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Instant coffee production

How do coffee beans become granules?

There are four main stages in the NESCAFÉ instant coffee production process: Growing, harvesting, drying, and milling.

Growing

Growing

Coffee plants begin their life as plantlets in our nurseries. After 6-12 months, they're carefully transferred to the fields. While some plants may start producing coffee cherries as soon as one and half to two years after being transplanted, coffee plants normally reach their full production potential within three to four years.

Harvesting

Harvesting

A well-looked after, viable plantation normally lasts for about 20 years. Ensuring they stay healthy and producing coffee cherries for this long requires careful nurturing from our well-trained farmers, who rely on the precise red colour of the coffee cherries to indicate that it's the best time for harvest. The ripe coffee cherries are picked, and sent on to the next stage.

Drying

Drying

The coffee cherries are carefully dried. Interestingly, there are two ways to dry coffee cherries - the "natural" drying process, where they're dried as soon as they arrive after harvesting, or with a "wet" process, where they're washed to remove the husk and pulp before they're dried. Each method brings out and highlights different qualities in the coffee.

Milling

Milling

This stage is where the dried coffee cherries are processed, and turned into the delicious, 100% pure NESCAFÉ instant coffee granules you know, love, and trust.

Is NESCAFÉ Instant Coffee real coffee?

The short answer? 100% real! NESCAFÉ uses only the highest quality Arabica and Robusta beans to create our signature bold flavours, and easily dissolved coffee granules. Take a journey with us from the moment the coffee beans are delivered, to the moment you take them home, and see for yourself - 100% real coffee, from the coffee plant to your coffee cup.

What is instant coffee made of?

Turning fresh, green coffee beans into NESCAFÉ instant coffee granules is a long, but rewarding process. From start to finish, the only ingredient we use is 100% pure coffee, adding nothing else but water. We carefully select and blend two main types of coffee bean - Arabica beans, and Robusta beans. Arabica beans - grown in Ethiopia, Latin America and Eastern Africa - are longer, and make a sweeter, more delicate cup of coffee. It's more acidic, and with less caffeine. Robusta beans, which come from the Canephora coffee tree, are shorter and round, and provide a stronger, heavier, more bitter-tasting coffee. Robusta beans are grown in more humid places - mainly South East Asia and Western Africa. We also use a close relative of the Canephora plant - called Conillon - to produce Robusta beans on our coffee farms in Brazil.

Growing

1. Growing

Every NESCAFÉ coffee plant starts off out in our nurseries, where they're carefully looked after for 6-12 months. When they're ready, they'll be transplanted into the fields on the NESCAFÉ farms. Our expert team of coffee farmers, giving them the care they need, to ensure that they begin producing coffee cherries. The coffee bean itself is the seed of these coffee cherries, which begin to grow within about 1 and a half years - and after about 3 years, the coffee plants will be at their most productive, allowing us to make the 100% pure NESCAFÉ coffee granules you use to start your day.

Harvesting

2. Harvesting

The best way to tell if a coffee plant is ready to be harvested is by looking at the colour of the coffee cherries. Our farmers rely on their well-trained eyes to make sure they're harvesting the coffee cherries at the perfect time, when the fruit of the coffee plant is a very precise shade of red. It's this careful way of nurturing and harvesting the coffee plants that helps us keep our plantations viable, healthy, and growing for up to 20 years. Interestingly, the fresh coffee beans that are harvested from the coffee cherries aren't the golden brown colour of our NESCAFÉ coffee granules - they're a light green colour until they're roasted to perfection, ready to be made into soluble instant coffee granules.

Roasting

3. Roasting

Taking those fresh green coffee beans and turning them into the golden-brown coffee granules that power your day takes a very important step – roasting. This is where the coffee develops its flavour, intensity, and aroma. Different roasts and intensities require different roasting times – Arabica with a lighter, more delicate experience, and Robusta with a bolder, deeper profile. We roast our coffee beans at the perfect temperature, every single time, to make sure you’re getting the taste you’ve come to enjoy from NESCAFÉ.

Grinding

4. Grinding

Now that the coffee beans have been roasted to perfection, it’s time to grind them up into fine coffee grounds. These aren’t the coffee granules you put into your coffee mug in the morning – that’s still a few steps away.

Brewing

5. Brewing

Yes, you read that right. NESCAFÉ coffee is brewed before it gets into your cup! It’s a crucial part of the coffee preparation process, because without the brewed coffee, we don't get the coffee extract we need, which then gets dried in the next stage of production. The ground coffee is brewed with water, which is the only added ingredient throughout this process.

Did you know: we don’t throw away any coffee grounds! They’re dried and reused as fuel for our boilers. Our Cup of Respect ideology starts early in the process.

Read more about our sustainable coffee practices
Getting ready to come home with you

6. Drying

There are a few different ways to dry the brewed coffee, but the intention is the same – removing as much water as possible. We use two methods, for different NESCAFÉ products.

Spray drying

This method uses hot air to dry the coffee extract. The water in the extract evaporates, leaving a fine powder behind, which is used for NESCAFÉ Red Mug and Classic.

Freeze drying

This method relies on a process called “sublimation”. Basically, this is where we turn a solid (the excess frozen water in the granules) and turn it into steam – skipping the part where it melts and becomes a liquid again, which would dissolve the granules. So, to make sure you get that perfect cup of NESCAFÉ, we remove the water by immediately turning it to steam, leaving behind the golden-brown coffee granules we use for NESCAFÉ Gold.

Getting ready to come home with you

7. Getting ready to come home with you

Once the washing, roasting, grinding, brewing, freezing, and sublimating is done, it’s time to put our perfectly created NESCAFÉ coffee granules into our trademark jars, and delivering them to retailers, so you can get your coffee fix!

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Is NESCAFÉ instant coffee real coffee?

NESCAFÉ instant coffee granules are made from 100% pure coffee. The only thing added throughout the process is plain water, which is then mostly removed towards the end of the process.

How do we make instant coffee?

Making instant coffee granules from coffee beans is a long process with four main parts – growing the beans, harvesting them, roasting them, and milling the beans, which produces the 100% pure soluble instant coffee granules you use to make your cup of NESCAFÉ. All you need to add is hot water, for a delicious cup of NESCAFÉ instant coffee.

How is freeze dried coffee made?

Freeze-dried coffee is made by brewing ground coffee beans with water, evaporating as much of the water as possible to leave behind a coffee extract, which is then frozen and broken up into soluble instant coffee granules.