Instant Coffee or Steeping Coffee?
Gone are the days of your only instant coffee option being that Nescafe bottle buried in the back of kitchen cupboards that produces a coffee worse than the one in the Jiffy Lube waiting room. Today's instant coffee resembles nothing of the sort, you'll find many craft roasters offering their selection of roasts in convenient coffee sachets waiting for their moment to shine in a cup of hot water. These are excellent choices, if needed, when camping or for anyone who doesn't want to mess with the traditional brewing methods.
But you may notice instant coffee isn't something we offer here at Wild Kind Coffee Co. So if the quality of instant coffees is good these days, why don't we sell it?
The single, most important reason is because what makes our coffee stand out above the rest is that it is roasted to order. You order it, then we roast it. We are proud knowing our coffee is as fresh as it can be when it hits your hands. We would lose this quality if we had to roast it, grind it, and then have it packed into single servings so it can be ready to ship in advance.
Plus, the extra cost and packaging are a couple other reasons why we encourage steeping in reusable tea bags over purchasing instant coffee.
Cost - it's an additional expense to you on top of your regular coffee purchase which doesn't seem necessary when you can use your fresh everyday beans.
Packaging - instant coffee causes more of it. Even though some are offered in eco-friendly packaging there are still resources needed to turn it from trash to something recyclable or compostable (unless you're a backyard composter and we love a good composter!) This is also assuming you are a pack it in, pack it out camper and won't be tempted to toss it into a trashcan.
As an alternative to instant coffee, we recommend steeping your everyday roast.
If you were to google "can I steep coffee like tea" you may find quite a few results saying you can but with unfavorable results. I, myself, was initially deterred in my more coffee novice days.
Then I thought about it and thought some more. If steeping coffee isn't a great way to brew coffee, then why is French pressed coffee so good? It is, after all, steeping coffee before the plunge. And cold brew? Who are these sources I've blindly listened to all those years ago? Shame on me.
With more coffee experience under my belt, my preferred method in situations I'm unable, or don't feel like, lugging a coffee brewing system with me is to scoop a few tablespoons of my favorite coffee into a reusable tea bag. To prepare for a camping or van trip, I'll grind freshly roasted coffee beans a day in advance, I may be camping but I don't need to suffer with store bought beans sitting on the shelf for days, weeks, months. I'll store it in an easily portable but airtight container and to have ready for my mornings. You can find reusable tea bags on Amazon or in some natural foods stores and see below for our favorite coffee steeping recipe.
How to Steep Coffee Like a Professional
- fresh, ideally whole bean coffee, alternatively coarse ground
- grinder - if using whole beans
- measuring spoons and cup
- reusable tea bag
- your favorite mug
- grind coffee as you would for french press
- Measure 2 tablespoons of coffee for every 6 ounces of water and place into your reusable bag - we recommend this method for individual cups, not large servings.
- Meanwhile, heat water until just under boiling, about 205° F, or boil water and remove from heat and let sit for a minute
- Add the hot water to your mug and submerge your coffee bag ensuring the tail of the bag hangs out for easy removal.
- Steep for about 4-5 minutes, make sure to cover your cup for steeping
There is a bit of trial and error to find the perfect ratios, steeping times, and water temperature to suit your taste but this is a good baseline.
- Use best water source available, your coffee is only as good as your water
- With a small spray bottle, mist your beans 4 times before grinding. This helps cut down on the static caused by grinding for a less messy process.
This is just one of many personal opinions because we get it, we know life is demanding enough and sometimes you just don't want to mess with measurements and cleaning and you really just want to dunk and go. Just promise me you'll let that Nescafe bottle to continue to collect dust and support any of our fellow craft roasters offering their specialty grade coffees in convenient instant packs.
In the end, you can steep coffee, whether in your own reusable bag or from the ready to go instant coffees now available. That's the beauty of options, there's usually one to suit everybody and circumstance.