Is Instant Coffee Bad for You: 6 Important Facts

With the daily hustle of our late mornings, we don’t have the time to make coffee the traditional way and opt for the easier way out. But have you ever wondered while sipping your cup of coffee – is instant coffee bad for you?

Is Instant Coffee Bad for You?

Instant coffee has been a lifesaver for many people. Be it a hard day at work or a quick energetic boost up in the morning – reaching out for that cup of instant coffee is a remedy for almost everything for you.

Coffee has been around for many years, but since people are very curious and health-conscious nowadays, which makes them question everything they consume.

So, is instant coffee bad for you? This question is also a part of that curiosity. This article explores what exactly is the answer to this popularly asked question.

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Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Benefits of Coffee

Coffee is majorly consumed by a large population all over the world. Of course, when we ask if instant coffee is bad for you, it is obvious that coffee has health benefits as well.

Here are a few of them:

  1. Coffee helps reduce weight – Coffee increases the body’s metabolic rate1 and helps in decreasing fat from the body
  2. Increases energy levels in the body – Caffeine increases the levels of adrenaline in the body which gives an energetic boost to our body. This is the reason why many supplements have caffeine as an ingredient.
  3. Coffee helps in brain functioning – Caffeine is absorbed by the blood and sent straight to the brain, where it increases neuron firing2. This in turn helps keep the nervous system alert and improve overall function.
  4. Coffee contains large amounts of antioxidants – Caffeine is said to be a very good antioxidant and prevents oxidation in the body.
  5. Caffeine helps to process sugar better – Drinking coffee without sugar is said to be beneficial for processing sugar in the body and can help keep diabetes at bay.
  6. Coffee is much better than all the other alcoholic beverages – Let’s admit it, coffee is way better than alcohol. Alcohol damages your liver and can cause a long number of health conditions, but coffee is known to be very good for your liver as well.

A Little About Instant Coffee

drinking coffee on an empty stomach
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Instant coffee is known by many names – coffee crystals, coffee powder, and soluble coffee. Instant coffee is also manufactured in liquid form.

It is a very popular beverage that is obtained from brewed coffee beans and is prepared commercially by either freeze-drying or spray drying and can be rehydrated.

Instant coffee does live up to its name. You can brew a quick cup of instant coffee by adding instant coffee beans to hot water or milk and then stirring it well.

Instant coffee was first manufactured by the French in 1881 and was then further produced in Buffalo and new york where it gained popularity and thus Nescafe was born.

Instant Coffee v. Filter Coffee

Instant coffee and filter coffee do not vary much in terms of flavour. Even though instant coffee might taste a bit more bitter than ground coffee, it all comes down to dark or light roasted.

The procedure to make instant coffee beans and ground or filter coffee beans is also very different.

Ground coffee is much more expensive than instant coffee as it takes much time and manpower to be made. The authenticity of ground coffee is much more than that of instant coffee.

Ground coffee has much higher levels of pleasant acidity in them with a much richer flavour.

You could say that an instant cup of coffee is a pre-brewed coffee that is packed and processed, but a filtered cup of coffee is freshly brewed coffee.

No doubt, instant coffee is easy to make and has a long shelf life, but the satisfaction of making filter coffee in a coffee maker, from scratch, and then pouring it into a cup while the rich aroma wafts in the air – is something a true coffee lover would enjoy, along with the flavour.

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How is Instant Coffee Produced?

It is noted that almost 50% of the world’s instant coffee is made with the help of green coffee.

The green coffee bean is roasted well to bring out the aroma and flavour. The roasting takes 10-15 minutes after which the beans are cooled. Once cooled, the beans are ground finely into instant coffee powder.

There are two methods through which instant coffee is made: Freeze drying and spray drying.

1. Freeze Drying

Freeze-dried coffee beans3 are made by removing the water with the help of sublimation. These coffee beans are expensive but are high in quality.

The coffee extracts are frozen rapidly and then broken into small granules. These granules are then sifted and sorted as per their size.

Then the frozen granules are kept for drying in a metal tray in an enclosed chamber. The chamber consists of a vacuum, which is essential for drying with the help of hot air.

The granules are further sublimed to remove the frozen water. Once this process goes through, the granules are packaged for commercial use.

2. Spray Drying

Spray-dried coffee beans4 are much more finely ground as compared to freeze-dried beans.

Spray drying helps produce a larger scale of production in less amount of time. The beans are produced with the help of spray wheels and drying towers. The whole process is completed in under 5-30 seconds and has its advantages and disadvantages.

Uses of Instant Coffee

Instant coffee is not only used for drinking, there is an endless number of commercial uses for instant coffee.

Instant coffee is very convenient to make iced coffee or Greek frappe. Many countries mix instant coffee with boiling milk and sugar to make a latte or other flavoured coffee.

Coffee also has many non-food uses as well. Caff enol, an ingredient found in coffee is used to make a non-toxic black-and-white photograph developer.

Instant coffee is also used as a flavouring agent in many desserts and bakery items. Coffee-flavoured chocolates and toffees, as well as protein shakes, are also available.

In What Ways is Instant Coffee Bad for You?

Even though coffee is an all-time favourite drink, the question is – is instant coffee bad for you? Still bugs people.

Given below are a few points that could help decode this question.

1) Instant Coffee has Unhealthy Additives

Instant coffee contains many extra additives like hydrogenated oils5, vegetable oils, processed sugar, and many other preservatives.

Instant coffee packets that include non-dairy creamers are usually made out of the residue of the coffee bean when exposed to heat.

2) Instant Coffee Contains Acrylamide

Instant coffee contains high levels of acrylamide. Acrylamide is formed in foods that are subjected to high temperatures, it is a very hazardous chemical for the body.

Acrylamide could cause the risk of cancer and comes from the amino acids and sugars that are present in the food. As instant coffee is subjected to high temperatures, it forms acrylamide which may cause many types of cancers.

3) Instant Coffee has Less Caffeine Than Regular Coffee

The caffeine content in instant coffee is less than that of filtered coffee.

A single cup of instant coffee has 30-90 mg of caffeine whereas, in a cup of regular coffee, the amount of caffeine ranges from 70-140 mg per cup.

Sure, instant coffee is a good choice for people who want to reduce the amount of caffeine but in terms of flavours, ground coffee is much tastier and richer in flavour.

4) Instant Coffee Can Possess As A Serious Health Hazard

The non-dairy creamers added to instant coffee are a health hazard. It contains sodium silicate, which could cause the risk of developing kidney and liver diseases.

The hydrogenated and vegetable oils added into instant coffee packets can give rise to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and obesity as well.

So, is instant coffee bad for you? Well, the disease caused by instant coffee might be pointing toward the answer!

5) Instant Coffee Affects Blood

The instant coffee that we drink causes a decrease in iron absorption by the blood. This causes a decrease in hemoglobin levels in the blood and leads to pale-looking skin.

Less hemoglobin in the blood means less oxygen-carrying capacity. A person having less oxygen-carrying capacity is susceptible to so many diseases and is said to have low immunity as well.

Is instant coffee bad for you even if it hampers your blood? You tell us.

6) Instant Coffee Is Inexpensive for A Reason

Well, we all know that ground coffee beans are much more expensive than instant coffee. Have you ever wondered why is instant coffee cheap, instead of is instant coffee good for you?

The answer here is that instant coffee is made in a spree of mass production with a few unethical ingredients that may cause damage to your health.

Even though instant coffee seems to have less caffeine, this makes people consume more which can be dangerous.

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The Bottomline

There are many instant coffee brands found in the market like Nescafe and Bru and are also available in various flavours like latte and espresso.

But then again, is instant coffee bad for you? We have heard many times that overdoing anything can cause negative effects. So, maintain a limit!

There are many amazing benefits of instant coffee that you can enjoy, that is if consumed within limits.

So, in answer to the question – is instant coffee bad for you, we would say, there is no harm in drinking instant coffee and keeping your favourite type of coffee on your shelf.

But if you could opt for filtered real coffee, there is nothing like it!

Infographic that shows 7 Unhealthy Drinks You Should Avoid
Icy Health
  1. Martin, Andrew P., and Stephen R. Palumbi. “Body size, metabolic rate, generation time, and the molecular clock.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 90.9 (1993): 4087-4091. ↩︎
  2. Shlens, Jonathon, et al. “The structure of multi-neuron firing patterns in primate retina.” Journal of Neuroscience 26.32 (2006): 8254-8266. ↩︎
  3. Nigra, Ayelén D., et al. “Antitumor effects of freeze-dried Robusta coffee (Coffea canephora) extracts on breast cancer cell lines.” Oxidative medicine and cellular longevity 2021 (2021): 1-16. ↩︎
  4. Wongsa, Prinya, et al. “Quality and bioactive compounds of blends of Arabica and Robusta spray-dried coffee.” Food Chemistry 283 (2019): 579-587. ↩︎
  5. Emken, E. A. “Nutrition and biochemistry of trans and positional fatty acid isomers in hydrogenated oils.” Annual review of nutrition 4.1 (1984): 339-376. ↩︎

Last Updated on by laibaarif

Author

Ayushi Mahajan
  1. Note to author: All coffee contains acrylamide, not just instant coffee. Roasting coffee beans creates acrylamides.

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