Instant coffee is coffee that was mass brewed then was treated with a host of chemicals to freeze dry it and stick it in your easy-to-use container. The word “chemicals” there sounds ominous however there are no real negative effects currently attributable to those chemicals. The only possible “bad chemical” in instant coffee is a chemical called acrylamide. There is twice as much acrylamide in instant coffee as there is in wholebean. Acrylamide has been linked to cancer in rats; however the same link has not been established in humans.
Pros of instant are obviously speed and ease of use, no messy clean up, and no grinding, etc.
So why wholebean? Well for me, personally, I liken coffee to wine; when you start to get into it you realise there are different flavour profiles associated with different regions, a bit like wine. For me I like South American coffee (in general) with milk and I like African coffees as espresso/brewed coffee. I would liken the African to a sweet citrus fruit and the South American in general to cocoa. Like wine, there is a big difference between the individual vineyards/plantations that grow the beans and the flavours associated with each. The soil, the altitude, how the plants are treated before they are harvested, and the harvesting and drying methods all come together in a way that makes each single origin noticeably different- but this is something we will cover in more detail in the second blog post.
All forms of coffee reduce the ability of your gut to absorb iron. Iron, as we know, is essential for overall health and feeling good. More importantly low Iron leads to Anemia which I myself have suffered from at times, I can attest to how crap it feels. What makes this situation slightly worse is that anyone who suffers from a Vitamin D deficiency (note most Irish people probably border on this during winter months) puts themselves even more at risk from developing Anemia. Anyone who feels weak, has cold hands and feet, stands up with dizziness or light-headedness should definitely go and get their iron levels checked to see if they are Anemic. So where does instant coffee come into this? Well instant coffee and wholebean both reduce iron absorption from your intestines which is bad, however the effect of reduction is 3 times worse in instant coffee vs. wholebean coffee.
So there are some negative consequences associated with drinking instant coffee, but I can live with the risk, I will pop another iron tablet and probably drink enough alcohol to make the liver cancer risk posed by the acrylamide look like a postage stamp on the Empire State building. So why then drink wholebean? For me it all comes down to flavour; if you are someone for whom food isn’t fuel and it’s something to enjoy, then you need wholebean coffee. Coffee shouldn’t be a drink that you have to force down with milk and sugar, masking the burned chemical taste; coffee is a fruit, it should taste like that. Anyone who is reading this who has never had wholebean coffee or has never had well brewed speciality coffee and says “I don’t like coffee”, I would say “no you don’t like the coffee you have tried”. Imagine your first taste of wine was boxed wine? Would you like it? Would you mix it with Sprite and form something palatable just to force it down? Yes to both I am sure, the difference between good wholebean and instant is a similar leap, the equivalent of going from the local chip shop quarter pounder to Kobe Beef in FX Buckleys.
In todays world of Zoom call after Zoom call, a nice break involves cracking out the hand grinder, weighing out my beans, preparing my filter and waiting for the perfect cup. Yes It would be faster and more efficient to use instant, and yes I am under pressure to hit my monthly target (I am in a sales role), but the 5 minute break I take to prepare a brew is usually one of the few times a day where I don’t have my phone to hand, where I take a moment out of the hustle and enjoy something special, something that was years in the making. 5 years to grow the beans, transported across the world, roasted, flown to Ireland, sealed, packaged and opened for the first time by me to enjoy.
Why I drink wholebean coffee is the same reason I like steak and red wine and cheese. The same reason I like to eat in fancy restaurants and go to football matches…..So I can post on Instagram.