History of Instant Coffee

Do you know the history of instant Coffee? Preparing a great cup of coffee is considered as a craft and starting from scratch with coffee beans can be complicated and may require a lot of equipment. Just imagine using a french press, where it will require a weighing scale for measuring coffee, a grinder to ground roasted coffee beans, and the french press itself. Aside from the number of materials required in extracting the best coffee possible, the thought of cleaning up can make people turn to soluble coffee. The average coffee drinkers are thankful for instant coffee – it makes coffee preparation a lot easier than most just need to add hot water.

History of Instant Coffee – The Beginning

Just like the discovery of the coffee beans in Ethiopia, there are no exact dates recorded for the beginnings of the history of instant coffee. The earliest recorded information is from 1771 based on a patent granted by the British government for a ‘coffee compound.’

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There is not much available information after it and took 80 years for an update with the creation of American Instant Coffee in 1851. About 40 years later, a New Zealander man named David Strang invented and patented instant coffee using a “Dry Hot-Air” process in 1890.

It was followed by the idea of a Japanese-American chemist named Satori Kato in 1901 for a stable soluble coffee powder and granted a patent two years later after it. Kato’s invention has been used as a reference to be the beginnings of instant coffee.

The development of instant coffee over time

The most recorded history of instant coffee begins in the 1900s after Kato’s contribution to what is known as instant coffee powder today. An American inventor of Belgian descent named George Washington (not the first US president, from some memes on the internet) created his own process in 1910, and the product was mass-produced but the taste was not well-accepted by the public.

Two decades later, the Brazilian Coffee Institute had a large coffee surplus that led them to ask the chairman of Nestlé company to help create a soluble coffee product to reduce spoilage while increasing coffee sales.

How Nestlé Contributed the history of instant Coffee

The history of instant coffee continues with the great contribution of Nestlé company to a more acceptable instant coffee product. The development project was led by Max Morgenthaler under the brand name Nescafé on April 1, 1938. This flagship coffee brand was introduced in Switzerland on the same date.

This soluble powdered coffee became essential to soldiers and American households during World War II. Notable enhancements from Nescafé on this product line would be the introduction of freeze-dried coffee brand called ‘Nescafé Gold in Europe in 1965. A few years later, a new brand was introduced by Nestlé for the US and Canadian market called “Taster’s Choice” – a more premium line compared to Nescafé.

Instant Coffee In A Pod

Aside from the soluble instant coffee that a lot of people now today, another remarkable development made by Nestlé is the creation of Nespresso. It all started when Eric Favre, an employee of Nestlé, noticed how espresso is made by a coffee bar in Rome.

The idea led him to create Nespresso, a system where it uses sealed pods with coffee inside it. The technology is patented in 1976, but not ready to be released in the market until 10 years after. The concept was tested in Japan after what considered a flop to the Swiss market.

The generation of the new millennium opened the first Nespresso boutique in France as a concept store in 2000, after starting as an online-only offering.

How Instant Coffee Is Made

Just like any other standard coffee, it all begins from coffee beans that are carefully picked by farmers by hand or by machine. It will be cleaned and usually, sun-dried depending on the traditional process based on the geographic location and manufacturing requirement of the coffee farm.

Once they turn into a coffee bean ready for processing, it will be filtered down to the factories’ large oven where it will be roasted. The roasting process is responsible for giving the coffee a nice color. It will be stirred constantly to ensure even roasting without getting burnt.

Upon reaching the desired roast, it will fall into an industrial mill where it will turn to a coarse powder. Instant coffee factories would have large coffee machines in which the flavor will be extracted by hot steam and pressure.

After that stage, the coffee produced will be heated and condensed into an extract. It will be spread through a conveyor belt that will go through a ‘Freezing Hall’ of about -50 C to lock the aroma. Being in a frozen state, it will be processed into granules. Since the frozen granules still contain water on them, it needs to be removed through a low-pressure tube. The amazing part of this process is how it will remove water moisture without making it liquid again.

The process is called sublimation, which avoids the coffee from being liquid again through the process and can stay solid even at room temperature. Once it is finished, it can now be packaged in jars with an airtight seal and labeled. It’s now ready for distribution! Through this process, many large factories make tons of instant coffee every day.

Modern Day Instant Coffee

Thanks to newer technology, instant coffee manufacturers have been able to produce soluble coffee with flavors, like mocha and french vanilla. This makes instant coffee appealing to those who are not fond of drinking black coffee. Another product that has instant coffee on them is the 3-in-1 coffee, which includes coffee, creamer, and sugar.

Image source: Kindess Mart

However, this kind of coffee is still popular among people on the go even if it is criticized for having potentially harmful chemicals that are used to preserve and sustain the taste it would like to deliver.

Instant coffee became a standard staple to most households, given how convenient and practical it is. Most coffee lovers would have presumably started first by tasting instant coffee. Though coffee enthusiasts do not agree on what instant coffee tastes like compared to the freshly brewed ones, the easy preparation and less time needed to enjoy a cup of coffee are still preferred by many.


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