Instant Coffee Vs Espresso Powder – Know The Differences

As a coffee lover, I have always preferred instant coffee over espresso. I feel I get that instant kick to shrug off my tiredness. However, I had no idea about the different forms of coffee – instant coffee, espresso powder, cappuccino or even coffee shots.

Caffeine has always been known to have harmful effects, but can you really ignore the aroma of freshly made hot coffee? Not really.

My quest to learn about the differences in coffee variants led me to a lot of articles. Surprisingly, I found how the difference in the brewing process could change the look and taste of the same coffee beans.

Here, I have tried to put down a few basic pointers regarding the difference between instant coffee and espresso powder. I hope you too will enjoy reading.

What Is Instant Coffee?

It is a beverage prepared from drying coffee extracts. It is called instant coffee because you just need to add water or milk to the powder. You stir the solution and there you go!

For those who do not know, instant coffee is made by dry roasting coffee beans first. These beans are then ground into a fine powder and brewed. The powder is soluble both in water and milk.

Few believe that instant coffee is not real coffee. This, however, is a myth. Coffee makers use real coffee beans to roast and brew. The flavor and aroma is extracted by pressurized heated water. The extract is then concentrated using the spray drying or the freeze drying method.

Are Drinking Instant Coffees Healthy?

A dash of caffeine definitely does no harm once in a while. Overdose of anything is bad – and so is brewed coffee. So, drink as much as you enjoy – just don’t overdo it. Doctors always prefer tea over coffee. However, they also say that if the intake of caffeine content could be limited, then you can enjoy a long healthy life – with your steaming coffee mug.

Just a Few Tips

What Is Instant Espresso Powder?

The first thing that comes to mind is whether espresso powder is the same as instant coffee. Espresso is ground and brewed, and dehydrated to the form of granules. It is rich, dark roast coffee. It is considered to be a baker’s deepest darkest secret.

Instant espresso is readily soluble for easy mixing.

Espresso has a deep and complex flavor which is more chocolaty. It is mainly used in Italian desserts like Tiramisu, chocolate desserts and iced and whipped coffee drinks.

Types of Beans for Instant Coffee and Espresso Powder

Coffee beans can be categorized into four types – Arabica, Robusta, Excelsa and Liberica. Each of these have features unique to them. Let’s check out what type of beans are used for instant coffee and espresso powder.

Instant coffee: Usually Robusta beans are used for making instant coffee.

Espresso powder : Espresso powder also uses 100% Arabica. In some cases coffee makers blend Arabica coffee beans with Robusta beans in a 9:1 ratio. That is, they use 90% Arabica and 10% Robusta beans. The only difference is that the beans are brewed for a longer period than instant coffee. These beans belong to the dark roast category. Espresso powder has a slightly stronger taste than instant coffee.

Liberica beans are known to possess a smoky taste. People who have had coffee made from Liberica beans say that the coffee does not taste like coffee at all. It tastes ‘woody’. Thus, it does not qualify for mass consumption.

Lastly, Excelsa beans bear similarity to Robusta beans. These are hugely used in coffee blends, giving an extra boost of flavor to the coffee. Seasoned coffee tasters state that this complex flavor affects the middle and back palate. For normal coffee-heads like me, I would like to stick to the age-old instant coffee.

Instant Coffee vs. Espresso Powder – Basic Differences

There are quite a few differences between instant coffee and espresso powder. These could be explained under the following points.

How and Where Instant Coffee Granules and Espresso Powder Are Used

As mentioned earlier, both instant coffee granules and espresso powder are prepared in the same manner. The only difference is, you can use instant coffee powder as a regular drink, but not espresso powder.

Both the powders are water soluble. In the case of instant coffee powder, you can add one teaspoon to 8 ounces of hot water or milk. For espresso powder, half teaspoon is enough; since it is stronger.

You will find people drinking instant coffee all around the world, according to their food habits. This is the most convenient type of coffee available. You can make it almost everywhere – at home, in the office, in metro rails, buses, while trekking, camping or during other outdoor activities. All you need is hot water/ milk.

What Are The Disadvantages of Instant Espresso Powder

Instant espresso powder is not that convenient to use. It is not a good substitute to instant coffee powder. I, personally do not recommend drinking instant espresso coffee. It has a different purpose. This powder is usually used by bakers to enhance the flavors of their chocolate-based dessert.

Are Instant Coffee and Instant espresso Powder the Same?

No. They are not the same. Although Instant coffee and espresso powder are derived in the same manner, the two are quite dissimilar both in their tastes and their uses. The coffee beans for espresso powder are brewed for a longer period of time as compared to instant coffee powder.

Apart from these, instant coffee powders have a slightly sweeter taste as compared to espresso coffee powders. Instant espresso powder has a stronger taste. The percentage of Arabica beans are more while making espresso coffee powder, while the number of beans are less in instant coffee  powder.

Final thoughts

Instant brewed coffee and instant espresso powder are different from each other – both in their taste and flavor. Instant coffee is good to go when you are traveling, or need an immediate cup to boost your energy. Espresso powder, unfortunately, does not serve this purpose.

Espresso powder is used to provide a deeper flavor to spice mixes, baked foods and / or beverages. Whereas, instant coffee can be the substitute only when your favorite coffee making option is not available.

Both instant coffee and espresso powder are made out of the same coffee beans – the brewing and the crystallization is all that makes one different from the other.

All said and done, just grab a cup and enjoy!


1.   How long does it take to dehydrate coffee beans to extract coffee powders?

Depending upon the size of the coffee beans, it ideally takes 5 to 7 hours to dehydrate completely. However, coffee makers make sure that the beans have 20% moisture content before taking out of the dehydrator. The crystallization process makes all the difference. That adds the bitter taste.

2.   Can I substitute instant coffee for espresso powder?

Espresso powder is usually used for adding flavor to baked foods and beverages. Since instant coffee powder does not have the same composition, you will not get the desired result if you substitute instant coffee for espresso powder.

3.   How much instant coffee equals espresso?

Two teaspoons of instant coffee equals one teaspoon of espresso powder. Espresso powder is more concentrated. It is double as strong.

4. Which of the two have  better health benefits?

As discussed earlier, the two have completely separate uses. Drinking coffee definitely gives a better feeling and boosts up the energy levels. In the same manner, eating coffee based baked foods or smoothies in a limited amount will also help increasing your energy levels. The glucose in the sweet foods break down to give you that energy.

5. How many grams of espresso should I use?

As per experts’ recommendation, for one shot, you can use 1.5 to 2 teaspoon of powder. That makes it 6-8 grams of ground coffee beans. This is the basic calculation. For more shots, you have to increase the amount accordingly.