Metropolitan Pavilion | October 11 - 13, 2019

The Regeneration of Instant Coffee

The NYCF Team
08 August 2018

Did you know, instant coffee is a thing once more? Listen carefully and you'll hear the third wave barista's mustache bristle. This time it's different, though. This is instant 2.0. 

Initially popularised by Folger's after World War Two, instant coffee harks back to simpler times when convenience came before quality and Hario V60s, syrup-loaded lattes and any notion of 'waves' were non-existent. Instant is a thing of the pre-internet, pre-Instagram age. Or so it was. 

With new launches from searingly cool brands like Voilà, Parlor and Joe Coffee Company amongst others, specialty instant coffee is becoming trendy anew. Forget the bitter taste of bygone times; stir these grounds into your mug and the flavour will make your day.

So, it's a thing, but is specialty instant coffee actually becoming a movement? Yes, says Jonathan Rubinstein of Joe Coffee Company. 

"It's just in its beginnings," he says, "and will grow with even more public awareness. Ultimately, I see specialty instant coffee as a new category, and it will be embraced because of its high quality and many uses. This is something with national appeal."


Quality from Farm to Cup
Specialty coffee is cheifly about responsible sourcing and top grade quality, which results in an exceptional tasting experience and socially ethical consumption. It's no surprise, then, that some incredible US roasters have put their heads together to produce instant offerings that reflect the same values as the best pour over in town. 

These instant coffees are single origins, sourced from special microlots and roasted by serious specialists before being freeze-dried to last. "There is just one ingredient in instant: roasted coffee," says Rubinstein, "so all that is needed is excellent, well-roasted beans to make the product superior." You can literally trace your one-minute cup back to its farm of origin. Not the instant of yore. 

Joe Coffee Company's recently-launched sachets are craft-prepared takes on their best seasonal roasts, like La Familia Guarnizo - a collective of six farms operating in Huila, Colombia in the eastern slopes of the Central Cordillera in the Andes Mountains - which offers notes of apple and praline. Joe has also launched The Daily Blend, a consistent high quality blend at $18 for six servings. 

Sourced from Colombia’s remote Huila department and Puno in southern Peru, boutique roaster Parlor offers its instant in an amber jar that's as aesthetically on point as its taste.  "Each batch begins with high-quality, seasonally sourced beans roasted to highlight the natural characteristics of the fruit’s origin," says AJ Walzer of Parlor. "After the coffee is brewed to a flavorful concentrate and dehydrated, the resulting coffee solubles are preserved, ready to enjoy with hot or cold water." At $30 for 15 cups, the coffee has notes of caramel, toffee and bittersweet cocoa.

Voilà hit the market just last year. The new company specialises exclusively in instant coffee, with an extensive selection including a sell-out Ethiopian Guji Natural, Ecuadoran Hacienda La Papaya, and a special Discovery Box, each at $16.00 for five cups. These come in cigarette-style boxes containing beautifully designed sachets that belong on Instagram.

Specialty Coffee Anywhere, Anytime
Let's be frank - we're all busy. You'd be forgiven for eschewing the fuss of scales, equipment and optimum brewing times at the break of dawn. Speed, efficiency and ease are premium currency in 2018, and if you can acheive these without sacraficing on quality, you're onto a winner. 

Lucky for us, instant specialty coffee brings with it the answer.  "We love that it's inclusive by nature, accessible for specialty coffee aficionados and rookies alike," says Walzer. Sitting at two to three dollars per cup, it's more affordable than swinging by your local in the morning. All you need is water, a mug, and a minute and the specialty experience is all yours for the taking.

"I have used our specialty instant coffee at airports, in planes and cars, whilst camping, on a cruise and inside an amusement park," says Rubinstein. "That's all within the last three months!" As goes the motto for his new range, we can now literally make specialty coffee in a New York Minute.

Joe Coffee Company and Parlor will both be at The New York Coffee Festival, where you can find out more about their new instant ranges. 



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