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Coffee Origins & Manufacturing FAQs

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Ever wondered what a coffee bean really is or how instant coffee is made? Read on to find the answers.

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What is coffee? 

Coffee, the drink, is the result of brewing coffee beans that have been roasted and ground.

What is a coffee bean?

What we refer to as a coffee bean, is not actually a bean, it is the seed of the coffee cherry. The seed is really two seeds that are side by side inside the coffee cherry. Each seed is covered by a thin layer known as the silver skin and a protective hull that is called parchment because it resembles parchment paper when dried. 

What is a coffee cherry? 

The coffee cherry is the fruit of a small tree or shrub known as a coffee plant.  

What is ‘green coffee’?

Coffee is a fruit. Green coffee beans are the raw seeds of coffee cherries that have been separated or “processed” and have yet to be roasted. 

How does coffee go from a coffee bean to a coffee cup?

Turning green coffee beans into high-quality instant or ground coffee requires a great deal of expertise and technical know-how. It involves not only you the buying the coffee, but it also involves many farmers, pickers, producers, cuppers, roasters and shippers to get your coffee to where you see it in the supermarket or online.

Where did coffee come from?

Coffee can trace its heritage back centuries to ancient coffee forests in Ethiopia. There, legend says that a goat herder called Kaldi first discovered the potential of these beloved beans after he noticed that his goats become more energetic after they ate berries from a certain tree.  

Read more about the history of coffee here.  

Where do NESCAFÉ coffee beans come from?

We source coffee from several countries across nearly all coffee origins but mainly from Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia, Indonesia, and Honduras. These countries are all located in the tropics. That’s the belt running between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.

What coffee beans are used in NESCAFÉ coffee?

We use either Arabica or Robusta coffee beans, or a blend of the two, in the coffees we make. Arabica is the most commonly used type of coffee bean in the world and Robusta is the second most used coffee bean variety. You’ll find details on which beans are used in each coffee on our product pages. 

What is instant coffee?

Instant coffee, also known as soluble coffee and coffee powder, is a drink created from brewed coffee beans. It’s manufactured by either freeze-drying or spray drying methods, after which they’re rehydrated before use. 

What’s the difference between instant coffee and ground coffee?

Instant coffee and ground coffee are both made from coffee beans, However, it’s what happens to that coffee before it ends up on a shelf that explains the difference. Instant coffee is coffee that has already been brewed, processed and preserved in its packaging. Ground coffee is not processed beyond washing and roasting.  

How is instant coffee made?

Instant coffee is made from real coffee beans. Whole beans are roasted, ground and brewed before they start their journey to becoming instant. What makes coffee instant is when all the water is removed from the brewed product, leaving behind dehydrated crystals of coffee. To make it coffee again, you just add water. 

What is spray drying?

Spray drying is achieved by spraying liquid coffee concentrate as a fine mist into very hot, dry air. When the coffee hits the ground, the water has been evaporated and it has dried into small, round crystals. The quality of the aroma and flavour are preserved due to the very fast drying occurring during this process.  

What is freeze-drying?

Freeze drying coffee involves a few steps.  

1. First, the coffee is cooked down into an extract.  
2. The coffee extract is chilled into a slushy consistency.  
3. The prechilled slush is put onto a belt, tray or drum, then further cooled until it forms slabs of coffee ice.  
4. Then the coffee ice is broken into granules.  
5. After they’re sent to a drying vacuum, where the ice vaporizes and leaves behind instant coffee granules. The quality of the aroma and flavour are protected by the very low temperature and gentle drying conditions. 

What NESCAFÉ instant coffees are spray dried or freeze dried?

This really depends on the coffee and what is agreed before the manufacturing process starts for new products. Typically, NESCAFÉ Original (including NESCAFÉ Original In 1) and NESCAFÉ AZERA instant coffees are spray dried, whereas NESCAFÉ GOLD is freeze dried, apart from NESCAFÉ GOLD Espresso and NESCAFÉ GOLD Smooth which are spray dried.  

When was NESCAFÉ instant coffee introduced?

It was introduced on 1 April, 1938 in Switzerland by Dr Max Morgenthaler. Nestlé set up a large-scale production line of coffee extraction and spray drying coffee beans to produce NESCAFÉ at a factory in the Swiss town of Orbe. NESCAFÉ was introduced to the UK two months later.  

Read more about the history of NESCAFÉ here