Asian Instant Coffee: Exploring the Aromatic World of Convenience

May 16, 2023 • Amélie Bigras

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Coffee has become a ubiquitous beverage around the globe, with instant coffee being a popular choice for its convenience. However, a unique category within the instant coffee realm has been gaining significant attention: Asian instant coffee. In this blog, we delve into the flavors, culture, and innovation behind Asian instant coffee, which sets it apart from its counterparts.

Asian instant coffee in a bowl

History and Culture of Asian Coffee Consumption

Coffee has a rich history in Asia, dating back centuries. While tea has traditionally been the dominant hot beverage in many Asian countries, coffee has become a beloved beverage. In countries like Japan, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam, coffee has become deeply ingrained in the culture, and there are unique rituals and customs associated with its consumption. Asian coffee culture is a beautiful blend of tradition and innovation.

In Japan, the tea ceremony-inspired "siphon" brewing method is popular, where coffee is brewed in a glass siphon apparatus. South Korea has the "dalgona" trend, a whipped coffee served over milk. In Thailand, "Oliang" is a traditional iced coffee made with a blend of coffee, soybeans, corn, and other ingredients. Vietnam is known for "ca phe sua da," a strong iced coffee served with condensed milk.

The Making of Asian Instant Coffee

Asian instant coffee is crafted with meticulous attention to detail. The manufacturing process involves various steps, including roasting, grinding, and freeze-drying the coffee beans to preserve their flavor and aroma. What sets Asian instant coffee apart is the use of unique techniques and ingredients. From the traditional roasting methods to the art of blending flavors, every cup of Asian instant coffee is a testament to craftsmanship.

Here are some examples of ingredients used in Asian instant coffee:

  • Ginseng: Ginseng is a popular ingredient in Korean instant coffee. It adds a subtle herbal note and is believed to have health benefits.
  • Matcha: Matcha, a powdered green tea, is sometimes blended with instant coffee in Japan to create a unique flavor profile that combines the bitterness of coffee with the earthiness of matcha.
  • Coconut: In Southeast Asian countries, including Thailand and Vietnam, instant coffee mixes often feature coconut flavors. This adds a creamy and tropical twist to the coffee.
  • Corn: Corn is occasionally used as an ingredient in Asian instant coffee, particularly in Thai "Oliang" mixes. It provides a unique sweetness and depth to the flavor.
  • Soybeans: Soybean powder or extracts are sometimes added to instant coffee in Asian countries like South Korea and Vietnam. This imparts a slightly nutty and creamy taste to the coffee.
  • Pandan: Pandan leaves, commonly used in Southeast Asian cuisine, are occasionally infused into instant coffee, giving it a fragrant and aromatic twist.

Distinctive Flavors and Varieties

Asian instant coffee offers a wide range of flavors to suit different palates. From solid and bold profiles to milder and smoother options, there is something for everyone. Additionally, Asian coffee introduces unique regional flavors that showcase the continent's diversity. For instance, Vietnamese coffee is known for its rich and intense taste, while Thai coffee often features a hint of sweetness. The balance between bitterness, aroma, and acidity is carefully calibrated to create a delightful sensory experience.

A bag of Thai Instant Coffee Moccona
Famous Thai Instant Coffee Brand: Moccona

Health Benefits and Specialty Ingredients

Asian instant coffee not only offers convenience and rich flavors but also incorporates specialty ingredients that provide potential health benefits. For example, ginseng, commonly used in Korean instant coffee, is believed to enhance energy levels and promote overall well-being. Matcha, a powdered green tea used in Japanese instant coffee blends, is rich in antioxidants and known for its calming effects. Some Asian instant coffees feature the use of ingredients like turmeric, which has anti-inflammatory properties, or mushroom extracts, believed to support immune health. Additionally, ingredients such as coconut, soybeans, and pandan add unique flavors and textures to the coffee, enhancing the taste experience. By combining convenience, diverse flavors, and potential health benefits, Asian instant coffee offers a delightful and holistic approach to enjoying a cup of joe. Asian instant coffee embraces the concept of available coffee, blending taste and wellness.

Influential Asian Coffee Brands and Market Expansion

Asian instant coffee brands have gained significant traction both within the continent and globally. Brands like Nescafé, Vinacafé, Maxim, and UCC have become household names, captivating coffee enthusiasts worldwide. The market for Asian instant coffee continues to expand, driven by the demand for quality and innovation. The rise of coffee tourism has also played a role in promoting Asian coffee, with travelers seeking authentic coffee experiences.

Several famous Asian instant coffee brands have gained popularity both locally and internationally. Some of these brands include:

Our Picks In Detail

Moccona Freeze-Dried Coffee

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4.2 out of 5 • Buy it for $29 at Amazon • Price last checked May 02, 2024

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4.2 out of 5 • No price available, check stock on Amazon • Price last checked May 02, 2024

Moccona Freeze-Dried CoffeeMoccona Freeze-Dried Coffee

Features

Experience the rich taste of Moccona Classic Dark Roast. Its bold, full-bodied flavor and intense aroma make it the perfect coffee to enjoy everyday. Known for its premium taste and elegant glass jar, Moccona has become a much-loved classic in homes all over Thailand and Australia. About 100 gram per jar. It is sold at a much lower price in Thailand.

Pros

  • Bold, full-bodied flavor
  • Intense aroma
  • Premium taste
  • Elegant glass jar

Cons

  • Price

Vinacafe Instant Coffee

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4.7 out of 5 • Buy it for $30 at Amazon • Price last checked May 02, 2024

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4.7 out of 5 • No price available, check stock on Amazon • Price last checked May 02, 2024

Vinacafe Instant CoffeeVinacafe Instant Coffee

Features

Vinacafe Instant Coffee Mix is a pack of 5 instant coffees that are brought to you by your local merchant. Buying local helps to support your local economy and thank you for supporting! Each pack contains 1-pound of coffee mix.

Pros

  • Buy local to support the local economy
  • Pack of 5 instant coffees
  • 1-pound of coffee mix

Cons

  • No other flavors available

TRUNG NGUYEN G7 Instant Coffee

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4.6 out of 5 • Buy it for $15 at Amazon • Price last checked May 02, 2024

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4.6 out of 5 • No price available, check stock on Amazon • Price last checked May 02, 2024

TRUNG NGUYEN G7 Instant CoffeeTRUNG NGUYEN G7 Instant Coffee

Features

TRUNG NGUYEN G7 3-IN-1 Instant Coffee is a perfect cup of instant coffee anytime. It comes with high-quality coffee powder, non-dairy cream and sugar, creating a uniquely fragrant aroma and irresistible taste. The preparation time is under one minute and it is ideal for travellers as it is lightweight and portable. About 50 sachets per bag.

Pros

  • Premium instant coffee
  • 3 in 1 combination
  • Bold flavor and fragrant aroma
  • Quick and easy to prepare
  • Travel-friendly coffee
  • Made with coffee powder, non-dairy cream and sugar

Cons

  • May be too sweet for some people

Old Town White Coffee Instant Coffee

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4.7 out of 5 • Buy it for $37 at Amazon • Price last checked May 02, 2024

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4.7 out of 5 • No price available, check stock on Amazon • Price last checked May 02, 2024

Old Town White Coffee Instant CoffeeOld Town White Coffee Instant Coffee

Features

  • 45-Day supply when served once a day
  • 45 packets
  • Other flavors: hazelnut, cane sugar, less sugar, milk tea, etc.

OldTown is Malaysia's most loved White Coffee mix. It's made with a special blend of three premium beans and brewed using a traditional process for a delicious taste. With its easy-to-use format and bonus eco-friendly coaster, OldTown is a trusted brand that offers a delightful white coffee experience.

Pros

  • Includes non-dairy creamer.
  • Halal-Certified.
  • Rich and bold flavor profile.
  • A popular Malaysian brand known for its traditional Malaysian-style coffee.

Cons

  • Some individuals may find it too sweet for their taste preferences.
  • The coffee may contain artificial flavors.
  • Single-use packaging.
  • May not be widely available in all regions.

Maxim KANU Korean Instant Coffee

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5 out of 5 • Buy it for $22 at Amazon • Price last checked May 02, 2024

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5 out of 5 • No price available, check stock on Amazon • Price last checked May 02, 2024

Maxim KANU Korean Instant CoffeeMaxim KANU Korean Instant Coffee

Features

The KANU Nutty Caramel Latte is a delicious winter treat. Made with high-quality coffee powder using a special brewing method, it offers a rich nutty flavor with a hint of sweet caramel. It's the perfect drink to enjoy and warm up with during a cozy latte break.

Pros

  • Extracted at low temperature and low water content.
  • A unique flavor combination of nuttiness and caramel.
  • Portable and practical.
  • Enjoyed as a hot latte or used as a flavoring for various desserts or drinks.

Cons

  • May contain artificial flavors.
  • Might be too sweet for some.
  • Possibly hard to find locally.
  • Single serve packaging.

SUPER Original Instant Coffee

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4.5 out of 5 • Buy it for $17 at Amazon • Price last checked May 02, 2024

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4.5 out of 5 • No price available, check stock on Amazon • Price last checked May 02, 2024

SUPER Original Instant CoffeeSUPER Original Instant Coffee

Features

  • 40 Sticks

This 3 in 1 instant coffee is perfect for those who like it sweet and creamy. It is Halal certified and preferred way of coffee consumption in Asia.

Pros

  • Halal certified
  • Priced to make it a budget-friendly option for coffee lovers.
  • It can be stored for an extended period without losing its flavor or quality.
  • Can be used in various recipes and drinks.
  • Portable for travel or camping when access to brewing equipment may be limited.

Cons

  • Flavor can be lacking.
  • Includes additives to enhance flavor.
  • Single-use packaging contribute to plastic waste.

UCC Instant Coffee

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4.5 out of 5 • Buy it for $11 at Amazon • Price last checked May 02, 2024

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4.5 out of 5 • No price available, check stock on Amazon • Price last checked May 02, 2024

UCC Instant CoffeeUCC Instant Coffee

Features

UCC The Blend 117 Instant Coffee is a mixture of different beans from around the UCC estates and a mixture of different roasts of beans from dark, medium, and light. It is a full bodied coffee with perfect levels of acidity, aroma, and smooth flavor intensity.

Pros

  • Enjoy this rich blend anywhere!
  • Just add hot water
  • Long shelf life
  • Has a smooth texture

Cons

  • May come at a higher price point compared to other instant coffee options.
  • Does contain additives to enhance flavor or preservation.
  • Instant coffee typically comes in single-use packaging, which can contribute to plastic waste.
  • May not be widely available in all regions.

Coffee Culture and Café Scene in Asia

The café culture in Asia is vibrant and diverse, reflecting the passion for coffee. Asian coffeehouses are spaces to enjoy a cup of joe and cultural hubs that embody unique aesthetics and experiences. From cozy traditional teahouses in China to trendy specialty coffee shops in South Korea, the café scene in Asia offers many choices. Coffee communities and events further contribute to the global growth and appreciation of coffee culture.

Asian coffeehouses are known for their captivating aesthetics and attention to detail. From minimalist designs to cozy and rustic interiors, each café has its distinct ambiance. Some coffee shops incorporate elements of traditional Asian architecture, while others embrace modern and contemporary themes. The focus is not solely on the coffee but also on creating a sensory experience for visitors.

The coffee community in Asia is thriving, with coffee enthusiasts, baristas, and roasters coming together to share their passion. Numerous coffee-related events, competitions, and festivals are held throughout the year, attracting coffee professionals and enthusiasts from all over the world. These events serve as platforms to showcase Asian coffee, exchange knowledge, and celebrate the craft.

Conclusion

Asian instant coffee has witnessed a remarkable surge in popularity due to its distinctive flavors, cultural significance, and innovative production methods. From carefully selected coffee beans to the artful blending of flavors, Asian instant coffee offers a sensory journey that captivates coffee lovers worldwide.

In a world where convenience is valued, Asian instant coffee offers an aromatic and flavorful experience without compromising quality. Whether you're a coffee enthusiast or simply curious about exploring new tastes, I encourage you to venture into Asian instant coffee. Discover the rich flavors, immerse yourself in the vibrant café culture, and embark on a delightful journey through the aromatic world of Asian coffee.

Author

Amélie has a dual Bachelor of Biological Sciences and Literature. She wrote a Master's Thesis on the importance of blending scientific knowledge with the arts to create a healthier culture. She also has a Bachelor of Education and has been teaching Biology and Language Arts since 2016. She is happily addicted to coffee and constantly learning.

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