INSTANT DARK 11
50% El Salvador Metapan 50% Honduras El Sauce
A note from Jamie Smith, Coffee Manufactory's Director of Coffee -
In the 15 years I’ve been in specialty coffee I never once thought I’d see us embark into the world of instant coffee, a freeze-dried version of coffee that is brought back to life by merely adding hot OR cold H2o, a quick stir, and BAM! You’ve now got a one-way ticket to caffeine town. No one can argue its convenience that is for sure, however, we can argue that historically it’s never really tasted that good-
Did you know that instant coffee has actually been around since the early 1880’s? Yep. How crazy is that? And became very popular in the states during World War II. I imagine when you think of instant coffee, you’re thinking of Nescafe or that weird sludge your grandmother drinks that you wouldn’t drink if someone paid you to. Or maybe you will out of curiosity? Maybe you love coffee sludge? Zero judgements from us. You do you. Regardless, there has never been much weight put into the craft of it all or attention to quality. For years the specialty coffee industry avoided instant coffee like the plague, detouring in a direction far far away from its swiftly brewed cousins, gripping tightly to 18:1 ratios and calculated slow pours. Here’s the thing though- 50% of the worlds green coffee is produced for instant coffee! That is a lot of folks who favor convenience over more traditional brewing methods.
Admittedly, I wasn’t always aboard the instant coffee train but the closer I’ve inched towards the beginning of the supply chain, my perspective has drastically changed. Not to mention, in early 2019 I spent a week volunteering in Yosemite National Park and having a cup of quickly brewed instant coffee (that tastes good!) at the top of Sentential Dome, after getting your butt kicked by endless switchbacks at 4 am, is pretty damn cool. Additionally, I believe it’s important to remember that there are all types of coffee drinkers in this world and if I can make a bigger impact in a coffee producing community by purchasing green for instant coffee, I’m here for it! With quality in mind of course. The industry is changing, consumers are changing, and truthfully, I believe it to be for the better. Opening specialty coffee markets up to a broader customer base who, now have access to coffee they normally wouldn’t go for, is awesome.
Luckily for us, there are several amazing companies on the forefront of the soluble coffee movement, and we know this because we’ve tried all of them. Quality controlled from top to bottom. We’ve tried them with lukewarm water, cold water, boiling water. We left packages open and tried them again. Stirred. Didn’t stir. Made them outside (on a mountain top), in our kitchens, and even once in a moving car! You name it, we probably tried it! Honestly, soluble coffee has come a long way over the last couple of years in terms of quality and needless to say we were nothing short of impressed.
Anyhow, in early 2019 when we began to approach this conversation, we had 3 key things in mind: 1.) How do we uphold quality but still ultimately achieve convenience? 2.) How do we best represent our coffee and the producers we work with 3.) Partner with a company who approaches their product with similar intention. Through much consideration we’ve found that in our partners at Swift Cup. Swift cup was established in 2016 by Nate Kaiser, a specialty coffee veteran who understands that; the nuances we find and love in our slow pours can be found in an instant- if you do it right.
I guess to really understand why we decided to work with Swift you’ve got to understand was instant coffee actually is; Instant coffee or soluble coffee is coffee that has been processed into fully soluble crystals or powder. This is often achieved through using water and high pressure/temperatures to extract coffee’s soluble components and turn them into a liquid concentrate. The concentrate is then freeze-dried or spray-dried to remove as much moisture as possible. In the end, this process produces a dry ‘coffee powder’ that can be rehydrated and consumed when coupled with water or even your favorite milk! However, the process varies from company to company, just like roasters have proprietary roast profiles, instant coffee makers have proprietary methods.
Across the board, the biggest issue we found with most instant coffee companies was an overall strong processed or inauthentic flavor. Which, I wouldn’t say the coffee was objectively bad, they just didn’t accurately represent the coffee in its true, freshly brewed form. Basically, the sentiment I am dancing around is - they all tasted the same. And yes, I know hoping that it was an exact replica might be shooting for the moon but hey! a girl can dream! Convivence does come at a price. However, with that being said, when we began product testing with Swift we were all pleasantly surprised at the flavor retention- it actually tasted like our 11 blend! All the intention that goes into building our blends, roasting, and buying shines through and that my friends is what’s up. Swift Cup has absolutely set a new precedent for what is possible in the realm of soluble coffee and we are thrilled to be working with them!