Instant coffee and espresso powder might look similar enough to be mistaken for each other, but other than that, they are very different. If you’re considering buying a new type of coffee, it’s a good idea to learn about how instant coffee and espresso powder are different to avoid confusing one for the other and ending up with a huge mess to deal with. Espresso powder is created with coffee beans that have been roasted and ground very finely, and it can look like instant coffee at first glance. But you’re not going to get very far by just adding hot water to it, since an espresso machine is required to make coffee using espresso powder. On the other hand, instant coffee is made using coffee crystals that are dehydrated, and it will be easily dissolved in hot water or milk to make a coffee.
Packets of instant coffee provide coffee lovers with an easy and quick way of getting an energy boost and they can sometimes come in small packets that are easy to use wherever you are. Along with this, instant coffee granules for baking can be a handy ingredient to use. You can also use instant espresso powder for baking.
Instant coffee is ground coffee that has been dehydrated, while espresso powder is made from dark roasted coffee beans that have been finely ground. Instant coffee can be easily mixed with hot water to make a cup of coffee, while espresso powder tends to be more concentrated in comparison and requires an espresso machine to prepare.
Compared to finely grinding whole coffee beans, creating instant coffee is a process that takes quite a lot of work. The first part involves brewing regular ground coffee beans. Then, crystals are formed by either spray-drying or freeze-drying the coffee. However, this makes for an easier experience on the user’s end since all you need to do is combine the instant coffee powder with hot milk or water to get a quick cup.
Due to the fact that it is a convenient option and lasts for a very long time, it’s no surprise that instant coffee is a very popular choice. If you get a sealed jar of instant coffee, it will usually last much longer compared to whole coffee beans or pre-ground coffee.
Since instant coffee powders are produced in bigger bulk quantities compared to fresh coffee, most companies use less expensive Robusta coffee beans. An interesting fact to note is that due to the process in which it is made, instant coffee tends to have less caffeine compared to regular coffee. A regular 8oz cup of instant coffee has a caffeine content of between 27-173mg depending on the brand you go for. The average amount of caffeine in a cup of instant coffee is 66mg, which is lower compared to a cup of freshly brewed coffee, with an average caffeine amount of 112mg. You can easily adjust the amount of instant coffee you add to the water to control the caffeine content.
What is espresso powder? Because it is quite powdery, espresso powder can sometimes easily be mistaken for instant coffee. However, espresso powder is named this due to the fine grind level rather than being a dissolvable powder. It can be made with any coffee beans, although coffee roasters will typically use dark roasted Arabica beans to get the best flavor. Espresso powder caffeine is also usually higher compared to instant coffee.
To make espresso powder, roasted coffee beans are ground in a burr grinder on the finest setting. If you have a burr coffee bean grinder at home, you can easily make your own espresso powder from whole espresso beans.
Espresso needs to be ground so finely due to the way that it is brewed. To make espresso, the powder is added to the portafilter of an espresso machine and then compressed using a tamper to make a tightly packed puck. The water then passes through the puck at a very high pressure, which will produce a flavorful, intense shot of espresso. If the grounds are not very fine, too much water will pass through which can have an impact on the strength of the espresso shot.
Instant Coffee Vs Instant Espresso Powder
You can also find a product known as instant espresso powder, which works in the same way as instant coffee and the main difference is that the coffee crystals are finer in comparison. It is used in much the same way as regular instant coffee; however, you can use it to make an espresso coffee and it tends to be stronger. An ideal choice if you do not have an espresso machine at home.
Using Espresso Powder as a Substitute for Instant Coffee
There are certain times where you can substitute espresso powder for instant coffee, such as in baking. If you are making a recipe that requires you to add coffee powder to the mixture, then either instant coffee powder or espresso powder is likely to work just as well, although espresso powder may result in a stronger coffee flavor. However, you won’t get much luck if you substitute espresso powder instead of instant coffee powder when making coffee, as the espresso powder will not dissolve like instant coffee does when you add hot water to it.
For many people, the taste is a huge factor when it comes to coffee. And there are some big differences to note when it comes to how instant coffee and espresso powder tastes. When compared with freshly ground coffee, instant coffee doesn’t really taste that great. While it’s a convenient option, most instant coffees are made with Robusta beans, which are harsher and cheaper. On the other hand, instant or regular espresso powder will usually taste better since these tend to be made with either 100% Arabica beans or a blend of Arabica and Robusta, which is smoother compared to instant coffees.
Choosing the Right One for You
If you want to get a quick caffeine boost, then you can use either instant coffee or espresso powder. Which one you choose will depend on your preferences and the equipment that you have for preparing coffee. Instant coffee is quick and easy to make, and all you need is something to heat water in like a kettle or even a pan on the stove. With instant coffee, you get more control over how strong you want your cup of coffee to be, and it produces a full cup of coffee for sipping on.
On the other hand, unless you go for instant espresso powder which works in a similar way to instant coffee but produces a stronger and darker flavor and more caffeine compared to instant coffee, you will need to get an espresso machine to use regular espresso powder. Espresso powder will not be dissolved in water, so you’ll need a machine with a portafilter and tamper to prepare the puck for the water to pass through at high pressure and make your shot of espresso.
Making Coffee with Espresso Powder
You will need to invest in an espresso machine if you want to use espresso powder to make coffee. If you don’t have an espresso machine or getting one isn’t in your budget right now, then there are some other ways that you can make espresso without an espresso machine. For example, you can use a Moka pot or an Aeropress to get an espresso-like shot. However, these methods do not usually call for the coffee grounds to be as finely ground compared to when using an espresso machine. You can also find espresso k-cups that can be used with coffee makers like the Nespresso Vertuo, which spins the pod at a fast speed to produce an espresso shot.
Making Espresso without an Espresso Machine
If you aren’t a huge fan of instant coffee and want to make espresso at home but do not have an espresso machine, the good news is that there are still options to consider. However, to make espresso using other methods, you are often better off using a coarser grind, as the fine espresso powder is best used in espresso machines. The best way to achieve this is to purchase whole espresso beans and grind them yourself at home to the desired consistency using a burr grinder, rather than buying espresso powder. You can make espresso at home without an espresso machine using a Moka Pot, which percolates the coffee while brewing to create a concentrated, espresso-like brew. While it’s not going to be exactly the same as the type of espresso that you would get from using an espresso machine, many users of this type of coffee maker say that it comes very close, and if you have a milk steamer or frother to hand, you can easily use it to make various popular espresso-based drinks like cappuccinos and lattes.
While instant coffee and espresso powder might look similar, they are actually very different. Instant coffee can be made in minutes and is great for a quick caffeine fix, while espresso powder will need to be prepared in an espresso machine.