If sales rates have anything to say, the love of coffee is soaring in Pakistan. To compare other rates, coffee in the UK is dropping off in favour of tea, and coffee in the US is rising in popularity. Interestingly, only 7% of Americans drink instant coffee, where 77% of British people drink instant coffee. As a coffee connoisseur, I have to wonder, is part of the reason coffee sales are trickling off due to how people enjoy, or rather don’t enjoy, their coffee? I’ve seen a lot of saddening coffee practices and I’d like to set the record straight.
If you are a “chai” or even a “karak chai” person, you would agree that cheap, ungraded teas wouldn't pass your palate unless there is nothing else left to drink! And if you are a hardcore tea person, I'm pretty sure you'd never want to swallow a cup of an instant 3 in 1 sachet of “chai”. If you had the option, you would take the pains of boiling the water and adding the milk and tea at the precise water temperature and timing to get the best cup of tea. I'm sure you have at least one person in your household who can't live without a cup of hot refreshing tea, and they would do anything to get it!
Just like tea, coffee is not easy. It requires close attention being paid to the grind, the temperature, the amounts of grinds and water you use, and the methods by which you brew. It’s easy to see why many turn their attention to instant coffee powders and pre-ground. But I’m here to tell you why you shouldn’t skip those important steps that take coffee from fresh beans to delectable beverage.
Health is paramount.
While instant coffee and ground coffee are pretty comparable, there’s a key difference that makes a lasting impact over time. To put it simply, instant coffee has far less caffeine than a fresh grind. A fresh cup of coffee can contain up to 40 mg more of caffeine than a cup of instant. That difference makes a big impact. Where some people will toss back cup after cup of that awful powdered coffee to get a buzz, those who take the time to brew from freshly ground beans can enjoy a single cup of coffee and get the most out of it in just that one cup. Excessive coffee consumption can cause a multitude of physical effects, such as jitters, nervousness, headaches, and a rapid heart rate. Over consuming coffee can also increase the risk of type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s Disease. By drinking quality coffee, you reduce the amount of coffee you need to ingest because it has the perfect amount of caffeine in a single cup.
Let's not forget the sad reality of powdered milk being used in instant coffee (mostly in 3 in 1 sachets). Would you really want to be consuming shampoo with your coffee? If you're a Pakistani living in Pakistan right now, you know what i'm talking about. Lets leave that for another time.
Why is instant coffee lower in caffeine, anyway?
Good question! Instant coffee starts out with good intentions. It starts with fresh coffee beans. Then, the beans are roasted for flavour. That alone kills off some of the nutrients and caffeine, which is the same reason why, contrary to popular belief, dark roast coffee is actually lower in caffeine content. Then, the beans are ground and brewed into coffee. At this point, the beverage is perfect. Then, its put through a process to dehydrate it and sometimes preservatives are added to keep the powder free from moisture and give it a long shelf life. Doesn’t sound so tasty, does it?
Plus, instant coffee requires more sugar to be added to get the taste up to par. Sugar, especially regular intake of it, is awful for the body in so many ways. It produces an insulin spike with just a single cup of coffee with added sugar in it, which puts you at risk for diabetes and promotes weight gain because it tricks your body into thinking it’s hungry, even when you’re not at all actually hungry. Sugar also degrades the taste of coffee. More on that later!
You deserve something special every morning.
If you haven’t yet treated yourself to a taste test comparing instant coffee to a freshly ground brew, I invite you to do so. The difference alone will make you see my point instantly. Fresh coffee is just better. The beans of instant coffee aren’t often a good quality. Simply, the beverages don’t even taste similar. That’s how degraded the quality of taste gets during the process of making instant coffee. Instant coffee also doesn’t have the enticing aroma, the magic that a freshly ground and brewed cup of coffee has.
Instant coffee also doesn’t allow for customisation. With fresh coffee, you can alter the ratios to brew it just how you like it. It’s your coffee. It’s brewed specially for you, perfect for your taste. There’s just not an option to do that with instant coffee. Ever wondered why the “chai” your “Ammi” or “Phuphi” makes, always turns out so amazing?! Or why “driver chai” at “dhaabas” cannot be compared to any other teas in the world? Well, they all have their own tweaks and adjustments to get it “just right”.
With fresh coffee, you acquire the power to create YOUR cup of coffee. Now of course, all that comes with time and practice, so don't get too carried away.
One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
Most instant coffee is made from Robusta beans, which are trademarked by a more bitter taste and aftertaste than the more common Arabica beans which are used in most fresh grinds. Plus, instant coffee is a concentrate which contributes to bitterness. While everybody has their own taste, many find that they need to add more milk and sugar to their coffee with instant than with fresh. While this alone poses a health risk, it also degrades whatever decent flavour there was left in a cup of instant coffee.
Every coffee bean, including the inferior Robusta beans, has its own unique notes and hints of flavours. When you add sugar, not only do you mask those unique flavours, but you actually degrade them. You can’t taste them anymore. This carries on further by impacting your taste potential overall. If you mask an opportunity to taste fine, faint notes of flavours and scents, you’re cutting down your body’s ability to develop a refined palette for anything. Ergo, if you’re enjoying instant coffee, it’s likely that you’ve simply ruined your taste buds. Kidding! Kind of. This is also true for any coffee brew, and even includes teas. Skip the sugar! You’ll be thankful later.
I get it. Learning to make coffee and adopting those extra steps every morning seems like a hassle. But life is far too short to skip out on the things in life that bring true pleasure. Make a delicious cup of coffee a priority in the morning and you’re telling the world that you deserve it, that you put yourself as a priority. You deserve that treat. Everybody does!
What do I need, to brew the perfect cup of coffee, everyday?
Ideally coffee should be consumed within the first two weeks of its roast date. The coffee is at its “peak” or “prime” within this timeframe. Since it is very hard to find coffee that is so fresh in Pakistan, try to look for the freshest pack you can find. A sealed pack of coffee typically has a shelf life of 1 year, some even say 2 years, but honestly speaking, coffee after around 3-4 months or 6 months if you want to stretch it, really starts to lose its aroma, flavours and notes.
Tip: Always check the roast / production date of the coffee before buying. ALWAYS!
Just like everything else, you need time, patience and a lot of practice to get the perfect cup, every time.
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