We were at a coffee workshop where farmers brought samples of their roasted coffee. One sticker said “instant coffee.” I looked for the farmer who owned this coffee sample and explained to him the difference between instant or soluble and “roast and ground” coffee. To go back to basics, instant means coffee that’s ready to drink because it’s already been brewed and then transformed from liquid to solid through a dehydration process called spray drying.
For roast and ground coffee, however, coffee beans are packed after roasting, or are ground and packed after roasting, and have not yet been brewed or “cooked.” Brewing entails making hot water pass through coffee grounds, and the grind is dependent on the coffee maker to be used. Brewing can also be done through immersion, as with the French press Aeropress, or through the teabag style of serving coffee.
In any case, most of the coffee sold in the market as “roast and ground” need not be brewed using different types of coffee makers.
What are the other information that should be included in your packaging?
Some coffee packaging labels state the coffee variety―Arabica or Robusta or Liberica or a blend.
Today’s coffee roasters also put origins like Benguet, Sulu, Batangas, or Sagada, among other coffee-growing areas. If you like the origin you chose, chances are you will go back to that origin regardless of the roaster or processor, or the brand.
WHOLE BEANS OR GROUND
We recommend buying whole beans and grinding them only before brewing.
Some processors pre-grind the coffee and put the grind size on the label. Most will put “good for all coffee makers,” so it’s hit or miss with regard to the brewed-coffee quality.
Whether you’re the roaster who puts the label or you’re the consumer, take note of what the label tells you. It’s usually a fair description of what to expect. The best test, though, is to finally taste what’s inside.
written by Pacita Juan for The Ultimate Coffee Guide, Vol. XII Iss. 2, 2019