Know Your Instant Coffee: What’s The Difference Between Freeze-dried and Granulated?
We Australians are proud of our global reputation as the coffee masters. But surprisingly, it’s instant coffee, not freshly roasted that dominates our mugs. In fact, recent research shows that Australia is one of the few countries in which instant coffee consumption far outstrips that of freshly roasted coffee. A surprising 75% of Australia’s annual coffee consumption is instant!
Instant coffee has come a long way since its invention in 1901 by a Japanese scientist. Today, there are lots of different types of instant coffee products to choose from, with freeze-dried coffee and granulated instant coffee being the most popular.
So, what’s the difference? And which instant coffee should you choose for your workplace?
The difference starts with the beans.
There are many types of coffee beans, with different characters according to the region, season and variety. For example, Arabica beans produce a richer, smoother and more aromatic coffee flavour, while Robusta beans are known for a stronger, fuller-bodied flavour.
How is granulated and freeze-dried instant coffee made?
Both granulated instant coffee and freeze-dried instant coffee start the same way: coffee beans are roasted and then ground. To recover that much-loved coffee flavour and aroma, the ground coffee is then dissolved in water to concentrate the coffee solution. The resultant coffee extract then needs to be dried.
There are two methods:
This is the most commonly used drying process and results in granulated instant coffee. In spray-drying, the liquid coffee extract is sprayed in a fine mist of water through very hot, dry air. By the time the coffee droplets land, they have dried into powder form. Small particles will also stick together and become larger coffee granules. Granulated coffee tends to resemble small balls, which are roughly the same size as coarsely ground coffee.
In freeze-drying, the liquid coffee concentrate is frozen to about minus-40°C and then ground to the required granule size. The frozen granules are then dried at low temperature. The ice crystals are removed from the frozen coffee particles in a process known as “sublimation”, which slowly increases the temperature in a high vacuum system. The ice crystals then transform directly into gas, leaving us with the final freeze-dried coffee.
How do they compare?
The easiest way to compare freeze-dried coffee and granulated instant coffee is to assess the most important factors – aroma, flavour and cost.
Freeze-dried coffee may be a longer process, but the quality of the aroma and flavour are protected by the very low temperature and gentle drying conditions.
The longer process means that the natural flavour of the coffee is better preserved in freeze-dried coffee compared to granulated instant coffee.
Freeze-dried coffee tends to be more expensive as the beans are generally higher in quality and the process is more costly. Spray-drying is used for most instant or soluble coffees, which generally costs less due to the speed of preparation.
While freeze-dried coffee has the edge on flavour and aroma, when it comes to the crunch, tasters found that both granulated instant coffee and freeze-dried coffee made for a more productive workday!
Coffee is an essential workplace product and is known to assist your employees to be more productive. Staples range of kitchen products caters for all types of workplaces.