Is Espresso Powder the Same As Instant Coffee?

Author: Val Hue of The Coffee Guru

I think its safe to say that we’ve all come across a wide array of powdered coffee products at our local grocery store. Whether it’s instant coffee or powdered espresso, grocery stores have an abundance of it. Soluble coffee delivers a great quick fix for any coffee drinker that is on the go or is on a strict budget. We all know how long it can take to brew an excellent cup of coffee, so sometimes a teaspoon of dried soluble coffee is a perfect solution for when you’re pressed for time. Now, you’re probably thinking… so is espresso powder the same as instant coffee? It’s similar, but not the same! Let’s dive into the details below!

What is Instant Coffee?

Instant coffee, also known as powdered coffee, is dehydrated ground coffee made from brewed coffee beans. It is created by a process called freeze-drying or spray drying. It was invented in Britain in 1771 and was referred to as a “coffee compound”. Through time, the invention went through many changes, eventually reaching the “coffee crystal” form in 1910, which was invented by a chemist named George Constant Louis Washington (no, not the President!).

instant coffee

This type of coffee is an extremely convenient way of brewing coffee and can be extremely cost-effective. All you need is water just off a boil and instant coffee granules. The coffee granules instantly dissolve in the water, giving you a cup of coffee within seconds. It’s that simple! Instant coffee is perfect for those individuals that are always on the go and want to prepare their coffee easily during their travels. It also comes in a wide range of various flavours.

What types of coffee beans are used for Instant Coffee?

The majority of instant coffee is made from Robusta coffee beans. Compared to Arabica coffee beans, Robusta beans aren’t as sweet and have a harsher and much more bitter profile with a nutty aftertaste. Robusta coffee beans are a lot easier to grow and produce, making them more affordable than Arabica beans, hence why the majority of the instant coffee companies use them. You may find some shops that carry instant coffee made from Arabica coffee beans though they will be a lot pricier.

How much caffeine is there in Instant Coffee?

A standard dose of Instant coffee packs about 63 milligrams of caffeine in an 8-ounce cup, while a cup of brewed coffee has 95 milligrams. Though instant coffee may taste stronger than brewed coffee, it is a lot weaker in caffeine. Which makes Instant coffee great for people who want to consume more coffee throughout the day and not worry about the side effects of caffeine. It’s also beneficial for people who need to watch their daily caffeine intake.

What is Espresso Powder?

Espresso, as you probably already know is a coffee brewing method that forces pressurized hot water through finely-ground coffee beans to brew an extremely concentrated shot of coffee.

Now when it comes to Espresso Powder, it is made in the same way as instant coffee. Espresso powder is dehydrated ground espresso that is a lot stronger and richer in taste, but surprisingly a lot smoother than instant coffee. It is also a lot more concentrated than Instant Coffee and requires a lot less for a cup of coffee. Espresso powder is perfect for those that like to drink their espresso but don’t own an espresso machine or don’t have the time to attend their local cafe. Though keep in mind, espresso powder isn’t as strong as fresh espresso and is a much weaker version.

espresso powder

Due to the intense bold flavour of Espresso powder many pastry chefs like to use it for baking purposes especially in cakes and brownies since it pairs extremely well with chocolate.

What types of coffee beans are used for Espresso Powder?

The majority of espresso powder is made from Arabica coffee beans. These coffee beans are considered the highest of quality, compared to the common Robusta blends that many instant coffee companies use. Arabica coffee beans are higher in acidity and deliver a sweeter and softer taste profile with fruity notes. This sweetness makes the Arabica Coffea tree more susceptible to insects, resulting in less fruit. Making the crop much more expensive than Robusta.

How much caffeine is there in Espresso Powder?

The caffeine content of a standard dose of Espresso powder is very similar to the amount of a fresh shot of espresso. Espresso powder has about 58 milligrams of caffeine, while an espresso has around 60 milligrams for 1 to 1.5 ounces of coffee.

The Key Differences Between Espresso Powder vs Instant Coffee

So now that you have a great understanding of Espresso Powder and Instant Coffee. Let’s take a look at the main differences between the two.

  • There is more caffeine in Instant coffee than in Espresso Powder.
  • Espresso Powder is a lot less flavourful than fresh espresso and is weaker than Instant Coffee.
  • The majority of Instant Coffee is made with Robusta coffee beans. Compared to Espresso Powder which is made from Arabica coffee beans.
  • Instant coffee is more bitter and a lot harsher than Espresso powder in taste.
  • Espresso Powder is a lot more concentrated than Instant Coffee.
  • Instant coffee comes in a wide variety of flavours compared to Espresso Powder.
  • Espresso Powder is frequently used by pastry chefs and bakers for cakes, brownies and desserts since it works well with chocolate.


While some coffee drinkers shudder from disgust when they think about instant coffee, in reality, it is not as bad as people make it out to be. Instant coffee or Espresso powder is a great alternative to freshly brewed coffee. It’s convenient, quick and requires no clean up. It’s also extremely affordable! In the end, it all comes down to your personal preference in taste. If you like having more of a flavour selection with your brew and prefer something a bit more caffeinated, Instant coffee is definitely for you. If you into espresso and love concentrated coffee that is bold, or you enjoy baking pastries or cakes, then Espresso powder is your choice!

1 thought on “Is Espresso Powder the Same As Instant Coffee?”

  1. Francine N Cowley

    Wow Jennifer, very interesting write up on espresso powder and instant coffee. Thanks for all the info.
    My workhorse coffee maker Remington RSS 600 Spin Brew just stopped working after 3 yrs. I really did prefer it to all the Keurig machines that failed on me. I’ll check out your suggestions for a k-cup replacement coffee maker.

    Great website, love the vibe.

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