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I'm trying instant coffee for the first time and thought that it tasted like drinking a flat tire. After experimenting with different condiments I came to realize that the offensive taste was from the foam that appears at the top after stirring in the powder and not the liquid itself.

The taste of the foam is bitter and extremely distasteful. But if I spoon it off then the coffee itself is just fine.

I am new to instant coffee and have only tried Nescafé Taster's Choice and Café Listo de La Salvadoreña.

Is this a common theme among instant coffee? Possibly a result of the drying process?

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With proper coffee the foam is referred to as crema. It is typically quite bitter itself (as coffee tends to be anyway), which seems to be a function of the emulsion of the aromatic oils in the crema and CO2 from the bubbles. I don't know that the crema on an instant coffee is any more bitter than the crema on an espresso

Instant coffee aims to replicate the crema to give the appearance of a quality coffee. I have found (I'm from NZ, where we drink quite a lot of instant coffee generally), that instant coffee tends to have a faint chemical taste in the crema that isn't present in an espresso coffee. I suspect this is a result of the process of manufacturing instant coffee, or even perhaps as a result of aiming to get a crema on the instant without the pressurized equipment used to make an espresso coffee

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  • You make a good point about CO2 bubbles. Although I do like soda, any kind of seltzer water (even flavored) is unpalatable to me. I may be experiencing the same distaste from the concentrated amount in the foam. – Zhro Jan 19 at 20:39
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We don't have a coffee machine at my household, so we always use instant coffee. After pouring the boiling water into mugs that already have a spoon of instant coffee scooped into it, little to no foam ever arose.

Could it be that your water wasn't hot enough to dissolve the coffee completely, resulting in separation of the different aspects of it?

I suggest you put the instant coffee into your vessel before pouring in the, I recommend boiling, water.

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  • For reference, I have been heating my water in the microwave for 5 minutes and adding the instant coffee with a spoon and stirring it. – Zhro Jan 20 at 1:26
  • @Zhro - be very careful when heat water in the microwave.the water can become super-heated. Adding a powder, like instant coffee causes nucleation so you get instant boiling/outgassing of the hot liquid and can result in the boiling hot water exploding out of the cup onto you, resulting in (often severe) burns. – bob1 Jan 20 at 8:56
  • I would never recommend boiling water even for instant coffee. Freeze-dried still has enough 'life' in it that boiling water will scald it. Spray-dried won't make much difference, it's already dead, but it will affect the crema formation, even on the cheapest coffee. The OP's Nescafe is freeze dried, the Listo is spray. – Tetsujin Jan 20 at 12:11

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