Like many people, my thirties have been a journey of embracing things I rejected in my youth: living in the suburbs, driving a van, wearing cargo shorts. The motivations on this journey are a mixed bag. I grudgingly settled on a Honda Odyssey because my life would be impossible without a car that seats my entire family. Conversely, I discovered that I genuinely love Buffalo wings, which I previously rejected as “lame.” My twenty-year-old self cared if a food was in vogue but my thirty year old self could not care less, and I am better off for it.
There is one special case that is different from the others, and it is undoubtedly my most important mid-thirties discovery: instant coffee. My re-discovery of instant coffee is unique for me because I’m not settling for it and I’m also not reconsidering it as my tastes have changed. My tastes for amazing coffee have remained consistent, but instant coffee has become something entirely new. The instant coffee I’ve recently fallen in love with is not like the Folger’s crystals I’ve rejected my entire life, it is a new breed of instant coffee that is legitimately good. It’s made with better coffee and goes through a process that preserves more flavor. This is instant coffee that I drink on a daily basis even when I have top-shelf whole bean available in my house.
Here’s what I love about it:
- Flavor. Honestly just very delicious coffee, full stop. New-wave instant coffee does not taste identical to a brewed version of the same bean, and I am totally fine with that. Espresso doesn’t taste like brewed coffee either, even when diluted to the same concentration. To me, instant is a brew method just like any other and it puts its own “spin” on any coffee that goes through the process. I find that the instantizing imparts a characteristic flavor of chocolate and unrefined sugar. I find the flavor delightful and don’t think that it obscures the uniqueness of the coffee itself.
- Convenience. Hard to overstate this. When I have this instant on hand I drink like 8 cups of it per day because nothing is stopping me from making a cup. I like my coffee relatively cool (~140 degrees) so I make mine with hot tap water and it take about 10 seconds. It is also awesome for special circumstances; obviously camping but also silently making coffee when kids are napping.
- Brewing Possibilities. I believe this is an under-appreciated element. Messing up a pourover or espresso is so easy, but it is virtually impossible to mess up a cup of instant. The ease of dialing in the concentration of this coffee is great but it can also be used to make iced lattes or integrated into a smoothie. So, quite the opposite of a step-down from “real coffee,” I see this instant coffee as a new brew method that opens up possibilities for how coffee can be used.
I am fully sold on this. I’ve been drinking Good Folks’ Instant since the test batches and have never grown tired of it. I love sharing some with an uninitiated friend and seeing the realization on their face when they first taste it. I see a whole world where instant coffee is de-stigmatized and good coffee becomes accessible in new places. Every hotel, every office can have great coffee now. I think there can and will be entire coffee shops with no brewing equipment—just hot water and instant coffee and all of the possibility in the world.