serious Kape

Instant Coffee, is it Kape?

#shareyourkape #sykinstantcoffee

Of course it’s coffee, coffee beans were brewed with hot coffee and then processed (by processed I mean it was dried) eventually leading to the powder/granules we all know. Therefore, that popular instant coffee company’s tag line a while back that there’s were made from “real coffee beans”? That’s a load of crap.

But considering it as actual Kape goes deeper than that. Three levels deep in fact:

  • How much caffeine is in it? (which we’ll be discussing here)
  • What does it do for the coffee production industry?
  • And of course, does it taste like Kape?

So just how much caffeine is in Instant Coffee?

This may surprise some of you, but there is, in fact, caffeine in instant coffee, albeit less than in brewed coffee. There is an average of 93 mg in an 8-ounce serving of instant coffee compared to an average of 133 mg (Source: Livestrong). Note, though, that this is the just talking about instant coffee on its own. It’s a different case for that 3-in-1 that’s so popular for us Filipinos. More on that later.

Instant coffee does still provide you that stimulatory shot to get you up and going. The difference from brewed coffee, you probably won’t even feel.

On a quick side-note, ever wonder which has more caffeine: Drip Coffee or a shot of Espresso? Even though it won’t be an apples-to-apples comparison, you’d be surprised of the answer!

Instant Coffee and your health

#shareyourkape #instantcoffeeisitKape

How #KapeisLife looks like for most Filipinos

On the surface, instant coffee is actually a better choice, health-wise, for someone who needs to cut back on caffeine, but still craves for the taste of coffee. Oh, and don’t forget the decaf option!

It’s also debatable if instant also contains the health benefits of regular, brewed coffee. There’s this helpful article from Healthline about these benefits but with caveats of “it’s important to keep in mind that many of these studies were observational in nature” and “These types of studies cannot prove that coffee causes the reduction in disease risk, only that people who habitually drink coffee are less likely to get them”.

Speaking of health, however, according to a 2013 study conducted by the National Center of Biotechnology Information (NCBI), Acrylamide levels for instant coffee was 358 microg/kg while it was 179 microg/kg. Converting that to how much is contained in a standard sized cup of coffee is beyond me so I won’t even try. The point is, instant coffee contains more of that harmful chemical than brewed coffee.

This is the first time I am learning about Acrylamide as well so hop on this journey with me.

Acrylamide, though, is not considered hazardous to humans at moderate doses, but people who have been exposed to high levels have developed central nervous system disorders (source: AuthorityDiet). For us coffee addicts lovers, how at risk are we? Authority Diet estimates you’ll need to drink “404 cups or 64 liters of roasted brew in a day to reach carcinogenic levels”. Unless you’re that person, it’s still all good. According to the same source, we’re all exposed to it anyway sans coffee. But if you are that person who drinks 404 cups of coffee a day, hit me up! Would like to meet a legend.

I cannot stress this enough though, that’s just for instant coffee not necessarily for 3-in-1.

About this 3-in-1 you keep mentioning

That’s coffee (instant), creamer, and sugar, all conveniently packed in one tiny package. Not only does it save you time from needing to brew coffee, you also do not need to add milk and sugar to it! Welcome to the future!

This is the coffee most Filipinos are accustomed to. I did a quick peek at the hashtag #kapeislife and there were a smattering of their 3-in-1 grams, including a whole drawer full of the stuff. Heck, my own boss proudly told me in a conversation, back when we first worked with each other, that she “cannot live without it” when I told her I’m married to I love kape. This, while pouring the contents of a 3-in-1 sachet into her office tumbler.

#shareyourkape #instantcoffeechronicles

Now accepting bookings to draw for your toodler’s homework

For a little sachet of 3-in-1, how much caffeine is in them? Judging from taste alone, I wouldn’t say a lot. In my opinion, it’s sugar with creamer and a hint of coffee. But it’s actually more complex than that.

I’m sure everyone, if you watch even a short amount of TV, have seen the commercial for a 3-in-1 (okay coffee mix) that’s supposed to be enough to fill your big mug? I was curious and bought a sachet. Out of all its ingredients (judging from the list, this should be 20-in-1. It has Silicon Dioxide – Dude, Google that!), the oddest one for me though was “Coffee flavor”.  When the company finds a need to add “Coffee flavor” to what’s understood as a coffee drink, you need to question “just how much coffee is in this thing?!”.

As for the caffeine content, it says there’s instant coffee, but you can barely discern which is which in the mass of granules before adding water.

Sadly it’s these types of drinks that make coffee appreciation for most Filipinos difficult. They cannot stand the taste of coffee alone and associate copious amounts of creamer and sugar to constitute it as “Kape”. And since the Philippines is a third world country, specialty/third wave coffee is a concept most associate with the elite. There are plenty more they can use that money for and would rather stick with their 10 pesos worth of 3-in-1 sachet.

Verdict for level 1: It is Kape, when you talk about caffeine content, but it is so much lamer. And I don’t think there’s enough in that 3-in-1. Why? Read part 2!

This is part 1 of a 3-part series. Next up: Instant Coffee and the Coffee production industry (spoiler alert: it’s bad).

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