If you’re like most people, you probably grew up thinking that instant coffee was the lowest form of the beans. And to be honest, it kind of is. It’s a cheaper way to get your caffeine fix, and it’s not exactly gourmet. But you can still make it taste delightful!
Growing up as a military kid, there were a lot of times we would be stuck living in temporary housing. Sometimes we had a kitchen. Other times, all we had was a mini fridge. That meant we had to make do with our circumstances. And a lot of times, that meant instant coffee and instant tea.
As a former Army Ranger, my dad could make do with almost any form of coffee. My mom, on the other hand, is more particular. She taught me a few tricks to make even the most paltry cup of joe taste as if it came from a café. Now, I’m going to share those secrets with you!
Before we get to my tips on how to make instant coffee taste better, let’s find out what makes up instant coffee.
The Science Behind Instant Coffee
Instant coffee is made from real coffee beans, just like regular brewed coffee. First, the soluble and volatile contents of the beans are extracted. This means that all the delicious flavors and aromas that make up your cup of joe can be preserved without further roasting or brewing.
To turn these compounds into a powder, manufacturers remove most of the water so that only powder or concentrated soluble coffee powder remains. It’s been dehydrated for your convenience – add water, and you have yourself an easy brew!
The Benefits of Instant Coffee
The process used to make instant coffee offers several benefits over traditional methods. For starters, we all know that it takes significantly less time than brewing a pot with fresh coffee grounds. No waiting around while your machine heats up and does its thing. Put hot water in your mug, spoon in instant coffee, and stir.
Instant coffee is incredibly shelf-stable (it won’t spoil like a bag of ground beans left on a shelf). And because it requires no additional equipment or supplies, it’s often more affordable than other methods too!
Now, let’s talk about how we discovered how make instant coffee taste better.
Make it with the right temperature of water
If you are camping, traveling, or anywhere you can’t check the temperature of your water, you might use boiling water (please don’t). Boiling water can scald and burn the coffee, leaving you with a bitter cup. If you have no way to measure the temperature, we’ve found that you can wait a couple of minutes after taking it off the heat and let it cool to get close to the perfect brewing temp.
Instant coffee has already been brewed and dehydrated; you’re just adding heat in the form of water to rehydrate it. Water that is too hot can make it taste bitter. If you use cold water, your coffee will be weak and flavorless.
Add creamer or milk
We all love creamy coffee! The fat in milk or creamer helps to balance and smooth out the flavor of instant coffee. If you’re looking for a healthy alternative, try adding some unsweetened almond milk or oat milk.
But if you’re a vegan, dairy-free, or trying to limit your fat intake, you may want to avoid adding creamer or milk. To help improve the flavor of your instant coffee without adding creamers and milks, try adding spices like nutmeg or cinnamon to give it an added kick.
Alternatively, you could use almond extract or vanilla extract instead of creamer. Just be sure to use small amounts.
Add a pinch of salt
Believe it or not, adding just a little salt can help bring out the flavor in your coffee! Don’t overdo it – just a pinch should do the trick.
I find that adding salt makes instant coffee taste nuttier and more decadent, almost like a high-end drip-brew. It’s also great for balancing out overly acidic or bitter flavors.
Dissolve in cold water first
If your instant coffee tastes bitter, try dissolving it in cold water first and then adding the mixture to your hot water. Doing this helps to reduce the harsh acidity and any powdery residue that could be present in your cup.
The granules in instant coffee contain a substance called amylum, which can cause the grounds to form a powdery texture and taste when added directly to hot water. By pre-dissolving the granules in cold water, you create a smoother cup of joe free of bits or residue.
Choose the correct ratio of coffee to water
This one seems obvious but is easy to overlook. Too much instant coffee grounds will make your coffee taste too strong and bitter. On the other hand, if there’s not enough in your cup, you’ll end up with a weak, flavorless cup of brown water. So it’s crucial to pick the correct ratio of grounds and water for a good cup of instant joe.
I recommend using two teaspoons of instant coffee for every six ounces of hot water for the best result. Most instant coffee containers will have instructions for proper ratios, so check this before you brew.
Add flavor to your cup
Try adding flavoring like cinnamon or nutmeg to make your instant coffee taste better. You can also add flavored syrups or even a teaspoon of cocoa powder for a delicious mocha flavor.
You can also experiment with flavored syrups or alternative sweeteners like honey or stevia. A spoonful of peanut butter or almond butter can also go a long way in adding some delicious flavor and texture to your cup.
Try a different brand of instant coffee
Like your favorite coffee beans, there are tons of brands and types of instant coffee out there. Some may be more expensive than others, but you can usually find ones that suit your taste and budget.
If you’re not satisfied with the flavor of your current instant coffee, consider trying another one – you may be pleasantly surprised! There are even gourmet instant coffees out there that could make a great change of pace from your regular cup.
Use a good coffee mug
Everyone has a favorite mug (I know I do!). A good mug can help make your instant coffee taste even better. Choose one that’s made with thick walls, so it retains heat and one that has enough room for your creamers and flavorings.
Styrofoam and paper cups can infuse your coffee with an unpleasant flavor, so it’s best to avoid them. Invest in a quality mug, and you’ll have a more enjoyable drinking experience every time!
Use alternative sweeteners
Sugar is the traditional way of sweetening coffee, but if you’re looking for a healthier alternative, try using natural or artificial sweeteners such as honey, agave, stevia, or monk fruit extract. These alternatives are usually lower in calories and packed with antioxidants.
Just be sure to use it sparingly – a little bit of sweetness goes a long way!
Add some butter
Bullet coffee has become increasingly popular in recent years, so why not try it out with your instant coffee? Adding a pat of butter gives your cup a creamy texture that’s surprisingly tasty!
Additionally, adding butter to your coffee can help work as a breakfast substitute. The fat in the butter will help you feel fuller for a more extended period of time.
Try some of these tips and tricks for the ultimate cup of instant joe. With the proper ratio of water to coffee, plus some added flavorings, you can make your instant coffee taste as good as any cafe brew.
So the next time you need a quick cup of java, don’t settle for anything less than the perfect cup – with these tips, you can have it!
Good luck and happy brewing!