While instant coffee has been around for many years, it never received the respect it deserves (mainly due to poor tasting products). But, in the last few years the instant coffee category is in the process of making a comeback with products that are as good as ground coffee. Yes, we said that.
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How Quality Instant Coffee is Made?
There are two ways to make instant coffee: freeze drying the brewed coffee or spray drying it. In both ways, real coffee beans are used to make instant coffee. This is contrary to some beliefs that instant coffee isn’t real coffee.
At the beginning of the process, the coffee beans are ground and brewed into thick concentrated liquid. Then, the coffee is processed by the spray drying method when the coffee is sprayed into a stream of hot air from the top of a tall cylindrical structure.
As the small amount of extracted coffee liquid drops down it becomes the old school dry fine instant coffee powder you are familiar with. This method is the most common way used by traditional instant coffee brands. This coffee product will usually taste burnt and not as pleasant as instant coffee produced by the freeze drying method.
In the freeze drying method, instead of applying heat to extract the liquid from the beans it is done through the process of sublimation. In this method, the coffee liquid is frozen to about -50 degrees celsius at a very thin layer.
It is then broken into smaller pieces and placed into a freeze dryer, where the frozen liquid sublimates (the process of when the ice immediately changes to steam, without defrosting first). This process ensures the final result is a delicious instant coffee product as it preserves the coffee’s aroma and depth of flavor.
How to Make Instant Coffee at Home
The instant coffee granules/powder will fully dissolve in your cup when mixed with water. The exact amount will vary based on the brand, but generally speaking you will need 1-2 tsp of instant coffee mixed with 8-10 fl oz of water. After the coffee is mixed with water, you can also add in your favorite creamer or milk.
Another fun thing about instant coffee is that you can whip it to make a frappé-like coffee drink. Whipping your instant coffee has been popular in various countries such as India, Pakistan and Macaou for years, but during the 2020 COVID-19 quarantine the South Korea Dalgona Coffee trend became even more popular on social media.
To make the perfect Dalgona Coffee you need to maintain a 1:1:1 ratio of instant coffee, sugar and water. Then, everything is whipped into a creamy, caramel-like mixture using a hand mixer or a whisk.
Our Best Instant Coffee Review: Waka Coffee
Waka Coffee is one of the leading newcomers in the instant coffee category and number one on our Best Instant Coffee list. The brand was launched in 2018 in Los Angeles, California with a bold goal “to bring the instant back.” Their mission statement is to “help people enjoy coffee more easily, wherever they are.”
They are currently delivering on this statement by selling only high quality instant coffee processed by the freeze drying method and made from 100% Arabica coffee beans. In addition, just like with other premium coffee brands, all of their instant coffees are single origin, which means they really don’t cut corners when it comes to quality.
We have tasted all of their coffees which include: Colombian medium roast instant coffee, Indian light roast instant coffee and decaffeinated Colombian medium roast instant coffee. We first tasted all of their coffees black (no sugar or milk), and then added a splash of milk to monitor the flavor changes.
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Waka Coffee Colombian Medium Roast Instant Coffee
Based on the amount of reviews and publicity this instant coffee has received, it seems that this is their best seller instant coffee, so we were super excited to start with this collection.
Flavor notes: sweet chocolate and dark caramel. The instant coffee was well balanced, richly sweet with a brisk of acidity. it would be ideal to drink black or with minimal milk/creamer.
When we added a splash of dairy milk and mixed it again, the taste remained solid and we could still taste the coffee and smell the aroma. When drank black and compared to a freshly brewed ground coffee, we honestly couldn’t tell which one was the instant coffee.
Waka Coffee Indian Light Roast Instant Coffee
This collection seems to be their newer addition that is aimed to please people who prefer lighter coffee strength. Just like the other collection, you can find the light roast instant coffee in a single-serve packaging as well as larger bags options.
Flavor notes: chocolate and hazelnut. This instant coffee had delightful flavorful imparts notes of dark chocolate and smooth hazelnut. It had low acidity, which is great for people who are looking for low acidity instant coffee, and the dry finish came through as advertised. The brew stood up even with the additions of milk and sugar. We were super impressed!
Waka Coffee Decaffeinated Colombian Medium Roast Instant Coffee
This instant coffee collection is the best option for the decaf lovers out there. With only about 3.6 mg of caffeine per 0.1 oz coffee (compared to 70 mg of caffeine per 0.1 oz coffee for the caffeinated version) this is a solid afternoon cup of joe option.
Flavor notes: hazelnut and light citrus acidity. We thought this version did taste slightly different from the caffeinated Colombian version. The flavor notes were more complex and altered by the light fruity acidity. It also had a lighter body than the other two and carried the milk and sugar more easily.
Why Would You Drink Waka Coffee
As with any other instant coffee, the most obvious reason is its ease of use and portability. So, this coffee would be ideal for traveling, camping, long flights or boat trips. The single-serve instant coffee packets are easy to open and are already pre-measured for one cup. All you need to do is add hot or cold water and stir.
With the instant coffee renaissance, we also think it’s a very solid option to keep at home. Quality instant coffees, like Waka Coffee, can make your mornings so much easier and faster. We of course still love our coffee machine, but sometimes when the morning is too hectic Waka will definitely become our go-to coffee. In addition, it is a great option for those who don’t have the counter space for a coffee maker or make only one cup at a time. With Waka instant coffee, you don’t need to clean up your machine or dispose of the ground coffee leftovers.
Bonus: you can make delicious whipped instant coffee whenever you want. You, unfortunately, can’t make Dalgona Coffee with ground coffee so it’s always good to keep this good stuff for some coffee creativity time.
The Final Verdict
- Tastes like freshly brewed ground coffee
- Comes in single-serve and larger bulk options
- The most convenient and easy coffee option
- Much better than any traditional instant coffee out there
- Limited variety of roasts and origins
- Higher price compared to the instant coffee category
- Currently only available online