A Little Cold Water Makes Instant Coffee So Much Better

Instant coffee is certainly the quickest, most convenient option for getting your coffee and caffeine fix. Although some people may think that it doesn't make the most flavorful cup of joe, millions around the world drink it every day and appreciate that it comes together in a flash. Unlike ground coffee, which consists of whole coffee beans that have been finely ground, instant coffee is essentially freeze-dried coffee that completely dissolves in water, leaving no waste behind.

As sustainable and convenient as it is, instant coffee sometimes suffers from a reputation for tasting bitter, sour, and grainy. These negative descriptors may arise from the type of beans used, the freshness of the product, or a poor roasting process. Fortunately, it's possible to improve the taste of instant coffee. Adding a bit of cold water may sound counterproductive, but it actually tames the amylum — a complex carbohydrate — in instant coffee, reducing that unpleasant gritty sensation.

Just a few extra seconds of prep time

Amylum is a naturally occurring starch found in certain edible organic matter, including food items like instant coffee, where it serves as a binder and thickener. When hot water is poured directly onto instant coffee granules, the amylum solidifies, resulting in a somewhat chalky mouthfeel. To counteract this, simply stir the instant granules in a small amount of cold water until they dissolve, and then add hot water to the mixture. The cold water gently softens the amylum, leaving you with a smooth flavor akin to a freshly brewed cup of coffee made with real beans.

Sure, one could argue that adding an extra step to the preparation of instant coffee compromises its primary advantage — speedy preparation. However, the trade-off of a few extra stirs for a significantly improved cup of joe is well worth it, particularly for those transitioning from freshly brewed coffee to instant.

Good ingredients make a difference

For the best flavor you can achieve with instant coffee, there are several other factors to consider. Because instant coffee consists of only two ingredients, aim for the best quality available. Some people believe that instant coffee labeled "freeze-dried" is superior to that labeled "spray-dried." Consider purchasing a few different brands to discover which ones suit your taste best. Also, use hot (but not boiling) clean, filtered water instead of tap water, which can exacerbate any bitter flavors in the coffee.

Initially, you can follow the preparation instructions on the coffee package you're using. However, if you've already followed the tips above and are still not satisfied, feel free to experiment with the coffee-to-water ratio, adjusting the amounts until you find a mixture that delights your palate. Lastly, remember to treat instant coffee as you would any other type of coffee — add frothed milk or coffee creamers to your liking, sweeten with sugar and syrups, and add finishing touches like whipped cream and warm spices.