The curiosity that is instant coffee and how to use fresh coffee in its place

The Dalgona coffee craze is running high and we thought this a prime time to cover a topic we frankly never thought we’d cover… instant coffee.

On the most basic level instant coffee is reconstituted coffee — roasted coffee that has been ground, extracted, and dried as a soluble. Drying brewed coffee is done in one of two ways, either by spraying or freezing. To spray dry coffee, brewed coffee extract is misted over a container releasing extremely hot air (480+ degrees F). Upon touching this scorching air, the coffee dries instantly and drops into the container as a solid. These coffee chunks are often referred to as coffee crystals. To freeze dry coffee, the coffee is first brewed into a think extract or concentrate and then flash frozen, forming a coffee ice slab, which is then broken into chunks or ground into fine granules. Next, the water (ice) is removed from these coffee pieces through a sublimation process called dry vacuuming. For both methods, the coffee is “rebrewed” by adding hot water.

While instant coffee generally has less caffeine and less flavor than fresh coffee, it does have a place in your pantry — namely for baking. Thankfully for avid bakers and Dalgona coffee lovers amongst us, it is possible and easy to substitute fresh coffee for instant coffee.

Swapping instant for fresh coffee

Pulverize your beans: Substitute, on a 1-to-1 ratio, instant coffee with very fine coffee grinds (espresso grind or Turkish coffee grind). If you do not have a grinder or have ground coffee on hand, you can put your grinds into a food processor and pulverize them into a fine powder.

Create an extract: In a French Press or measuring cup, brew a strong coffee using the same coffee grounds-to-water ratio you use to brew a regular cup of coffee but reduce the water by half. If you use standard brewing measurements, that would be 1 gram of coffee and 8 – 9 grams of water. Let the grounds steep for 5 minutes, stirring once at the 2 or 3 minute mark, and then strain the coffee out using a coffee filter or paper towel. This thickly brewed coffee will substitute for instant coffee on a 1-to-1 ratio.

Use brewed coffee: If baking with a recipe that calls for instant coffee and a liquid, use 4 ounces of strongly brewed coffee per teaspoon of instant coffee required and reduce the liquid content by 4 ounces elsewhere in the recipe. We recommend using coffee brewed in French press or Moka pot, if possible.

We hope this was helpful. For more cooking with coffee tips and recipes, please visit the Recipes section of our blog.

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