Like many college students, I cannot start a busy day on campus without a cup of coffee. Whether it be hot, iced, Vietnamese, or INSTANT COFFEE!

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The Process

First, let me debunk the process of the production of instant coffee. According to the official NESCAFÉ website, instant coffee is made through a six step process, with the first five steps being the simple process of making the brew.

1. Growing: This process begins with Arabica and Robusta coffee plants (a blend unique to NESCAFÉ's product) in their nursery, where they are grown and cared for until their coffee cherries are ready to harvest. 

2. Harvesting: The ripe cherries are harvested by farmers and processed to develop the sensory characteristics of the specific type of coffee beans. 

3. Roasting: Roasting of the coffee beans allows them to further develop their flavor and sensory profiles. 

4. Grinding: The roasted coffee beans are then ground into a coarse powder.

5. Extraction: The extraction process of the coarse coffee powder is similar to what you are used to for a brewed coffee, with hot water poured over the coffee powder. (Caffeine is a water-soluble compound, meaning that this extraction process is what allows us to have a stimulating cup of coffee) 

6. Drying: This step removes as much water as possible from the brew, in order for it to develop into a fine powder. More specifically, there are two methods of drying that instant coffee companies use to get the liquid coffee concentrate into the iconic granules that we are familiar with. 

Spray drying:

This method dries the liquid coffee extract by spraying the liquid into a stream of hot air at the top of a tall, cylindrical tower. As the droplets fall, they dry and the resulting fine powder lands at the bottom of the tower. Finally, the fine powder is dampened and sieved to ensure that all the granules are approximately the same size before they are filled into jars. 

Freeze drying: 

To begin, the liquid coffee extract is sent to freeze at about -40ºC, causing it to form a thin, solid layer. This layer is then broken up into tiny pieces and put through a vacuum, which lowers the boiling point of water so that all the water in the layer is evaporated out. This preserves all the coffee flavor and results in a solid, soluble coffee. 

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Okay, now you know WHAT instant coffee is, but why should you drink it? It's a powder you mix into a hot cup of water or milk, how can it possibly make a good coffee? I get it, I was skeptical at first, too. So here are my reasons why you should consider instant coffee as your morning pick-me-up:

1. Instant Coffee is Cheap

Starbucks, specifically the one located on the UCSD campus, sells a Grande cup of brewed coffee for $3.25. With a college budget, buying a $3.25 cup of coffee every day (and sometimes twice, for those who like more caffeine) is not feasible. But don't worry, a bottle of Nescafe's instant coffee is no more than $5 for about 100 servings. That's $0.05 a cup! 

Do you like the taste of Starbucks Pike Place and absolutely cannot compromise on the flavor? Well, Starbucks even sells their own instant coffee (and it's pretty good)! 

What a great way to start the day: with a happy wallet. 

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2. Instant Coffee is Delicious

Don't knock it till you try it... There are so many varieties and flavors to choose from, so I'm sure you will find something you like. It is also very customizable, depending on what flavorings and milks you have available. For example, make it your own with vanilla extract and oatmilk, or some honey and a sprinkle of cinnamon. You can even increase the caffeine content of your drink by adding more instant coffee powder. 

Baking Tip: I even add a teaspoon of instant coffee powder to my brownie batter to enhance the chocolate flavor! So versatile!

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3. Instant Coffee is Easy to Make 

I cannot start a study session without a cute cup of coffee to set the mood, and I'm sure many can relate. But, when I'm in a rush to finish the ten 80-minute lectures that I should have completed last week, the last thing I want to do is spend my valuable time in the kitchen, much less head to my nearest coffee shop to buy a cup of flavored hot water (AKA coffee). 

Solution to this problem is: instant coffee! Just have a container of it at your desk and a kettle nearby. Boom, instant study sesh beverage. How quick, how convenient. 

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Here are some of my favorite instant coffee recipes:

Brown Sugar Shaken Instant Coffee (Starbucks dupe!)

Dalgona Coffee - 3 Ways! 

So, what are you going to drink tomorrow morning?