Why do we drink instant coffee? You mention the word ‘instant’ to any coffee drinker and the response is the same, disgust, yet it is still drunk all across the world by so many. Is there a place for it? Or is it just a fad brought to life by commercials?
Coffee has been around for centuries. Ethiopia has been growing coffee and drinking coffee for thousands of years, having one of the first recorded exports from Ethiopia to Yemen dating back over 600 years ago! Our YIRGACHEFFE SINGLE ORIGIN comes from a place in the world where coffee is so embedded into their culture that they themselves drink ⅔ of their entire production.
Instant coffee hasn't been around that long, technically invented 100 years ago but not made mainstream until 60 years ago after world war 2. We all know the jokes about instant coffee, we know what it tastes like, yet it still makes up 25% of all retailed brewed coffee worldwide. So how has it held such a firm grip on society?
We took a look at the pros and cons of both , INSTANT COFFEE and FRESH GROUND COFFEE. What works, why we use it, how it affects you and who it benefits.
Let's start with instant.
We have a pretty recognisable brand here in Australia, we have taken the label off and wont tell you WHICH brand, though even through the colour most of you reading from Australia will know which one we have chosen. For those of you overseas, we would regard this particular brand as one of the “BETTER” and most common brands of instant supermarket coffee.
PROS OF INSTANT COFFEE
It takes a whole 3 steps to make this coffee, in less than 30 seconds. COFFEE IN, WATER IN, STIR. Not many other methods are quite as simple or as quick.
It’s ready to go when you are. If your machine is broken, its ready to go. If you work as a Doctor or Nurse, or a career that requires full attention and no downtime, it is there ready to go.
No mess, once stirred you only have the cup to deal with. No messy grinds, no waste product from the drink itself.
And super accessible! You can find it for less than $10 a jar at any supermarket. This however is not a good thing. Accessibility is great, cheap is not, which we will get into later.
No Tools Needed
Just a cup and a spoon (I'm sure you could go even simpler if you wanted to prove a point…)
CONS OF INSTANT COFFEE
There isn't a person alive who disputes the poor taste of instant coffee compared to ground. Some however, will grimace through the horrid flavour, be it purely out of necessity or maybe just to try and convince themselves otherwise.
The poor taste is a direct reflection of the QUALITY of the beans used, and the fact that it is made out of ROBUSTA beans. Robusta is notorious for its bad tasting bitterness, and although it packs in more than double the amount of caffeine than arabica, by the time you make a cup at home it is almost exactly the same due to the brewing process of instant coffee.
The majority of the problems connected to instant coffee happens well before you make it, before it makes it to the shelves of the store you bought it from and before it’s even brewed and snap frozen. The problems start piling on at the source, the farm.
Instant coffee uses the cheapest and most corner cutting coffee beans companies can source. Mostly using robusta beans, which are cheap to grow and much easier to yield. Because of the nature of the end result being so processed the care factor of the product going in is extremely limited.
The quality of beans also directly affects the price allowing companies to get mass amounts of coffee cherries for next to nothing, with the scraps of change then going back to the farmers.
Cheap ISN’T good
This isn't something new. It is one of our main focuses here at CBD to directly invest back into the farms and the producers so that they can live above the bottom line. For too many years companies have been exploiting these farmers paying them cents to the kilogram for their hard grown coffee.
Think of the supply chain. Who gets how much and where is the money distributed? If you are buying ANYTHING for $10, the company will usually get ¾ of that to pay for their processes/profits. Middlemen/Importers take a cut, milling stations/auction houses get a cut, drivers and workers get a cut, leaving the farmer with however much is left to feed their families.
The world is changing, things cost more because of the supply chain involved. Things cost extra because of the aim to directly support those at the other end. The only reason we as a society are not used to these costs is because of the years of generational conditioning and oppressive corporate behaviour undercutting farmers across the world.
So we have looked at INSTANT, time to look at freshly ground coffee/pre ground coffee if you don't have a grinder. Let's mix it up and have a quick look at the CONS behind having freshly ground coffee.
Cons for ground
Depending on the method it can take 2-5 mins.
You do have to dispose of the wet coffee grounds afterwards. We will go into how this isn't a bad thing later on.
Yeah, it costs anywhere from 60-80/kg. This is a reasonable price, this is how much things like this SHOULD cost. This isn't exorbitant, this isn't the business squeezing more money out of the consumer. This is how it NEEDS to be.
Some Skill Required
There are methods to make good coffee. If Ryd's children can make him a great cup of coffee in the morning… anyone can.
You will need SOMETHING. And that something can cost anywhere between $20-$200. The most basic thing you can get is a Plunger, a Filter, something to sift the coffee at a minimum. You can find the EASIEST way to make coffee in our video.
THE PROS are countless, here are just the simplest few.
Pros for Ground:
- So many more you can see in the video above
With almost unlimited options from single origins to blends, you can find your favourite flavours whilst exploring the beautiful stories of the framers. Each corner of the world houses different flavours.
WASTE can be used for good!
- Scrubs, ect
So many great functions for your used coffee grounds. In London they are even running their BUSSES off spent coffee grinds.
Sourced from real people, real farms supporting real families' futures. By purchasing high quality fresh coffee beans you can know that you aren't contributing to world poverty, and you are directly affecting people's lives by allowing them to live above the bottom line.
You can check out our video IS COFFEE GOOD FOR YOU here to learn more about the amazing benefits of coffee.
You can actually make instant coffee out of any coffee you choose. Other specialty roasters have made a specialty instant coffee, sourced from high quality sustainable farms, that way you know the coffee you are getting is high quality and the money is going into the right people's pockets. It’s SUPER expensive because of the extra processing involved, by the time you have to pay for THAT, you may as well have invested in a small french press and a grinder to buy fresh beans.
We know too much to idly sit by and be contemptuous when we KNOW exactly what impacts are being made through our actions. We live in an age where knowledge is the most accessible it has ever been. Why do we keep ignoring these red flags?
It’s a long battle, and one that sadly won't end anytime soon. With world events showing that some of us are ready for change whilst others still cling to the past, it may take more than a youtube video or an online blog to change the world. However if this has achieved anything it has shown that instant coffee itself isn't the problem, it's how you source your beans and the companies involved that needs to change the most.
Start the change here to save the future of coffee.