Instant coffee has many fine qualities. Many folks prefer the distinctive, bold flavor, it lasts forever, it is portable, and, of course, quick. So an instant coffee drinker’s nightmare comes true one morning, when they see they are out of their tasty freeze-dried java.
All is not lost, you have an emergency stash of ground coffee, but the coffee machine is broken. Can you use ground coffee as instant coffee? The quick answer is yes. From a safety standpoint, it’s perfectly fine. It’s not poisonous and won’t make you sick. Beyond that, it’s really a matter of taste.
Instant coffee beans are processed and finely ground to be water-soluble. It doesn’t need heat to brew and get its flavor. Ground coffee, on the other hand, is 70% non soluble, so you’ll end up with many grounds in your cup if you try to use ground coffee as instant coffee.
This is enough to send some self-proclaimed coffee connoisseurs over the edge and tell everyone they should never try switching up the instant for ground.
In the grand scheme of things, coffee filters are relatively new. Historically, ground coffee has been boiled right in the water. The oldest form of brewing is called the Ibrik method. It originated in Turkey, during the 1600s.
The brew technique involved using a small metal pot with a long handle. In the pot, the coffee grounds, sugar, spices, and water were heated and cooled several times before serving. It was allowed to sit long enough to allow the undiluted ground to sink to the bottom.
Later on, as coffee became more popular throughout Europe, coffee was made in a similar fashion. Water was heated with the grounds. Just before boiling, the coffee was taken off the heat and poured from the sharp, pointy spout that helped filter the grounds.
This process of boiling the grounds in with water continued when North American settlers were settling the West. It took on the name “Cowboy Coffee”.
Basically, everyone used coffee grounds and water until the coffee filter and instant coffee were invented.
Who Invented The Coffee Filter?
Not everyone was happy with the grounds that floated around their coffee, but what was a coffee lover to do? Well, in 1908, a German housewife decided she was going to find a solution. Melitta Bentz, wanted a cleaner cup of coffee. So, she began experimenting in her small, Dresden apartment.
She first tried straining the coffee through a DIY brass cup that she poked holes through. When that invention failed, she looked around her house for something else.
Melitta spotted her son’s notebook and tore out a few pages. She made a cone out of it and strained the coffee again. It worked! Not only did it catch the grounds, it made the coffee less bitter.
Being the smart woman she was, Melitta ran right out and patented her filter. Then she shared it with various companies, all of whom jumped at the chance to refine and sell her product.
If her name sounds familiar, there’s good reason. Melitta coffee filters, the originator, remains one of the best coffee filters on the market over 100 years later. The company is still owned by Melitta’s family.
The Melitta coffee company has expanded over the years to include delicious ground and whole bean coffee, coffee machines, grinders, and ironically, instant coffee.
How Did Instant Coffee Come To Be?
Instant coffee has been around in some form since the Revolutionary War, though the results were disastrous. During the Civil War, soldiers were given packets of pulverized coffee, powdered milk, and sugar.
Called “Essence of Coffee”, the soldiers only had to mix the packet with hot water. It was said to have tasted awful and was later compared to axle grease.
Over the years, many people have claimed to have invented the ready-made beverage. However, the patent holder is David Strang from New Zealand. In 1890, he developed the dry-hot air process that stripped the ground coffee of all its water.
Over the years, it’s been refined by many people and made into the palatable drink it is today.
How Do You Make A Cup Of Instant Coffee Using Ground Coffee?
Whether you’re out of instant, the machine is broken, or you’re out of Miss Melitta’s filters, here’s a step by step to making your own cup of instant coffee with ground coffee.
1. Boil 1 cup of water in a kettle or pot.
2. Let it cool for about 30 seconds.
3. Pour it over 2 tablespoons of grounds.
4. Stir well and let sit for about a minute before drinking. Most of the grounds will have sunk to the bottom. If it’s still too grainy for you, strain the coffee through a paper towel.
Can You Turn Ground Coffee Into “Instant” Coffee?
While this trick will not magically turn your ground coffee into freeze-dried granules, it will make the grounds fine and powdery enough to dissolve in hot water. It’s also not instant in the sense that it will be done quickly. So it’s recommended that you do this ahead of time and keep it in an airtight container.
You will need a bladed coffee grinder or a blender. Take a few scoops of ground and grind it up until you have some powder. Strain it through a sifter, over a container, then grind whatever is left. Now you’ll have your own homemade “instant” coffee on hand in case of an emergency.