This morning I brewed some coffee at work using a pour-over and noticed that the amount of milk and sugar required to get the desired taste and whiteness was significantly less.

I do not mean because it tastes better it needs less, the amount of milk and sugar needed was less. Is this due to the density of instant coffee which requires it to have more for the taste to be recognizable? Or is there more to it?

  • 2
    Instant coffee is generally made from robusta beans while brewed coffee is made from arabica beans. The plant varietal differences may affect the taste interaction with milk and sugar.
    – Lyrl
    Jan 25, 2017 at 21:26

2 Answers 2


This question is fairly ambiguous as you've simply described the result as a 'desired taste' so I cannot tackle the question from a specific angle. However, the differences you describe may be a symptom of the fact that there are big differences between instant coffee and your pour-over.

Actual coffee. Your pour-over must be done with coffee grounds and so you are producing a cup of coffee freshly extracted from the grounds and subsequently freshly enjoyed. Not to mention the beans used might simply be of a higher quality than that used in instant coffee manufacturing.

Pour-over. The brewing method itself is often known to produce much more nuanced flavours as it allows the brewer control of water flow as opposed to automated brewers. This means that you can better extract the sugars and compounds that give coffee its aroma and flavour. Instant coffee is not fresh and the general manufacturing process is done en masse so the level of control that you would have to fine tune your cup of pour-over coffee will simply not be present in instant coffee. Also, due to the extra processes involved in freeze-drying and packaging the instant coffee, many flavourful compounds can be lost well before it reaches your cup.

The factors noted above can change the resulting cup you enjoy and therefore change the amount of milk or sugar you will need in order for you to achieve your desired taste. Since the pour-over method can extract more sugars and delicate compounds that make coffee so delicious, it will also reduce the requirement of extra sugar.


The answer is subjective, and even if we agree on taste, it will still be unclear, because reasons:

  • The instant coffee, unless it's Starbucks or some other name brand, will most likely be made of Robusta varietal beans, which are widely known to taste far worse than the Arabica beans you will find used for pourovers. (Interesting fact: Robusta contains roughly 3 times the amount of caffeine than Arabica beans do, by weight.)
  • Instant coffee is essentially coffee concentrate. Remember how concentrated orange juice tastes.
  • Before becoming instant coffee, the beans may have been roasted more heavily than one would normally like, in order to remove any distinguishing flavors, and to create a uniform flavor profile. Remember-- most people who buy instant coffee drink it for the caffeine, and don't care about the flavor. In fact, if there is a distinct flavor, they may hate it.
  • To add to those points: the more heavily roasted my coffee is, the more cream/sugar I must add to make it drinkable. Your mileage may vary.
  • 1
    But concentrated orange juice tastes good whether straight up with a spoon or cut 1:1 with water as a smoothie. Just watch the brain freeze...
    – Ecnerwal
    Feb 13, 2017 at 1:26
  • @Ecnerwal LOL "cut 1:1" Feb 13, 2017 at 2:12

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