Barista Abroad: The Case for Instant Coffee

Much to the dismay of baristas everywhere (including myself), let’s talk about a rather hot topic in the coffee world: instant coffee.

As a trained barista and an avid coffee lover, my opinions on instant coffee could be seen as sacrilege. But, as a coffee-lover that travels to countries that don’t have a booming third-wave scene, I feel like I must object.

The issue with instant

Aside from having a flavor that’s a shadow of its true self, most instant coffee brands have an ethical issue attached. While the coffee industry as a whole still has some ways to go, instant coffee, in particular, carries a particular pickle.

Some of the best things about instant coffee are that it’s cheap and it’s easy. Unfortunately, that itself comes at a cost — the production line. Since instant coffee is so cheap, that could only mean that manufacturers seek the most cost-effective way to produce it. 

Like most other “affordable” coffees on the market, they’re more than likely to come from unethical sources regardless of product. These tend not to have strict measures to ensure that the supply chain gets their dues — from the farm to the individual farmers.

The case for instant coffee

As a digital nomad, I’ve found that the availability of coffee equipment or cafés (much less a good one) to be quite tricky. And nowadays, with airlines becoming more restrictive with luggage limits, packing equipment doesn’t seem feasible when one may not be sure that they’d be able to find a decent bag of beans in the first place. 

That means that, in certain places, the only option I have for my daily dose of caffeine is instant. But in no way am I going to ruin my day with an average cup of coffee, no matter how desperate I may be.

However, the instant coffee industry isn’t all doom and gloom. I can still enjoy a good morning cuppa without compromising flavor or ethics.

Instant isn’t all bad

Despite all the faults, there are a few good independent eggs out there to change things. Companies like Dodo Café in Mauritius or Little’s in the UK put ethics at the forefront.

Although instant coffees aren’t the main selling points of these companies, their ethos still remains the same — obtain ethically sourced coffee above all. 

But, more importantly, companies like these are still making their instant coffees accessible to a larger market, all while ensuring the drinker is able to enjoy great-tasting coffee. 

While instant coffee will never be up to the standard of a cheeky Bialetti brew or pour-over, sometimes one needs to take what they can get. Quick and easy way to always get a good cuppa in the morning without the ethical issues? Count me in!

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