Instant Coffee Vs. Ground Coffee (The 8 Differences)

Last Updated on September 13, 2021 by John Moretti

The motto for coffee lovers is a well-brewed cup is a way of life. In most cases, coffee lovers have both options readily available.

  • Ground coffee offers broader aroma and flavor
  • Instant coffee is cheaper than ground coffee
  • Ground coffee retains more caffeine
  • Instant coffee is the perfect ingredient for cooking purposes
  • Ground coffee deteriorates naturally
  • Instant coffee crystals clump together at the bottom of the jar
  • Instant coffee offers convenience

What is Instant Coffee?

It is a false narrative to believe that instant coffee is not a direct derivative of the coffee bean. The majority of all instant coffees come from the Robusta coffee bean.

It is roasted into liquid form before being dehydrated into crystals. The dehydration process is highlighted by having water extracted from the mix then the concentrate is frozen into crystallized coffee grounds. Those granules will get treated once again. It will be for removing any remaining water before the product is packaged for distribution. The final steps are crucial to preserve the richness and flavor of instant coffee.

What is Ground Coffee?

Ground coffee is beans that have been ground to perfection. The process of making ground coffee begins with a manufacturer picking and drying out coffee cherries before the bean is removed. The quality of the bean will determine the flavor of your ground coffee. Usually, they will have to be ground to a specific size for effectiveness. But, the quality of the pot brewed is depended upon the quality of the beans harvested. 

The 8 Differences Between Instant and Ground Coffee

1. Instant coffee offers weak flavor and taste

Instant coffee manufacturers feel they’re in a constant battle with gaining better flavor for their products. Often, the dehydration process will impact the flavor and taste of the product. Some have dabbled with adding gourmet or organic ingredients to the mix.

Hopefully, the taste will improve, but it still fails in comparison to ground coffee. And the odds are high that instant coffee will never have the same flavor and taste as their competitor. Those characteristics are lost in the manufacturing process. The problem lies in the area of production. Steps are eliminated to produce a large amount of packed instant coffee. Often, the attention to making great-tasting coffee is forgotten. Some believe flavor and taste are a trade-off for convenience.

2. Ground coffee offers broader aroma and flavor

Ground coffee has a higher rate of flavor than its competition. Most roasters harvest their Arabica beans, then roast and ground them before packaging the finished product. They believe this attribute will boost their ability to provide more options in the market for their customers. Ground coffee allows for tweaking of the original recipe but without losing its flavor during the brewing process. It keeps all the essential oils and tastes intact for each cup poured from the pot. 

3. Instant coffee is cheaper than ground coffee

Usually, the difference in prices between instant and ground coffee is attributed to the production cost of the latter. The biggest reason is manufacturers are forced to use specialized equipment that guarantees a quality product. The cost of ground coffee can be expensive, especially if your taste is exclusively for high-end products. Plus, it will cost more based on the frequency of your consumption. 

Another factor is the availability of instant coffee, as it has a long shelf life in stores. Users need a smaller amount of instant coffee to make a cup each day. Plus, it is a cheaper item due to the simplistic nature of the production process. To keep the overall cost down, manufacturers will use a poorer quality coffee bean (Robusta) for their products. This will reduce the purchase price in all stores. 

4. Ground coffee retains more caffeine

The more popular ground coffees come from Arabica beans, but they may need to be blended with another bean to provide caffeine to the mix. The longer ground coffee stays heated, the more caffeine is extracted from the coffee brewed in your pot. This will provide a better-tasting product.

Instant coffee manufacturers will determine the amount of caffeine offered in each cup. Naturally, the Robusta bean is high in caffeine but low in sugar and fat. You cannot gain more caffeine by adding more instant coffee crystals to your cup. Often, the results are a bitter-tasting drink.

5. Instant coffee is the perfect ingredient for cooking purposes

Instant coffee is soluble, so it can be an ideal ingredient for cakes, cookies, smoothies, and other popular cooking recipes. Instant coffee gives a dish some flavor without adding extra liquid to the mix. Bakers love adding it to cakes and cookies as instant coffee can be blended in with eggs, butter, and other wet ingredients. 

6. Ground coffee deteriorates naturally

This may be hard to believe, but ground coffee can go bad if it is not used regularly. This is especially troubling for a product that has a reputation all about freshness. To slow natural deterioration, it is key for manufacturers to pick coffee beans while they’re fresh in the fields. Like most other farming products, coffee beans will go bad if there is little moisture left near their plant. This becomes a major problem as those coffee beans will lose their flavor and offer a dull taste to a user. 

7. Instant coffee crystals clump together at the bottom of the jar

Instant coffee never gets stale but will clump together at the bottom of the jar due to moisture. There is no rhyme or reason why this occurs. But, the clump together instant coffee crystals will quickly dissolve in hot water with no effect on the drink’s taste. Many fear each cup will offer less flavor, and the coffee will taste stale. Excessive moisture can be avoided by storing your instant coffee container in a drier climate inside the kitchen. 

8. Instant coffee offers convenience

If you are press for time, then instant coffee is the beverage of choice. Ground coffee cannot match it for speed.

To brew fresh ground coffee, you will have to ground up several coffee beans for use. Place the mix into a filter, then add hot water that will strain the coffee into a pot. Let it simmer before you get the brew to your liking. Usually, a cup of ground coffee will be ready between 10-to-15 minutes after starting from scratch. Thus, this task is very time-consuming. 

Instant coffee will not waste your time. All that you need is a cup, spoon, instant coffee, and hot or cold water. 

Convenience does not guarantee quality coffee. The quality of instant coffee is ruin when the crystals are placed into too much water. It is wise to disregard the packaging instructions and go with your gut instincts when brewing a cup of instant coffee.

Keep in mind that you must leave room for creamer, milk, or sugar. Still, in a matter of minutes, you can have a hot or cold cup of coffee. For most coffee drinkers, the lack of quality offered by instant coffee keeps their preference with ground coffee. Often, it comes down to the quality of the coffee bean. 

If you are not familiar with ground coffee, it will not dissolve in a cup of hot water. No, those granules will sink to the bottom of the cup if left alone to simmer. The equation does not work because the coffee grounds are larger than the instant coffee crystals.

Brewing time for ground coffee is not ideal for those who are constantly on the move. The entire process will take more than a few minutes to complete. Besides brewing the coffee, you will have to clean the machine, remove and discard the grounds. Plus, prepare your drink for travel. Too much preparation time is needed, which is not ideal in the short time available before leaving for work. 

Final Thoughts

Never discount the fact that coffee lovers will have instant coffee alongside their bag of ground coffee in the cupboard. Many feel each is a different style of drink.

However, there is a faction that dislikes instant coffee and will never come off their position ever. It is much more than one product comes in a sealed bag, while the other is housed inside a jar.

But like most beverages on the market, instant and ground coffee have several varieties available. Often, your choice may come down to personal preference: a convenient cup of coffee or the perfect blend that raises your appreciation of coffee. Some coffee drinkers believe your choice coincides with your lifestyle. 

Hopefully, learning about the differences between the two products will help you make the right choice for yourself.