When I buy coffee from outside, from whatever popular brand outside, and drink it, I feel a bit elevated. Especially one with higher caffeine content.

However, when I drink the one I make my own I feel a bit more neutral/ have a headache depending on how much instant coffee powder I use. I am so confused on this because to my understanding, both the restaurant and I are using more or less the same ingredient: Coffee beans. So why does one lead me to be elated while the other gives me a headache?

Here is my preparation currently: Powder and sugar in cup, hot milk in, mix to serve. Definitely not the most sophisticated kind of preparation but I think the chemical composition of the ultimate product should be comparable, hence the effect of drinking.

I'm aware of Why are Costa or Starbucks lattes so good?, though that question is aimed at improving coffee at home. In this question, I'm interested in a comparison of instant coffee and espresso-based coffee.

  • 1
    Does this answer your question? Why are Costa or Starbucks lattes so good? If not, please elaborate on the kind of coffee you get in restaurants. Is it espresso-based (the linked question deals with that) or is it a filter brew? The answers there focus on why coffee chains serve good coffee, maybe you're interested in why your preparation is underwhelming? In that case, I think it'd be better to focus (at least the title) on that so it's not a duplicate. Related Why does instant coffee have a poor reputation?
    – JJJ
    Jun 12, 2021 at 22:14
  • Hi @JJJ , I felt the first one was close to my question but really doesn't explain exactly why the feeling delivered by each is different but rather the answer discusses how to make the drink better. I read through the instant coffe thread , and while it is related, I feel my question here is still unanswered
    – user9174
    Jun 12, 2021 at 22:19
  • I see, so you're really after a comparison of instant versus restaurant coffee (I think we can assume that means espresso-based drinks)? I think that's okay as a question. :)
    – JJJ
    Jun 12, 2021 at 22:28
  • 1
    Indeed, and yes about the espresso drinks. @JJJ
    – user9174
    Jun 12, 2021 at 22:32
  • What is your full recipe? Quantities matter here. Also if you buy a specific brand of instant, let us know what. Short answer is that the feeling you're describing is likely the effect of caffeine on your body, but we can't tell you how instant compares to espresso in terms of caffeine content without knowing more about the characteristics and quantity of the instant powder you use.
    – R Mac
    Jun 15, 2021 at 1:26

1 Answer 1


Instant coffee is coffee that has already been brewed then cooled and underwent a process that leaves only the solids.

Instant coffee is usually made of cheaper robusta beans (high quality robusta beans also used in Italian espresso blends to give specific flavors). Robusta also has more caffeine content than Arabica, but instant coffee has less caffeine than a coffee brewed from the same beans using other methods.

Espresso yields a brew that will be more complex and a more satisfactory sensatory experience (how can you resist the smell of a espresso being brewed, that alone has more kick that the caffeine itself!). Instant coffee on the other hand is practical and quick to prepare, espresso forces you to focus on the preparation process and let's you try different parameters (grind size, amount of coffee, temperature, extraction pressure and time) to get your ideal brew.

  • Are you sure instant coffee has less caffeine than fresh brews? Instant coffee is just fresh coffee dried for later consumption. Unless caffeine is lost somewhere in the dehydration process I don't see why it would have less caffeine. If anything, wouldn't instant have a higher caffeine content if more Robusta is used?
    – JJJ
    Jun 15, 2021 at 15:38
  • To be honest, i thought instant had more kick than other coffees, but i did some research and it seems like it's the other way around...
    – Elfarto
    Jun 15, 2021 at 17:03

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