Espresso Powder Vs Instant Coffee: Differences Explained

By Shabbir
Last update:

Espresso powder and instant coffee look similar, but that’s about as far as the similarities go. So you don’t confuse one for the either and end up with a mess on your hands, learn more about the differences between espresso powder vs instant coffee here!

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Lavazza Espresso Ground Coffee Blend, Medium Roast, 8-Oz Cans, Pack of 4 (Packaging May Vary) Premium Blend, Value Pack, Non-GMO, 100% Arabica, Rich-bodied

Espresso powder vs instant coffee explained

Espresso powder is very finely ground roasted coffee beans. You need an espresso machine to brew coffee from espresso powder. Instant coffee is made of dehydrated coffee crystals. To make a drink with instant coffee, you just need to dissolve it in water or milk.

What is espresso powder?

Espresso powder is often confused with instant coffee because of its very powdery form.

Normally, we associate powders with something you can dissolve in water to make something. However, espresso powder gets its name because of the very fine consistency it is ground to.

Is espresso powder just ground coffee?

Espresso powder can be made from any kind of coffee bean, though most coffee roasters suggest using darker roasts from Arabica beans for better flavor.

Roasted coffee beans are put in a burr grinder and ground to fine, powdery feel. You can even make espresso powder at home if you have a coffee grinder.

Espresso needs to be a powder because of the way it is brewed. The powder is added to the portafilter and compressed with a tamper until it becomes a packed puck of espresso powder.

In order for water to pass through the puck, it needs to be at a very high pressure. This combination of high pressure and fine grounds produces a very intense and flavorful shot of espresso.

Coarser grounds will allow too much water to just drip through, resulting in a weaker brew.

What is instant coffee?

Making instant coffee crystals is a much more involved process. First, regular ground coffee beans are brewed. The coffee is then freeze-dried or spray-dried to form crystals.

When you want to drink the coffee, just mix the instant coffee with water and you’ll have a cup of coffee ready to go.

Instant coffee is very popular because of its longevity and ease of making. A sealed pack of instant coffee has a much further expiration date than fresh coffee beans or grounds.

Instant coffee is produced in much bigger bulk than fresh coffee, so manufacturers use cheaper Robusta beans instead.

An interesting byproduct of the instant coffee process is that instant coffee has less caffeine than regular coffee.

Instant coffee vs instant espresso powder

Many manufacturers make something called instant espresso powder. Instant espresso powder is pretty much the same as instant coffee, except the crystals are finer than those of regular instant coffee.

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Can you substitute espresso for instant coffee?

You can substitute espresso for instant coffee in baking if the recipe calls for adding the powder directly to the batter. You can’t substitute it for making coffee, because espresso powder does not dissolve in water like instant coffee.

Can you make coffee with espresso powder

To make coffee using espresso powder, you’ll need an espresso machine. There are also ways to make espresso without an espresso machine, but those are more involved than simply mixing water and coffee.


Instant coffee and espresso powder are two different things altogether, and you don’t want to confuse one for the other when making coffee!

There are some situations in baking where you can switch one for the other, though.

Instant espresso is just another name for instant coffee: the taste is essentially the same, but the consistency of the crystals is smaller.

Last update on 2024-07-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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About Shabbir

Shab is the Chief Caffeine Officer at Coffee Brewster. When he's not weighing out coffee beans for his next brew, you can find him writing about his passion: coffee.