The Type Of Coffee Bean Most Commonly Used In Instant Coffee

Instant coffee. The name conjures up images of the 1970s, where kitchens had avocado-colored appliances, linoleum flooring, and the ever-present jar of Sanka in the cupboard.

Although instant coffee hasn't gotten the same respect as brewed coffee, it has a long history. According to The Spruce Eats, versions of the beverage date back to the 1700s in Britain, but it wasn't until about 1910 that instant coffee began to be sold commercially. The easy-to-make coffee increased in popularity during World War II and was regularly consumed in households in the post-war years. 

But instant coffee began losing favor in the U.S. in the early 1990s, when sophisticated home coffee machines and coffee shops on every corner became the standard (via Smithsonian). These days, instant coffee is often thought of as cheap, bad tasting, even "fake" coffee. But maybe it's time to dispel that bad reputation. 

Instant coffee is, in fact, real coffee, and starts its life as all coffee does, from coffee beans that have been ground and then brewed. The difference is, the water is removed after the brewing process, leaving behind the dry coffee powder or coffee crystals that you find in a jar or package of instant coffee (via Healthline). So now that we know that instant coffee comes from a coffee bean, is there a type of bean that is more suitable than others?

Robusta beans are typically used in instant coffee

Two types of coffee beans are most commonly used to make coffee: Arabica and Robusta. Arabica is the more widely used of the two beans, with a sweeter flavor and smoother finish. Robusta is stronger and less expensive than Arabica, with bitter notes and a higher caffeine content (via Taste of Home). When instant coffee is made, a lot of coffee is lost during the process, so having a cheaper bean, like the Robusta, is important to the manufacturer, explains Coffee Magazine. And as Taste of Home notes, the stronger, more bitter taste of Robusta beans lends itself well to instant coffee.

As far as taste is concerned, manufacturers have really upped their game in recent years. According to Good Housekeeping, some of the best instant coffees include Joe Coffee's The Daily, Café Altura's Fair Trade Freeze Dried Organic Coffee, Starbucks' VIA Instant Medium Roast, and Nescafé's Clásico Dark Roast Instant. Not only are the new instant coffees better-tasting, but some manufacturers have made the convenient coffee even more convenient, with applications including individual packets, pour-over bags, and even tea bags — perfect for hiking and camping trips.