coffee as one can get, I think.
Spray-dried: The high-temperature exposure during spray drying can cause some flavor loss. Although efforts are made to retain the coffee's desirable qualities, the final product may not have the same level of richness and aromatic complexity as freeze-dried instant coffee. Most of the instant coffees you have had in the U.S. were probably spray dried UNLESS specifically noted on the label. In Europe almost all the instant coffees are freeze dried although you occasionally encounter spray dried products there as well.
Solubility and Texture:
Freeze-dried: Freeze-dried coffee tends to have a more porous structure, which enhances its solubility. It dissolves quickly and easily in hot water, resulting in a smooth and consistent cup of coffee with minimal residue. The product at Enerhealth is 100% water soluble.
Spray-dried: Spray-dried coffee particles are generally denser and may take slightly longer to dissolve completely. However, modern spray-drying techniques have improved solubility, and the difference in texture between the two methods is relatively minimal.
Having said that, spray-dried is still not completely soluble when it comes to instant coffees with mushrooms. Many companies blend two powders, instant coffee with mushroom powders and depending upon the producer of the powders they tend to ‘clump’ up in hot water.
Freeze-dried: Freeze-dried coffee often retains the shape and structure of the original coffee granules, although they become lighter and more brittle. The individual particles are usually larger and have a more irregular shape. The product produced by Enerhealth Botanicals has a finer texture than most competing brands of freeze dried coffee, largely due to the process of freeze drying the mushroom extracts with the liquid coffee producing a uniform powder.
Spray-dried: Spray-dried coffee is typically finer in texture and appears as a homogeneous powder. The particles are smaller, more uniform, and have a smoother appearance
Both spray dried and freeze-dried coffees are both very convenient. The preference of one over the other depends upon one’s taste preference and budget, as freeze dried coffee is more expensive due to length of the freeze drying process.
Freeze-dried instant coffee generally offers a more pronounced flavor and aroma, while maintaining the convenience offered by spray-dried. When it comes to mushroom infused freeze dried coffees, not only is taste, appearance and convenience important but also solubility. No one wants a clumpy looking product in their cup of coffee.
Why Enerhealth Botanical's Freeze Dried Instant Coffee?
Our Freeze Dried Product is very different from what is available on the market today. Most companies are blending an instant coffee, spray and sometimes freeze dried, with powdered extracts of medicinal mushrooms-generally mycelium based extracts.
Our Freeze Dried Instant Coffee is made from ‘scratch’. We take coffee concentrates from Columbia and our own, in-house dual extracts of the fruiting bodies of the mushroom and combine the liquids then freeze dry them together to give you the highest quality, consistent dosages, and fully water soluble instant coffee available today!