Last Updated on October 12, 2022 by Timothy Byron Smith
Ever been in the pickle of choosing espresso powder vs instant coffee? If not, that’s okay. Most people do not even give a second thought to choosing between the two. But did you know there are solid differences between espresso powder and instant coffee?
Yep, espresso powder and instant coffee are not one and the same thing. Choosing the right one can really enhance and refine your coffee beverages and desserts! If instant coffee made you a good drink or dessert, maybe choosing espresso powder would have made it outstanding? And vice versa!
Find out about all the differences and uses of instant coffee and espresso powder right here!
Espresso Powder VS Instant Coffee (Differences & Uses)
The basic difference between the two is in the kind of coffee used and the method of preparation for each.
What’s Espresso Powder?
Dark roasted coffee is used to make Espresso powder. Coffee beans are first ground and then brewed. Next, they are dehydrated and further ground to make them very fine. The key in espresso powder is to roast the coffee beans very dark to create a super strong and concentrated flavor.
The fundamental difference between instant coffee and espresso powder is the level of roasting of the coffee beans. When opposed to the harsh flavor of instant coffee, it contributes to a more tamed flavor.
Apart from that, espresso powder is as quick as instant coffee. There’s no need for portafilter loading, tamping, or anything like that! If you’re looking for a cheap way to satisfy your espresso craving, try making a shot with espresso powder.
What’s Instant Coffee?
Instant coffee is made using either of the two methods: spray drying or freeze-drying. The process involves brewing concentrated coffee and dehydrating it to make instant coffee granules or instant coffee powder.
Instant coffee is named instant for a reason. The only requirement is steaming hot water and that’s it! Add your coffee powder to it and enjoy.
Which Beans Are Used To Make Them?
Typically two different kinds of coffee beans are used to produce instant coffee and espresso powder.
Originated in Ethiopia and mostly grown in South America, Arabicas are high-quality and expensive coffee beans. That’s because they’re hard to grow and therefore produced in small quantities. They’re extremely flavourful with sweet and fruity undertones.
Espresso powder is prepared by using Arabica beans which in turn makes espresso powder all the more pricey. Arabica coffee beans are somewhat roasted dark and maintain a strong, concentrated yet subdued flavor.
Instant coffee’s typically made of Robusta coffee beans. However, some companies even use Arabica coffee beans which have a less harsh flavor.
They’re mainly farmed in Indonesia and Africa their abundant growth makes them cheaper. They naturally have a kind of bitter taste but you can easily fix that with a dash of sugar, milk, or both! Robusta coffee contains twice the amount of caffeine and has a harsher taste.
What Makes The Two Coffee Essentials Different From Each Other?
Instant coffee and espresso powder differ significantly over several factors. While espresso powder is expensive, instant coffee is cheaper. They are made from different beans and have different concentrations.
However, two other important factors that can pull you out of the dilemma to pick instant coffee vs espresso powder are taste and caffeine.
Since instant coffee is made from Robusta beans (which are only fairly decent) it tastes okay but not that flavorful. For a coffee lover, it’ll be a huge downgrade. Especially because of the harsh and bitter taste. But it’s great for you if you don’t have enough time to brew yourself a proper cup. It’s cheap so most people make do with it.
Espresso powder makes you an espresso shot. It may not taste identical to a shot pulled using a good espresso machine, however, it comes pretty close! It has a concentrated and strong flavor and leaves you satisfied.
The Caffeine Content
The main reason why anyone drinks coffee is, of course, caffeine. Instant coffee comes with a fixed caffeine content that you can only adjust by varying the amount of instant coffee. To give you an estimate, eight ounces of instant coffee can contain between approx 80 to 120 milligrams of caffeine.
On the contrary, despite being more concentrated, espresso powder has very low caffeine content. It can contain 58 milligrams of caffeine. However, some companies can have higher caffeine content. But, since it’s a shot (less quantity), drinking more of it can increase your caffeine intake.
Which Of The Two Is Better For You?
It all depends on why you’re using it and which requirements you wish to fulfill. In some cases, instant coffee will win over espresso powder. In others, you’ll consider espresso powder as your only choice.
If you’re looking for a cheap substitute then instant coffee is better. If you’re only concerned with getting your dose regardless of the flavors and taste or getting quick coffee then it’s your best bet.
However, if you’re willing to spend a little extra on quality and flavors then you might want to try some best espresso powders. It is low on caffeine content so you will have to sacrifice on that. However, it will produce a quality espresso shot. Plus, it goes perfectly with your chocolate dessert recipes!
Espresso is stronger in taste so you’ll need a whole lot of instant coffee to make up for that. This can mess with your proportion. Plus, instant coffee has a bitter aftertaste which can ruin the flavor you’re going for.
Leaving You With A Dash Of Wisdom…
The bottom line is you don’t always need an espresso machine or Starbucks to fulfill your coffee cravings. Alternatives like instant coffee and espresso powder can be super useful and make for great substitutes! So for your quick boost of caffeine, just get some hot steaming water and use either of the two.
However, as far as the espresso powder vs instant coffee debate is concerned, you can choose your preference depending on your desire. All you need to figure out is whether you want more caffeine or a richer flavor. They’ll both serve you well whichever you use!
Tim is the author and webmaster of this blog. He is a coffee aficionado who has always strived to succeed by simplifying the many facets of the coffee business into engaging and informative writing. In addition to helping readers discover their next brew, he intends to educate them about espresso and coffee.