Is espresso powder the same as instant coffee? It’s with good reason that this is such a common question. After all, an espresso bean is nothing more than a coffee bean roasted and brewed in a different way. So why wouldn’t this extend to espresso and coffee in powdered form? But the answer to this question is actually a firm ‘No.’
We’ll go into more detail in the following sections, but the short answer above is plenty to go on. If anyone asks ‘Is espresso powdered the same as instant coffee, tell them the similarity is all on the surface. In order to explain the differences between instant coffee and powdered espresso, we’ll start with a separate discussion of each.
Espresso Powder: What Is It and How is It Used?
First, what exactly is espresso powder? Essentially, espresso powder (occasionally called espresso crystals) is a concentrated form of dehydrated espresso. Once the espresso is brewed and completely dried out, it’s ground again, this time into an extremely finely grained powder.
Powdered espresso is used exclusively for baking. Its intense and bold flavor enhances the taste of chocolate without infusing much of its own. A crucial ingredient in many types of cakes, brownies, and other baked goods, espresso acts upon chocolate much like a spice does.
Unlike espresso powder, instant coffee is ground coffee beans that will dissolve in hot water and turn into a cup or more of actual coffee. No self-respecting coffee aficionado likes the flavor of instant coffee, but it’s definitely drinkable and qualifies as a low-quality coffee.
Here are the steps involved in making instant coffee:
- These roasted beans are then ground, just like regular coffee
- There are two ways to turn this standard coffee into the instant version
- These methods are freeze drying or spray drying
- The spray drying process consists of spraying a mist of brewed coffee through extremely hot air. The water evaporates out of the coffee and the brewed coffee turns into dehydrated coffee flakes or crystals.
- You can learn about the freeze drying process right here, but the result is the same dehydrated coffee powder that’s created through spray drying.
- Normal green coffee beans are roasted to bring out that familiar coffee flavor
Types of Instant Coffee Beans
Here are the two kinds of beans that are typically used to make instant coffee:
- Arabica beans. These beans make coffee that’s sweet in flavor and smoothly textured. The acidity level in Arabica beans tends to be rather high, but this is offset by berry and citrus notes. Arabica coffee has a higher acidity, but may have aromas or flavors of sugar, citrus, and berry tones. Mostly cultivated in Latin America, Arabica beans are more expensive to produce than Robusta because they are harder to grow. This is because in each tree they are more susceptible to insects and yield fewer fruit than in the Robusta trees.
- Robusta beans. Typically, Robusta beans contain substantially more caffeine than its Arabica counterpart. In terms of flavor, they lack the sweetness of Arabica beans and taste a little more bitter. You might also taste a bit of peanut at the back end of coffee made with Robusta beans. It is usually much easier to grow and maintain Robusta beans because of their heartiness. Lastly, they grow faster for each tree and contain more fruit
Well, Is Espresso Powder the Same as Instant Coffee Or Not?
Is espresso powder the same as instant coffee? It should be fairly clear by now that espresso powder and instant coffee are two very different things. But what differences are there? The similarity the two seem to exhibit are only on the surface, and the contrasts between them do more to define them.
In this section, we’ll clarify the biggest differences between espresso powder and instant coffee. Learn more about espresso powders.
Amount of Caffeine
One of the biggest differences between espresso powder and instant coffee is the amount of caffeine they contain. An 8 oz cup of instant coffee can have as little as 30 mg of caffeine, but it is not uncommon for it to have up to 90 mg. The exact amount depends on the brand of instant coffee you use and the exact beans used to produce it.
The caffeine content of the coffee varies according to whether it was made with instant coffee or regular grounds. Instant coffee contains between 30-90 mg per cup of 8 ounces. It may vary depending on the brand of coffee and the types of beans used. Typically, instant coffee has a bit less caffeine than regular ground coffee.
Espresso powder has approximately the same level of caffeine as an average shot of espresso. An average espresso shot has just over 60 mg of caffeine per every 1-1.5 oz. Again, espresso powder is rarely used in coffee drinks. Bakers use it fairly often, in a variety of chocolate desserts, but it’s a bit too intense for most palates to be used as a substitute for instant coffee.
Here’s a quick list of what flavors to expect from espresso powder and instant coffee:
- When used for baking, espresso powder greatly enhances the flavor of chocolate
- Espresso powder is rarely used for coffee because it doesn’t taste as rich as normal espresso
- There is a wide variety when it comes to the flavor of an instant coffee
- The taste of instant coffee depends largely on the quality of the beans
- Most people think that instant coffee made with only Arabica beans tastes the best
- Freeze-dried instant coffee usually tastes better than spray-dried versions
- When made with freeze-dried Arabica beans, instant coffee tends to taste a bit sweeter than regular coffee
Is espresso powder the same as instant coffee? As you can see from above, the answer is a definite no. Not only are they made differently, they also have different flavor profile and are used for very different things. The main thing to remember is that is that instant coffee is for drinking, while espresso is used for baking. But neither one makes as tasty a cup as quality drip coffee. Learn more about espresso.