This ‘instant’ classic was first unveiled at the World's Fair in Buffalo, NY this week in 1901.
Coffee is one of the world’s favorite beverages. It is definitely my liquid of choice, with all the invigorating caffeine, great taste, and wonderful-smelling volatile compounds such as 4-(4-hydroxyphenyl)-2-butanone, which gives coffee a sweet, fruity aroma. Organic, fair-trade whole-bean coffee is my preference, but those with less patience may desire long-lasting, easy-to-prepare “instant” soluble formulations.
The Japanese were the first to produce a stable instant coffee product in the early 1900s. During World War II, instant coffee gained fame among American soldiers after Nestlé marketed its Nescafé brand.
The instant beverage was updated in 1963, when Kraft introduced its Maxwell House freeze-dried instant coffee, which the company claimed tastes more similar to fresh-brewed coffee than other instant coffee products. Within a few years, all major manufacturers had freeze-dried coffee products on the market.
All instant coffee production involves roasting coffee beans and then brewing them in hot water. Before the brew can be further processed into instant coffee, oxygen and insoluble particles such as coffee grounds must be removed. After this, the brew is dried by one of two methods to yield instant coffee.
One common way to desiccate the brew is through spray-drying: The coffee is sprayed through a nozzle to produce tiny 300-µm-sized droplets that fall through drying towers until they reach the base as a parched powder. The drying towers are kept at high pressures and temperatures near 270 ºC. The fine coffee powder may be rewetted to produce larger granules that are dried and finally packaged.
Visit “What’s That Stuff” to read more about instant coffee.
Excerpted with permission, Chemical & Engineering News
Copyright © 2008 American Chemical Society