How Instant Coffee Has Evolved

November 25, 2022

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Instant coffee was developed to be the ultimate convenience product, providing a cheap, easy, and quick fix for those who needed a caffeine boost. 

Along with the explosion in the growth of the specialty coffee industry, instant coffee continues to grow in popularity. Accounting for roughly a third of all coffee consumed worldwide, instant coffee will still be a relevant player in the coffee industry. 

Let’s take a quick look at the history of this popular coffee product.

The Evolution of Instant Coffee

The History of Instant Coffee

There’s some debate surrounding who actually invented instant coffee, but it was first patented in 1890 by New Zealander David Strang. Although Nescafe got its start in the late 1930s, it wasn’t until World War II that instant coffee really began to take off. Thanks to its long shelf life, portability, and ease of use, soluble coffee was an ideal addition to troop rations. 

In the 1960s, Nescafe introduced freeze-dried coffee, which exploded in popularity, especially in Europe. The freeze-drying process produced instant coffee that was far superior in flavor and quickly eclipsed spray-drying to become the most common way to create instant coffee. 

Today, the market for instant coffee is stronger than ever. Brazil and Colombia – both big producers of instant coffee – have seen substantial growth in the sector over the last few years. 

The role of the Covid-19 pandemic can’t be underestimated, here – more and more consumers have been looking for an affordable and convenient way to make coffee while spending more time at home. 

However, instant coffee simply isn’t what it used to be. The industry has evolved to cater to more educated and quality-conscious customers through innovations in quality development and marketing. These days, it’s common to see organic, fair trade, and 100 percent arabica instant coffee on supermarket shelves.

Specialty Instant Coffee

It was, perhaps, only a matter of time before the specialty coffee industry began to show an interest in developing high-quality instant coffee. After all, there are lots of benefits to being able to produce such a convenient product. 

For starters, roasters don’t have to worry as much about whole bean coffee sitting for more than two weeks on supermarket shelves. Second, offering instant coffee is a way to reach potential customers who are interested in exploring specialty coffee but aren’t ready to commit to a coffee grinder and a pour-over dripper.

Still, specialty roasters have to tread carefully here – they’ve built their reputations on providing the highest quality coffee beans and roasting them with care in order to showcase the qualities that make them worth paying extra for.

Although some smaller roasters in Europe and the United States had been flirting with instant coffee for a while, the Covid-19 pandemic was a motivating factor for many companies. 

During the early stages of the pandemic, roasters were forced to scale back retail operations, often finding themselves with a surplus of green coffee. Forced to improvise, roasters began to see the value in diversifying their online offerings, which has seen the emergence of single-serve instant coffee options on several specialty roasters’ websites.

Thanks to continued improvements in freeze-drying technology, smaller roasters are now able to offer an instant product that adequately represents their specialty coffee beans. This offers their customers more flexibility in brewing, and consumers who might never have considered instant coffee as an option can feel confident that they’re buying a quality product. 

Specialty instant coffee also fits well with the growing popularity of outdoor lifestyle pursuits. The convenience of carrying single-origin coffee in soluble form certainly appeals to many who enjoy camping, hiking, and quality coffee.

The Future of Instant Coffee

As we’ve seen, instant coffee appears to be a pantry staple for many people, and mixing soluble granules into a mug of hot water is how millions of us start each day. 

Although specialty instant coffee is still very small scale, many industry experts see it as an important part of the future of high-quality coffee. Some small-scale roasters are on a mission to improve the quality of this product.

Meticulous testing and research are beginning to yield results. Moreover, proprietary freeze-drying methods are being developed to help preserve coffee beans’ quality and intrinsic characteristics. The results could be a big win for producers, roasters, and consumers.

Written by: Arne Preuss, Founder of Coffeeness.de

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Colombian Coffee

The Colombian Coffee logo with its distinctive triangle is symbolic of the Colombian coffee producer who works hard, produces a quality product, does things right, and brings an authentic product to market.

Halal

We satisfy the needs of Muslim consumers with the continuous and consistent production of Halal products.

BASC

With the BASC certification, we assure our clients and control entities of the confidence and security in our production chain, and in our overseeing and controlling of the production, packaging, and transportation processes of our product against illicit trafficking.

BRC British Retail Consortium

Supported in GFSI systems, recognized internationally, we produce safe, authentic and high-quality food products satisfying the needs of our clients and markets.

IFS

Our risk-based focus allows production of safe and high-quality products offering confidence and recognition for our clients.

ISO 22000

Our safety system is based on the analysis of hazards and critical control points (APPCC), always incorporating Good Manufacturing Practices.

ISO 9001

We offer reliable products to our clients, complying with the highest quality standards with which our products are processed by committed, responsible and highly trained personnel.

ISO 14001

We guarantee that our product is processed with ecological conscientiousness, conserving the environment and natural resources.

ISO 45001

At Buencafé we utilize work practices that continually reduce risks, always taking into account the safety of those we work with.

Fairtrade

At Buencafé we produce socially responsible products contributing to the improvement of the quality of life for coffee producers, guaranteeing fair prices, good working conditions and a sustainable environment.

Rainforest

We support sustainable agriculture via sourcing and the transformation of Rainforest certified coffee.

NONGMO

With the NON GMO Project certificate, we offer our clients the guarantee that our products are not genetically modified at any point during processing from seed to market.

United States Organic

At Buencafé we are aware of the environment. That’s why we’re aligned with the most rigorous organic agricultural standards which allows us to reach our different international markets, including the United States market.

European Organic

At Buencafé we are aware of the environment. That’s why we’re aligned with the most rigorous organic agricultural standards which allows us to reach our different international markets, including the European market.

Taiwanese Organic

At Buencafé we are aware of the environment. That’s why we’re aligned with the most rigorous organic agricultural standards which allows us to reach our different international markets, including the Taiwanese market.

South Korean Organic

At Buencafé we are aware of the environment. That’s why we’re aligned with the most rigorous organic agricultural standards which allows us to reach our different international markets, including the South Korean market.

Mexican Organic

At Buencafé we are aware of the environment. That’s why we’re aligned with the most rigorous organic agricultural standards which allows us to reach our different international markets, including the Mexican market.

Colombian Organic

At Buencafé we are aware of the environment. That’s why we’re aligned with the most rigorous organic agricultural standards which allows us to reach our different international markets, including the Colombian market. At Buencafé we utilize green coffee which complies with the productive practices that protect the environment in accordance with Colombian regulations.

Colombian Coffee

We utilize the geographic indication as a guaranty of origin guaranteeing the authenticity of the product and complying with the quality standards of Colombian coffee. In 2007, Colombian coffee was recognized by the European Union Commission as a protected geographical product. In 2013 the Swiss government conferred that same protection to Colombian Coffee.

Denomination of origin

We utilize a certificate of origin for 100% Colombian coffee. This seal is used to highlight the quality recognized in Colombian coffee

Kosher

We satisfy the needs of the Jewish community with the continuous and consistent production of Kosher products.

Japanese Organic

At Buencafé we are aware of the environment. That’s why we’re aligned with the most rigorous organic agricultural standards which allows us to reach our different international markets, including the Japanese market.

Letter from our Director

At Buencafé we have been conscious of sustainability since our beginning, when the term had just begun to be mentioned in the world.  

Over our 49-year history, the factory has had four expansions (1983, 1997, 2008 and 2019). The technology behind production processes has been updated and perfected. Production has increased, diversifying and innovating the product portfolio andour commercial scope has expanded. We’ve achieved national and international certifications for our products and for our quality, safety, environmental management, and occupational health and safety management systems, among others. Buencafé was the first Colombian business certified in ISO 14001 and nowadays has 25 different certifications.

The commitment today is consolidating sustainability in each and every initiative we propose, tackling the creation of sustainable value in the three essential pillars: economic, social and environmental.

“Living optimism as a transformative force to create sustainable value in the world of coffee” is the highest goal that guides our daily actions. Is the center of our culture, our decisions, our strategy, our style, our conversations and relationships. Is how we  inspire others and multiply the impact of everything we do.

I invite you to learn about our sustainability path.