I’ve had instant coffee once. It was from a plastic jar of either Folger’s or Maxwell House that was in my mom’s cupboard. I don’t remember much of it, except that it looked like brown grape nut cereal, and tasted pretty bad. When I thought of instant coffee, I imagined it being used by campers, cowboys, truckers, maybe A.A. groups? It was a form of coffee that gave the bare minimum, with the simplest forms of storing, shipping and brewing it. It was a necessity before, when it was invented in the 1700’s. This no-frills way to drink your coffee was ideal for the people of yesteryear. Any style or sophistication it may have had disappeared as coffee culture evolved. Instant coffee was now being mass-dried and produced with inferior robusto beans. It was safe to say that instant coffee had a bad stigma around it to people who drank “good” coffee.
It’s no wonder why, then, that having worked in the coffee business professionally for almost a decade, that instant coffee was NOT on my radar. Today’s world of third wave coffee drinkers go for the extra steps, costs, and equipment that comes with brewing specialty coffee. We disregard what is simple and fast, as those ways of doing things can’t equal quality product, right?
With time comes change, and instant coffee is changing too. Waka Coffee is putting craft and specialty into making easy, fast coffee. They do things that any good coffee company should, like using single origin, arabica beans, and supporting others while they do it. Four percent of proceeds from Waka Coffee are given to clean water efforts around the globe.
After their beans are dried and roasted, they are shipped to California to be freeze dried. That may sound weird to you, but hear me out. There are two ways to make instant coffee. The cheaper, more common way that most instant coffee is dried is called spray drying. This process works by spraying the coffee through an atomizer or hose in a hot chamber, and collecting the powder that falls to the ground, which is completely dry. This degrades and burns the beans considerably due to the high heat. The freeze-dry process lowers the temperature of the beans until they are VERY cold. Then they are quickly moved to a chamber that raises the heat so that the water evaporates more slowly. This preserves the coffee’s chemicals and flavors.
So you now know that Waka Coffee has a superior bean (arabica over robusto) and drying process over regular old instant coffee. How does it taste, though? How do you make it?
Fastest Coffee Ever
Waka coffee is offered in a small sized box with eight 0.1 oz packets in it. The packets with each serving of coffee is about the size of a sugar packet. Compared to my usual ~20 grams of coffee per cup, I wondered if this little 2.8 gram (!) packet would be enough.
You just add a packet to 8-10 ounces of hot water. I watched the coffee crystals in the bottom of my cup as I splashed some hot water on them. They dissolved instantly. It actually surprised me because I was holding a spoon ready to stir it. The crystals were gone, and in their place were a few ounces of dark coffee coming to life. A light layer of golden coffee bubbles began to form on top. Coffee was mixing with the water and releasing gasses and oils. The coffee was alive and breathing!
I added 8 ounces of water because I like my coffee a little stronger. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the taste is very good! It is a Colombian medium roast. Usually I go for medium-dark or dark roasts for lower acidity. This cup of Waka Coffee’s acidity is not overbearing, however. It has a light, citrusy, well-rounded flavor profile that exceeds many expensive coffee shop drinks I have had. Being a lighter roast, it would be ideal to drink black or with minimal dairy.
I have to confess, I generally don’t prefer hot coffee. I live in New England and I drink an iced americano or iced coffee every day of the year. I wanted to see if Waka Coffee could make an iced coffee that I would drink every day.
In another glass, I added a packet to only two ounces of hot water. This was my “espresso”. I added it to just a few more ounces of iced water and a splash of milk. The total volume for this drink was about 10 ounces (including 3 iced cubes). It was great! I liked it much more than the hot coffee.
Overall, Waka Coffee is a good alternative to add to your regular brewing methods. It was so fast and EASY for me to have a great cup of coffee, I may end up drinking more coffee than I should! The packets can be kept in a purse, suitcase, pocket or luggage to be used whenever you don’t have access to good coffee. It would be a great solution for:
- travelers in airports, or people traveling to areas that don’t have good coffee options.
- people who work in an environment without access to good coffee.
- those who are just BUSY or want a method for making coffee when they are feeling particularly lazy.
My usual way of making my coffee at home costs about $0.60 per cup. The current price of Waka Coffee for the small eight pack box equals out to $1.50 per cup of coffee, but there is a larger 3.5 ounce bag available which is more economical. That slightly higher price is the extra cost of using the specialized, freeze-drying process. It is a more than fair trade-off for what Waka Coffee offers over a traditional brew. That is, getting an instant, delicious cup of coffee easily, wherever you are, with no clean up.
With the rapid state of specialty coffee, and how it’s always evolving, there is always something new to learn about or try. Make instant craft coffee your next venture! If something is fast, easy, and still handled with forethought and care, there should be no misunderstanding or disregard for it.