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What Exactly is Spray Dried Coffee?

Updated on February 2, 2010

When it comes to choosing an instant coffee, many brands use the preparation of spray dried coffee. The other options available are freeze dried coffee and liquid, and they provide you with a convenient opportunity to make a literally instant cup of Joe if you are in a time crunch or don't want to mess with a lengthy preparation and brewing process.

To begin, many of the coffee beans that are used for instant coffee are a lesser quality than gourmet roasted coffee beans. This is because many of the natural flavors of the coffee beans are lost in the method of production for instant coffee, so it is better to use cheaper and less premium varieties of coffee beans. Spray dried coffee is prepared when large quantities of coffee are brewed in industrial brewers. The coffee is brewed in a traditional method with fresh coffee grounds extracted in hot water in a commercial setting. This is something that can be done with a commercial percolator or traditional drip brew method.

From there, the coffee product is formed, and then it is made into concentrate through evaporation. This is a process that removes some of the aromas from the coffee itself so that it can be stored as an instant product. In this first step, the evaporation will create a coffee liquid that needs to be spray dried to complete the product. To spray dry the coffee, the coffee liquid will be placed in a spray drying tower so that it can be turned into a powder. This is done through the use of an atomizer that breaks the coffee concentrate into small droplets. These droplets of coffee will immediately lose their water content when they come into contact with the gases used for drying. The coffee particles will be suspended in the air as they dry, and they will be separated through a centrifugal force.

From there, the powder coffee product is often too fine to be used right away. It needs to go through another process of agglomeration, which makes it possible to be used as instant coffee. All of the fine powder particles of coffee will be processed into larger particles through rehydration, which creates an easier product for commercial instant coffee for home use.

Many coffee experts do not prefer the use of spray dried coffee to freeze dried coffee because it takes the coffee product to a very high temperature, which often affects the taste of the final product. However, you may often find that spray dried instant coffee is cheaper than purchasing a freeze dried product because the cost of production is much less expensive overall. If you are interested in trying a quality instant coffee product, you may want to start with freeze dried since it uses a more accurate method of production instead of spray drying the coffee to remove the coffee particles from the liquid. Either way, instant coffee provides a quick and convenient method for your daily cup of Joe!

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