Instant vs. Ground Coffee

Ah, coffee. The elixir of the gods, the morning pick-me-up, the afternoon productivity booster, and every college student's study aid.

There is a big distinction between instant and ground coffee. And depending on your preference, one may be better for you than the other.

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Brown Coffee on White Strainer

Let's take a closer look at the differences between instant and ground coffee to help you decide which choice should be yours.

Instant Coffee or Regular Coffee: What You Should Know

There's no denying it: coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world. And whether you prefer your java hot or cold, black or flavored, brewed or ready-to-drink, we're sure you've heard about the different types of coffee beans and how they affect the taste of what you drink.

But did you know there's a difference between ground coffee and instant coffee?

While both contain caffeine, ground coffee contains more flavor compounds than instant coffee, making it better suited for brewing into espresso drinks.

In fact, according to the National Coffee Association, Americans consume around 90 billion cups of coffee each year. Of those, roughly 40% of people drink ground coffee, and 60% drink instant coffee.

So, why do some people prefer one over the other? We looked at the differences between ground coffee and instant to find out.

What is Instant Coffee?

According to the International Specialty Products Association, instant coffee is coffee.

"Instant coffee is simply coffee that has been processed into a form suitable for immediate consumption," ISPA says. "Brewed coffee is ground coffee steeped in hot water."

The term "instant coffee" came about because the process used to make instant coffee was developed during World War II. During the war, there wasn't enough time to brew coffee, so people needed something fast.

In the 1950s, companies began selling instant coffee in cans, and the name stuck. Today, instant coffee is sold in boxes, bags, pouches, jars, and even disposable cups.

How is Instant Coffee Made?

Instant coffees coffee powders made from ground-up roasted beans of a low-quality Robusta variety.

The beans are then stripped of their water content during the brewing process, leaving behind an extract, which is dried in a very hot environment, resulting in crystallized coffee grounds.

These grounds are treated again to remove residual moisture and preserve the flavor of the coffee.

This process has been ongoing since chemist Saturate Kato invented it more than a century ago.

Is Instant Coffee Becoming More Popular?


Cision Newswire reports that, according to industry experts, the global instant coffee industry is expected to grow at an average annual rate of 5.4 percent from 2022 through 2027.

Instant coffees are becoming increasingly popular among consumers in emerging economies like the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia because they're relatively inexpensive and easy to consume.

What is Ground Coffee?

In its most basic form, coffee is ground-up coffee beans. However, coffee is more complex than just throwing beans in a blender.

Roasting brings out the flavors of the coffee beans. Then, they are ground into a fine powder and brewed with hot water to extract the caffeine and other flavorful compounds. When beans are ground, they release their natural oils, which provide richness and depth of flavor.

Like most coffee lovers, you know there's nothing quite like a freshly brewed cup of joe.

Bean Selection

Like most people, you probably don't give much thought to the coffee beans you use. However, the type of bean you choose can have a major impact on the flavor of your coffee.

For instance, Arabica beans are often used in premium coffees because they have a more complex flavor than other varieties.

On the other hand, as we said above, Robusta beans are often used in instant coffees because they are cheaper and have a bitter taste.

Brewing Method

Instant Coffee

Brewing instant coffee is easy, but you should keep a few things in mind if you want to make the perfect cup.

First of all, it's important to use fresh, cold water. Old water (for example, water sitting out overnight) will make your coffee taste stale and flat.

Secondly, be careful to use only a little coffee - a common mistake people make when brewing instant. A general rule of thumb is to use one teaspoon of coffee per cup of water.

Finally, give your coffee a good stir before you enjoy it.

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Ground Coffee

Like most coffee drinkers, you probably toss a scoop of ground beans into a filter and call it a day. But brewing the perfect cup of coffee is an art form. So here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your beans.

First, start with fresh, quality beans. Pre-ground coffee can go stale quickly, so it's always best to grind your own.

Second, use the right grind for your brewing method. A coarser grind is better for drip coffee, while a finer grind is better for espresso.

Third, pay attention to the water temperature. Too hot and you'll scald the beans; too cold and you won't extract all the flavor.

Fourth, do the brewing time sparingly. Five minutes is about right.

Comparing the Taste

Instant coffee and brewed coffee are very similar, but one thing you'll notice immediately is how bitter the former is compared to the latter. This is because instant coffee is usually made with Robusta coffee beans, while most brewed coffee is made with Arabica beans.

Arabica beans contain less caffeine than Robusta beans, which makes them sweeter and easier to drink. However, Robusta's caffeine content is higher, giving them a stronger kick.

For anyone who's ever had a cup of bad instant coffee, the advantages of ground coffee may seem obvious. After all, ground coffee is made from fresh beans roasted to perfection, while instant coffee is made from instant coffee granules.

However, instant coffee has some benefits that make it worth considering. When it comes to flavor, instant coffee is less likely to go stale than ground coffee since the granules are sealed in an airtight container.

Both instant and ground coffee have their pros and cons. Ultimately, the best decision is the one that works best for you.

Instant Coffee or Ground Coffee? When to Use

Like most coffee drinkers, you probably have instant and ground coffee in your cupboard. But when is it best to use each type?

Instant coffee is the way to get your caffeine fix. Just add hot water, and voila! You've got yourself a steaming cup of deliciousness.

Plus, instant coffee is super portable so you can take it on the go. Instant coffee is also easiest to pack when traveling.

However, ground coffee is the way to go if you want to treat yourself to a gourmet cup. It has a richer flavor than instant coffee and can be customized to create your perfect blend.


If you can't function without your morning cup of joe, you're probably pretty particular about your coffee storage. After all, there's a big difference between instant coffee and ground coffee.

Ground coffee beans need to be kept fresh to maintain their flavor, while instant coffee has a longer shelf life.

So, what's the best way to store your coffee? If you're using ground coffee, it's important to keep it in an airtight container. This will prevent the beans from going stale and losing their flavor.

Instant coffee can be stored in a regular kitchen cupboard, but it's important to check the expiration date before using it. Whether you prefer instant or ground coffee, the most important thing is to find a storage method that works for you.


In terms of cost, instant coffee is the cheaper choice - a jar of instant coffee generally costs a few dollars, while a pound of ground coffee can cost twice as much.

However, many coffee lovers would argue that you get what you pay for when it comes to ground coffee. They claim that the flavor of freshly brewed coffee is superior to that of instant coffee and that the extra expense is worth it for the improved taste.

Another factor to consider is convenience - instant coffee is quick and easy to prepare while brewing a pot of ground coffee takes a bit more time and effort.


Java junkies rejoice - instant coffee may be just as good for you as its freshly ground counterpart.

Regarding antioxidants, both types of the coffee pack an antioxidant punch. However, instant coffee has slightly more beneficial ingredients than ground coffee.

That's because the brewing process used to make instant coffee removes less of the coffee's natural oils, which are rich in antioxidants.

So instant coffee is the way to go if you want a healthy dose of antioxidants in your morning cup. Just be sure to ditch the sugary syrups and creams - they'll cancel out any health benefits you might otherwise reap from your brew.

The Caffeine Divide

The caffeine content of brewed coffee varies depending on the type of bean used. For example, espresso contains about 80 milligrams per 8 ounces, while drip coffee contains around 50 mg/8 oz.

However, the caffeine content of instant coffee is typically around 150 mg/16 FL Oz, which is why many people find it too strong.

To ensure you get what you want, know how much caffeine is in each type of coffee. Ground coffee contains half as much caffeine as brewed coffee.

Instant coffee has up to twice caffeine as much as ground. Espresso also contains more caffeine than regular coffee, so It pays to research before buying.

Shelf Life

Instant coffee has a shelf life of up to 20 years (but always check the "use by" date), while ground coffee lasts only about 4-6 weeks. This difference is because instant coffee is vacuum sealed and contains no moisture, while ground coffee is exposed to air and degrades more quickly.

So instant coffee is the way to go if you want your coffee to be fresh as long as possible. But if you prefer the taste of freshly ground coffee, be sure to use it within a few weeks of opening the package.

Instant vs. Ground: Which One Wins?

The great debate between instant and ground coffee has been going on for years. Some people swear by the convenience of instant coffee, while others would never give up their freshly brewed cup.

Which is better? Instant coffee is the clear winner if you're looking for convenience. Add hot water, and you're good to go—no grinding, brewing, or hassle.

However, ground coffee is the way to go if you're looking for flavor, and it is our favorite.

When coffee beans are ground, they release their oils and flavor compounds, resulting in a richer and more complex cup of coffee. Plus, there's something about the ritual of brewing a pot of coffee that adds to the enjoyment.

Our favorite coffee is Custom Roast Coffee because it is freshly roasted daily, and they use clean, sustainably sourced, single-origin beans. Theirs are the smoothest blends we've found.

In the end, it all comes down to personal preference. So, choose whichever one you like best and enjoy your heavenly cup.

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Bonus Buys:

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This is the cookbook you need to prepare designer, coffee shop-style coffee at home, with no experience necessary. Leave out a tip jar because your friends will think they're in a real coffee shop.

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You need to check this out. These crazy coasters will bring a smile and make a fun gift. Even The Coasters would love them.

Our Favorite Bonus Buy: NextMug

It drives us crazy to have our coffee get cold minutes after we pour it. We love insulated mugs and thermoses, but in a cold room or office, half the pleasure of drinking hot coffee is in holding the warm mug in your hands. 

NextMug is the solution. It is a temperature-controlled, self-heating mug that keeps your coffee hot (you choose the temperature) while the outside stays warm and comforting but never too hot—the best of both worlds.

Tip: Holding a warm mug against the inside of your wrists will make you warmer faster.

Thank you for reading. We hope you enjoyed this post about instant and ground coffee. Check our blog for more posts like this one, and share them with your friends. 

Coffee -The Way It Was Meant To Be