Explained: Instant Coffee vs Specialty Coffee

Apologies if the title doesn’t include the regular coffees available in a cafe, the title DID NOT look cool with it. As promised in the introductory article, we’ll be breaking down the truths and the myths surrounding:

  1. Instant coffee

  2. Regular coffee in a cafe

  3. Specialty coffee

In a nutshell, what’s the best among them?

(Skip the article for the conclusion at the end of the page)

To give you a ONE word answer, Specialty Coffee is the BEST. But what makes it so special? Let’s start with the origin of coffees in a farm.

Where does coffee come from?

Coffee beans start as the seeds of a fruit, it’s essentially the seeds of a berry. The ripe cherries are picked and stripped off leaving us with the seeds, after which we do a lot of magical processes to the seeds (which we’re leaving for a future date to make the introduction easier). The result is Green Coffee Seeds (or Beans), the characteristics of which are defined by:

  1. The farm where it was grown (each one is unique)

  2. The Magical Processes which we will discuss very soon.

In a nutshell, we’re left with Single-Origin green coffee beans. What next?

(explaining specialty coffee)

  • The green beans are heated in a rotating drum (called a roaster). The green beans absorb the heat from the surroundings and develop the characteristic brown color.

  • What we now have are single-origin coffee beans ready to be consumed. Every time you drink this cup of coffee, you’ll know exactly which farm you’re supporting, which lives have you impacted directly.

  • The farms ensure that nothing but the best processes go in the development of these coffee beans, resulting in an amazing tasting cup of coffee. The profile of coffees are evaluated and scored.

  • Scores of 80+ out of 100 are graded as Specialty Coffee.

  • Specialty coffee is usually consumed within 14 days of roasting to ensure you get the best flavor profiles. After that, coffees start to lose the profiles.

What if the coffees are not from a single origin?

(explaining your regular coffee in a cafe)

  • Since we’re smart enough to understand now what effect origin has on coffee, it’s safe to say that the profiles of coffees from different farms are naturally different.

  • These beans, although of the same variety, develop differently when roasted. This compromises the inherent flavor of the beans.

  • The farms are never highlighted when you drink this coffee, so you’ll never know what farmers are you supporting, or whether they get a good value for their beans.

  • These coffees stay on the shelf for months together, which means they’ve lost most of the flavor that they possessed. What’s left is a generic flat tasting coffee.

  • Ever thought why do cafes glorify the use of syrups? That is because the coffees are not good enough to give them a natural flavor, which a specialty coffee would.

What if we artificially preserve the coffees as powder?

(explaining Instant Coffee)

  • Multiple origin beans are cooked down into an extract, chilled to -5 degree Celsius till it becomes a coffee slushy. This causes the coffee to break down into granules, which are sent to a drying vacuum. What’s left behind is the Instant Coffee Powder.

  • This usually bitter tasting powder, is neither ethical, as it doesn’t support the farmers nor does it taste well. It definitely isn’t healthy as well.

  • Coming from an average Indian household, we were bought up on your regular instant coffee brands. Yes, there is an association with the typical smell of these coffees for all of us. But that is no ground for us to support something which is neither healthy, ethical nor does it taste well.

Naughty Beans, all of this was so confusing. Please summarize it.

  • Specialty coffee is the equivalent to Single Malt Scotch (e.g. The Macallan)

  • Regular cafe coffee is the equivalent of a Blended Whiskey (e.g. JW Red Label)

  • Instant coffee is the equivalent of a Breezer (just kidding but you know what we feel about Instant coffees).


For someone who’s refined in every sphere of life, would you drink The Macallan or a Breezer (reference in the paragraph above)? You decide.

How do we start with Specialty Coffee?

The next article is dedicated to help you start with Specialty coffee.

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