Sunday, 6 April 2014

Instant Coffee

From the BBC

It's UK coffee week, but despite years of cafe proliferation, instant coffee still dominates at home. Why do the British drink so much more instant than anyone else, asks Denise Winterman.

"It's like orange squash and orange juice, they're both called orange but that's pretty much where the similarities end," says Paul Meikle-Janney, managing director of coffee consultancy, Coffee Community. "Instant coffee and fresh coffee are different products. Each has its own place in the market but that place is narrowing when it comes to instant and that is as it should be."

But instant still accounts for 77% of the coffee Brits buy to drink at home, according to market research specialists Mintel. In Italy it accounts for just 1%, in France 4% and 7% in the US. The UK market for coffee at home is growing and is now worth in excess of £1bn annually. Instant has lost market share recently but still dominates over the likes of ground coffee and beans.

The reason is simple - we generally drink tea, which means that everywhere has kettles. Even in houses that drink coffee, people have kettles because they were raised having a kettle and making instant coffee.

It's the first thing you notice when you enter a house in France, either rented or staying with someone - they don't have a kettle, and no house in the UK would be without one.


Kj said...

But it (instant) tastes like shite. I don't mean slightly bad, I mean it's an insult to offer it to anyone. You can do coffee in a kettle as well, just use coarse ground, chuck it in, let it sink and pour.

Kj said...

btw I think you missed with the link.

The Stigler said...


Ta. Fixed.

I almost entirely drink espresso and filter now, so yeah, I can hardly touch the stuff.

And don't get me started on these ads claiming that they can make instant that fools people. I've tried one of them and it's disgusting.

I have a little in-cup filter mug thing. You put your filter coffee in, add water, let it brew, then you plunge the top of the cup. Works great.

Kj said...

The Bodum-type mug? Yeah they're good as well. For everyday use, which is a lot, I like the filtered cofeemaker stuff. Not as rich but with just the right bitterness.

Kj said...

It's called "work-coffee" here, and your employer is considered a cheapskate if they don't supply it for free without limits.

Pavlov's Cat said...

they don't have a kettle, and no house in the UK would be without one.

OR as in the case of the houses I grew up in 2 kettles , one for emergencies in case the first one broke. Normally a stove top one in case the electric went out at the same time ( hang over from the power cuts of the 70's I think)

My grandmother also had an emergency teapot just in case the first one broke .

Mark Wadsworth said...

I like Nescafe, it doesn't taste like filter coffee because it isn't filter coffee.

It's like saying "Nescafe is horrible because it doesn't taste like tea".

That said proper espresso or cappuccino from a shop with one of those high pressure machines is very nice as well. Stewed filter coffee I can live without.

Dinero said...

In some ways instant coffee is better tasting than fresh. It has less of the "bottom notes" and most of the "top notes". I'm comparing it to jug brewed fresh.
Good instant comes and goes Tchibbo was the best for a while, then they changed it, now it is Azera which contains some ground beans.

The Stigler said...


That said proper espresso or cappuccino from a shop with one of those high pressure machines is very nice as well. Stewed filter coffee I can live without.

I have a Dolce Gusto machine at home that makes really good espresso. You pay about 20p/cup for the capsule, but it's mess-free and makes coffee as good as from a cafe.

Bayard said...

I'd say it's because were either lazy or pushed for time or both. Tea, using a teabag, and instant coffee are are so much less faff than making proper coffee.

DBC Reed said...

Tesco's one cup coffee filters containing good pre-packed coffee cost circa 20p a throw and are slightly less trouble than teabags which can sink and be hard to extract . Oh dear I am disagreeing with Bayard again.

Kj said...

MW: that's a matter of where you started. If Nescafe is considered an actual drink, and not a replacement, ok.
But from a process point of view, instant is just re-processed filter coffee, as it involves brewing the stuff the regular way, and they freeze-/spray drying it.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Kj, I'll tell you what else I like, now I've thought about it.

these things.

A design classic, hasn't changed in fifty years and tastes lovely. Plus it's a bit of excitement when it suddenly gurgles out all over the stove.

Bayard said...

"Oh dear I am disagreeing with Bayard again."

Not really, not being a coffee drinker, I had no idea such things existed. Perhaps if they were marketed more aggressively, they would make a serious dent in instant coffee sales. Mind you I found that tea bags seldom sink these days, unless they are round.

Mark, having had the science of coffee making explained to me by a caffiend at work, I reckon those machines make the best coffee, because they make it with water that is almost, but not quite, boiling.

Kj said...

MW: agreed, brilliant things.

JohnM said...

I'm surprised no one has mentioned coffee makers.

Like many homes we have a device that makes proper coffee. It sits next to the bread maker in the equipment graveyard. 50% of the time we use a plunger jug and the rest it's just instant. When I'm working from home and drink lots of coffee then it's just flavoured warmish water I want to counter thirst.

Mark Wadsworth said...

JM, you are going to have to be more specific, do you mean a boil, drip and stew machine, like the one pictured here?

DBC Reed said...

From a purely aesthetic point of view the Cona syphonic system is the best design.I have one of these but I have been too intimidated by the videos on the Net to use it.

Kj said...

DBC: one of these. I've never seen one of these before I googled them now, brilliant!

DBC Reed said...

KJ No, not one of those! Hardly the best aesthetically !! Try Googling: Cona coffee maker in action.
There are plenty of demonstration videos on how to use them.(Always put me off though;also you get stuck with too much coffee. Another( filter) system I used led me to drinking eight cups of coffee a day.Not good in my state of health and ,after eight cups, state of mind !