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Are K-Cups Instant Coffee? The Interesting Answer


With the arrival of the Keurig coffee pod brewers, a lot of people have changed how they make their coffee. While some jumped right into the coffee pod craze, others passed it off as a phase that will die down eventually. Although the hype for Keurig and single-serve brewers has slowed down a little, many people still reach for their favorite K-Cup every morning.

But what’s inside those nifty little K-Cups? Since they’re opaque and are not (usually) opened to see inside, it left quite a few people wondering. Between the convenience of making only one cup and the quick brewing time, rumors quickly spread that the coffee inside was instant. Thankfully, we are here to put that rumor to rest: K-cups are not made with instant coffee.

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Are K-Cups Instant Coffee?

The short answer is no, K-cups are not made with instant coffee. K-Cups contain finely-ground coffee with a filter inside, sealed by tinfoil to keep the coffee inside even after use. Most regular coffee in the K-cup pods is made with Arabica beans, which is the most popular coffee bean on the market. The Keurig machine brews the coffee, whereas instant doesn’t need to be brewed or filtered.

Some K-Cups might actually contain a little instant coffee if the pods are a cappuccino-like drink, but most of them use regular coffee. Many coffee brands also have K-Cups available, so it’s no different than brewing it through a regular coffee maker. You can even use your favorite coffee with reusable pods, which are sold in most stores.

Keurig Starbucks K-Cup

What is Instant Coffee?

Instant coffee is coffee that is made without any kind of filtering or brewing machine. A spoonful of boiling water is all it takes to make instant coffee, which is where the name comes from. Most instant coffee is made with Robusta beans, the second most popular coffee bean. It’s very convenient and great to have around, especially for coffee lovers that enjoy camping.

Instant coffee was invented around the 1880s. Once the product was perfected, instant coffee quickly took off in popularity. Today, there is an endless list of drinks made with instant coffee. Some countries only drink instant, so its influence goes beyond convenience.

Can You Use Instant Coffee in the Reusable Coffee Pod?

We don’t recommend using instant coffee in the Keurig reusable K-cup. Although you technically can, it’s best to stick with regular coffee. Instant coffee is soluble in hot water, so it’ll dissolve fairly quickly inside the pod. Instant coffee doesn’t need a filter or brewer. If you want to make instant with your Keurig, put a teaspoon of instant coffee in your mug and use hot water from the Keurig.

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Arabica versus Robusta Coffee Beans in K-Cups

There are four main types of coffee beans, but two beans stand out the most: Arabica and Robusta. Both play crucial roles in the coffee industry based on consumer demand, responsible for the most produced out of all other coffee beans.

how much coffee is in a k cup
Rude Awakening’s strong K-Cups are made with Arabica and Robusta beans.

Arabica beans are mellow and known for their low acidity, with a delicate sweetness and a chocolatey taste. They’re grown in many countries worldwide, with Brazil being the number one producer of the popular beans. These delicate beans are highly sought after, from coffee shops and bagged coffee to Keurig K-Cups and other coffee pods.

Robusta beans are more bitter and harsher to the taste than Arabica beans, mostly in Vietnam and Brazil. They’re mostly used for instant coffee, but they’re sometimes requested for espresso blends. Robusta beans look slightly different than Arabica and are easier to grow, but their bitter taste makes them less popular. Some K-Cups, like Rude Awakening, use a mixture of Arabica and Robusta beans to produce a high caffeine content without ruining the flavor.

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Final Thoughts

When Keurig first hit the scene, there was a lot of confusion and excitement about the single-serve brewers. People were amazed that it could brew a single cup of coffee within a couple of minutes or less, which quickly turned into questions. While Keurig machines may be convenient, Keurig machines are simply not as fast as instant coffee.

Instant may not replace your coffee or K-cups, but it can be nice to change it up and have a quicker cup of coffee in the morning. If you have some in your pantry, you can easily use your Keurig for hot water or microwave water in a mug until boiling in a microwave-safe mug. You can also add some instant coffee to the mug before brewing your K-Cup for a little kick, especially for lighter blends.


Featured Image: Randy, Flickr


Kate MacDonnell

Kate is a lifelong coffee enthusiast and homebrewer who enjoys writing for coffee websites and sampling every kind of coffee known to man. She’s tried unusual coffees from all over the world and owns an unhealthy amount of coffee gear.

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