Is there a good instant decaf coffee?

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aristide1
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Is there a good instant decaf coffee?

Post by aristide1 » Sun Aug 10, 2008 10:37 am

Perhaps I am asking too much.

In the evening I may want just one cup, sometimes straight, but sometimes for an iced mocha, depending on the weather. brewing just one cup always seemed silly to me.

Options?
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Post by jhhoffma » Sun Aug 10, 2008 12:20 pm

My wife says there is no such thing as "good" instant coffee. It's an oxymoron. Unless you happen to stop by a Dunkin Donuts on your way to work, that might be instant...
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Post by aristide1 » Sun Aug 10, 2008 12:32 pm

I wouldn't mind brewing several cups, if it had a usable life expectancy of more than 12 minutes.

Good restaurants look at a pot of decaf and if its half empty (slightly old) they throw it out.
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Davinator
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Post by Davinator » Sun Aug 10, 2008 12:35 pm

aristide:

There is a Modern Marvels episode on coffee that notes 80% of the coffee consumed worldwide is instant, it's only a lingering US sentiment that instant is no good, principally because for decades into the late 20th century poor-quality coffee was used. Younger people don't have this impression as they were never subjected to the low-grade instant made from robusta coffee decades ago, and with the effect that Starbucks had of raising the quality of coffee that people are drinking in the US, the quality of instant has gone way up. Much of it is now brewed with Arabica coffees and can come in many of the usual varieties you can select from with brewing coffees such as region and blends, so when re-constituted it can be much better than what people think of instant.

In Europe, the brand Nescafe is the largest, and they have a "Gourmet" line you might try. That's not flavored instant, just various brews from different locales just as you would select beans. That may be a good place to start, and while you stand in the store aisle you may see other brands.

I personally brew coffee year round, but I brew it one cup at a time. (The "cup" is a 16 oz. travel mug.) It was a package deal I found at Starbucks back in 1995 that included the mug, a filter cup that sits atop the mug with a gold-plated (re-usable) filter in it, and a water diffuser that goes inside that. You must heat water (I use a Pyrex measuring cup in the microwave) and then pour it into the diffuser. It brews through the grinds in the filter and pours into the mug. When complete you shake out the grinds into the trash or organic recycling / compost and rinse or wash the filter out. The mug is ready to go and keeps the coffee sipping-hot for two hours.

The whole process takes five minutes, some of which is the water heating time that you'd face for instant anyway, so I bring it up because while this particular product is no longer sold at Starbucks, you can find single cup brew-through products if you look, and it's great to have a cup when you want it without having to deal with a machine or filters. I consider myself a "coffee enthusiast," and I want my coffee when I want it, without fuss, but only one cup at a time, so this product works great for me. If it's the "brewing just one cup" part that's important to you, I can affirm it's not silly, you just have to have the convenience for brewing one at a time.

Before settling on this, I explored the option of a machine that brewed directly into a thermal carafe. Many models of this type are made. These are great since once coffee is brewed, any additional heat is it's enemy! That's why heating/warming plates and the entire "percolation" trend is an atrocity to coffee drinkers. Similarly, you can brew in a model with a hot plate, but then quickly remove the carafe from the heating plate upon brewing completion and pour it all into a thermal carafe you buy separately that has a lid or top that seals closed. (Pre-heat this separately by filling it with hot water while you coffee brews. Then pour out the water and pour in the coffee and your coffee will stay hot much longer.) This way you have hot coffee when you want it, a few sips here or there poured into your mug or small tea cup. The downside to this is you have to have the carafe around with you, such as at home for the weekend day or with you at work. After trying this in the mid-1990s I returned to just brewing a cup when I wanted it with my single-serving brew-through setup. It's worked terrific for over a decade now.

If you really do want instant, though, I'd start by looking for a place that sells a Nescafe product and go from there. If you are outside the US you will have a wider array of products to choose from as the stores don't limit their lines as a result of past preconceptions.

Sorry I waxed excessive. You touched on a passion, and I can really type with my fresh cup of Sumatra here at my desk!
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Post by aristide1 » Sun Aug 10, 2008 1:51 pm

Complete answers tend to be wordy, that's never a problem.

I have Nescafe for my lazy latte days; heat milk, drop in coffee. In Greece it's the only brand to drink frappe. It's made in a very specific manner to get the right results, and I've never gotten it right here.

Take your tall glass and add an inch or so of water.
Add the coffee and the sugar per taste.
Most have a little hand held spinner at this point to spin it at high speed until it produces a nice brown foam.
Add water and ice cubes.
The foam survives until the end.

Years ago Nescafe had a special mug and lid and you would shake it and it would always come out right. Then they changed the coffee and that didn't work so hot. Now they all spin it. The coffee over there for this purpose usually comes from France. Local brews aren't as good.

I think you nailed the reason decaf goes so bad so fast. Would it hold up if it was kept chilled?

Thanks
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Post by potsy » Sun Aug 10, 2008 2:41 pm

Davinator, I disagree... there's no such thing as good instant coffee (you knew someone would rise to that bait right?) And Starbucks raising the quality of coffee? Man, it must have been low.

But seriously... I use a camping esspresso machine like this one: link Put a scoop of coffee in, whack it on the stove and you have an esspresso in the time it takes to boil. It takes the same time and effort, so why would you drink instant?
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Post by aristide1 » Sun Aug 10, 2008 3:15 pm

Image and Image

are the only way to cool off in some parts of the world.

What a frappe really means:
http://www.freshcup.com/back-issues/200 ... frappe.htm
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Post by NyteOwl » Sun Aug 10, 2008 6:02 pm

My wife says there is no such thing as "good" instant coffee. It's an oxymoron.
Smart woman. "good decaf" is also an oxymoron :)
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Post by aristide1 » Sun Aug 10, 2008 6:03 pm

NyteOwl wrote:
My wife says there is no such thing as "good" instant coffee. It's an oxymoron.
Smart woman. "good decaf" is also an oxymoron :)
Many feel that way, so which one is less lethal? :roll:
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Post by Emyr » Mon Aug 11, 2008 5:00 am

potsy wrote:in the time it takes to boil
If you're using boiled water for your coffee, you're barred from commenting on good coffee of any kind... :P

I drink whatever the machine makes at work. When I'm at home, I don't care about waiting ten minutes for the cafetiere to finish brewing.

Seriously, can't you prep your coffee then do something else for 10 minutes? Real Coffee rocks!

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Post by jhhoffma » Mon Aug 11, 2008 6:37 am

NyteOwl wrote:
My wife says there is no such thing as "good" instant coffee. It's an oxymoron.
Smart woman. "good decaf" is also an oxymoron :)
Well, she's also fortunate enough to have a $2000 Jura Capressa at her disposal. It makes good coffee, no doubt, but still only a cup at a time.

I will take issue with the whole percolation thing. I still believe that some of the best coffee I've had is using an old tin percolator on camping trips with my dad when I was younger. Granted, that may be nostalgia speaking, but most people I know agree. However, that only applies to fresly percolated[/p] not those big towering monstrosities that keep heating it until it burns.

But when it comes to coffee, I have to defer to the Little Mrs as she's been drinking it black far longer than I have, and I discredit myself when I admit that I like the Pumpkin Spice Cappuccino from Speedway.
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Post by Davinator » Mon Aug 11, 2008 8:41 am

Aristide:

I've only ever had iced coffee a few times, but prepared as one serving only. I'm not sure if chilled coffee would hold up with regard to taste the way iced tea stays tasty in the fridge. Coffee may just come down to needing to be fresh in order to be good.

Those frappes you linked _do_ look refreshing, but dairy tends to punish me later. Can the drink be produced dairy free?

Potsy:

*Laughs* Yes, someone is always bound to bite the instant coffee topic. I do cite the statistic the History Channel episode noted (80% of world coffee consumption is instant), but twice since that episode premeired a few years ago I've tried instant and just can't get into it. For me, it's only fresh-brewed hot coffee, and only black. (Though I am very tempted to try Turkish Coffee someday after seeing the preparation process in that show.)

It may not have been your country's history, but in the US, cheaper robusta coffee was used in nearly all the major brands to save costs, so by the time mid-century rolled around nearly all the coffee was awful. Starbucks wanted to re-introduce coffee made with the much better arabica beans. This coffee is so much better, so aside from the overpriced, mostly-milk drinks they are serviing now, the early success of Starbucks in the US caused every other competitor and all major and minor brands to go back to arabica coffee beans in order to compete once the populace got a sip of what good coffee could be. The last two decades have seen a remarkable improvement in the coffee you can brew at home or what you get served while out someplace.

That machine you linked looks very simple to use, I have to say. I agree with you, which was my point in bringing up a brew-through single serving device. If you can get ahold of something that makes brewing one serving a simple process, it becomes as easy an option as instant and fresh-brewed would be the way to go.

For all the decaf remarks, there may be some hope. I drink regular, but when I visit my Dad I find he now drinks decaf after dinner and it doesn't seem to taste as good. There are efforts to selectively breed coffee plants that produce beans that have no caffeine. You would still have the choice between regular and decaf, but the decaf would not be chemical or water processed, so the actual end product should taste the same.

If you get the History Channel where you are, I can highly recommend the Modern Marvel episode on coffee if you are a coffee drinker. (the one on tea is also interesting.)
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Post by Gxcad » Mon Aug 11, 2008 11:56 am

jhhoffma wrote:My wife says there is no such thing as "good" instant coffee. It's an oxymoron. Unless you happen to stop by a Dunkin Donuts on your way to work, that might be instant...
You missed the other oxymoron - decaf :roll:

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Post by NyteOwl » Mon Aug 11, 2008 2:54 pm

will take issue with the whole percolation thing. I still believe that some of the best coffee I've had is using an old tin percolator on camping trips with my dad when I was younger. Granted, that may be nostalgia speaking, but most people I know agree. However, that only applies to fresly percolated not those big towering monstrosities that keep heating it until it burns.
Oh I agree. I'm fortunate to have one of the heavy Pyrex glass percolators (must be 30 years old at least). Makes fantastic coffee.
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Post by Cistron » Mon Aug 11, 2008 4:07 pm

jhhoffma wrote:My wife says there is no such thing as "good" instant coffee. It's an oxymoron. Unless you happen to stop by a Dunkin Donuts on your way to work, that might be instant...
Amen! And may the flying spaghetti monster also smite those ruthless plastic/paper cup coffee drinker!
potsy wrote:But seriously... I use a camping esspresso machine like this one: link Put a scoop of coffee in, whack it on the stove and you have an esspresso in the time it takes to boil. It takes the same time and effort, so why would you drink instant?
Good old Moka Express.

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PS. decaffinated coffee is ... not coffee.

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Post by aristide1 » Mon Aug 11, 2008 7:17 pm

Davinator wrote:Aristide:
I've only ever had iced coffee a few times, but prepared as one serving only. I'm not sure if chilled coffee would hold up with regard to taste the way iced tea stays tasty in the fridge. Coffee may just come down to needing to be fresh in order to be good.

Those frappes you linked _do_ look refreshing, but dairy tends to punish me later. Can the drink be produced dairy free?
Most people drink frappes with just sugar. They are very dark.

I can't emphasize enough frappes only work with the right Nescafe coffee.

That said I found I can drink iced Starbucks coffee straight with no milk or sugar, and this subtle nutty sweetness comes through. But iced coffee at Starbucks is like twice the price per ounce of their hot coffee. When I worked in Manhattan I used to take a hot one back to work and ice it down myself.

Lately I make iced mochas at home with milk, regular Nescafe instant, and Hershey's syrup. I easily save $9 compared to going out, and they are as strong as I want.
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Post by L2GX » Tue Aug 12, 2008 5:20 am

I get either espresso from my own machine or one of the many bars at my workplace, or I use a Bialetti Moka Express

Image

which will get you the best taste from your grind, bar none, but takes some time, and attention (it can easily overcook the coffee if you leave it on the stove)

I use a 9-cup knockoff, my real Bialetti broke after 2 months of heavy use, the handle broke wrenching it open, which you will find is a bitch. Also it's best done after the machine cools down.
Gentlemen, let me assure you this coffee is literally not for the faint of hart: I get about 3 cups out of my 9 cup device, and undiluted it is enough to make your heart explode. The taste beats the shit out of my espresso machine, though, so I take the damage.

So be smart, get the 1 cup model, and add water to contention. This is called an americano and I drank it when in Italy, without shame.

The instant coffee drinkers in Europe are, unfortunately, philistines, despite their numbers. The upcoming mode of nespresso is no improvement, either.

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Post by aristide1 » Tue Aug 12, 2008 2:26 pm

Does your Bialetti Moka leak? There are replacement parts available, I suspect that's where the real profits are, given the lifespan of the rubber seals. :?
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Post by CallMeJoe » Tue Aug 12, 2008 7:19 pm

You could try a french press coffee maker. Fast, delicious coffee. Widely available in various capacities.

Re: Davinator's informative spiel on coffee marketing in the U.S., even Maxwell House has switched to Arabica beans, and a variety of roasts. I still dislike Starbucks' tendency to scorch their beans. They may start with quality beans, but they still manage to brew an obnoxious cup.
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Post by aristide1 » Tue Aug 12, 2008 7:51 pm

Great tag line.
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Post by L2GX » Wed Aug 13, 2008 12:30 am

aristide1 wrote:Does your Bialetti Moka leak? There are replacement parts available, I suspect that's where the real profits are, given the lifespan of the rubber seals. :?
Actually it doesn't leak.

I stopped using it for a few months (new espresso machine) and when I pulled it out again it did leak.
I always run it trough a few times (vinagre, water, water, coffee, cofffee) to get rid of the metal taste if it's stood unused. After the second run the leaking stopped.

Again, this is on the knockoff.
The original did have issues with leaking, although cleaning helped.

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Post by colm » Sun Aug 24, 2008 10:01 am

CallMeJoe wrote:You could try a french press coffee maker. Fast, delicious coffee. Widely available in various capacities.

Re: Davinator's informative spiel on coffee marketing in the U.S., even Maxwell House has switched to Arabica beans, and a variety of roasts. I still dislike Starbucks' tendency to scorch their beans. They may start with quality beans, but they still manage to brew an obnoxious cup.
I agree about starbucks. coincidentally there is several closing in my locale. I got advice from my father, a 30 year truckdriver.
You really are better of getting the beans, doung the whole process urself. to think you may be hooked on coffee now? wow. do it urself with patience, end up like a drooling crackhead. :lol:
Decaf is bad news. it has too much man made intervention. All attempts at all brands for me left a sharp ache in my right side gut...undeciphered. I shrugged it off as bad, like grained cerals with bht in it. there is very light mixes of coffee still dark in the cup, very natural.
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Post by dougz » Sun Aug 24, 2008 2:35 pm

I still dislike Starbucks' tendency to scorch their beans
Matter of taste. I love dark roast (Italian over French). I understand that Starbucks recently tried to push a lighter roast, but went back to the darker (more expensive) stuff because their customers preferred it.

I simply can't imagine a good decaf instant coffee. The only ground decaf that I ever enjoyed was Starbucks. Pricey, but good. I imagine other premium decafs are probably OK. The supermarket swill is undrinkable for anyone who likes coffee.

I simply use a 4-cup Mr. Coffee drip machine to make 1-4 5oz. "cups." The paper filter removes the oils, and it couldn't be quicker. Of course, you still have to wash the pot & filter basket; it's worth it.

I avoid drinking coffee if I can't have non-instant, non-decaf. Not worthwhile...

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Post by Davinator » Sun Aug 24, 2008 4:05 pm

CallMeJoe:
Re: Davinator's informative spiel on coffee marketing in the U.S., even Maxwell House has switched to Arabica beans, and a variety of roasts. I still dislike Starbucks' tendency to scorch their beans. They may start with quality beans, but they still manage to brew an obnoxious cup.
Yes, you simply cannot trust another to brew your coffee (except a trained mistress if she is also a coffee lover! ;-) ). So you can get your good-quality beans from Starbucks or any other outlet you can well-roasted beans of high consistency, but must brew it yourself.

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Post by Cistron » Mon Aug 25, 2008 1:22 am

L2GX wrote:to get rid of the metal taste if it's stood unused
How? The moka should be massive Aluminium. Unless you boil some badly acidic stuff in there it should be food safe and completely inert.

About the gaskets: yeah, the lose elasticity far too quickly. A little leakage doesn't hurt me though.
Davinator wrote:Yes, you simply cannot trust another to brew your coffee
I fully trust my favourite Viennese coffee houses to produce the most delicious Melange.

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Post by L2GX » Wed Aug 27, 2008 6:05 am

Cistron wrote:
L2GX wrote:to get rid of the metal taste if it's stood unused
How? The moka should be massive Aluminium. Unless you boil some badly acidic stuff in there it should be food safe and completely inert.

About the gaskets: yeah, the lose elasticity far too quickly. A little leakage doesn't hurt me though.
About the aluminum; there's always some aluminum being released by physical processes, and if you don't clean and dry properly (This is not as easy to do as it seems) acid coffee traces inside the bottom reservoir are likely to damage the surface during storage.

It's a quite pronounced taste, but the actual metal content is prolly not that bad.

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Post by Dave » Wed Aug 27, 2008 10:11 am

Get an Aerobie Aeropress. Put your choice of finely ground decaf in it with some hot water (preferably 175 Fahrenheit). 30 seconds later you're done. It only takes slightly longer than making instant, but the results will be much, much better. The only decaf I've ever liked is from New England Coffee. Their decaf french vanilla is also very good. The Aeropress also makes fantastic espresso-style coffee.

I do agree with Davinator though -- instant has come a long way from the bad old days. I was forced to drink some when visiting my in-laws a few months ago, and I was shocked at how much better it was than the last time I had it (10-12 years ago). Now I keep some on hand as a "backup" in case I run out of the real stuff.

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