I had a 7am meeting at my day job. No one bought coffee. Crazy. I know. And sadly, I was running late, so I didn't get to brew a lovely cup of Mexican Chiapas to keep me awake. So I trotted down to the good ol' Maxwell House instant coffee machine. (I was desperate and it was free, don't judge me).
This got me thinking: Is instant coffee as good for you as brewed coffee?
I have to be honest here. This was not a true scientific approach. I'm prejudiced against instant coffee and my bias may have skewed my research. Luckily, I'm not really a scientist and took no oath.
So lets start off with how instant coffee is made. The first method is spray drying. In this method, a fine mist is sprayed into hot air. This makes the water evaporate and the coffee turn to a fine powder. It is basically instant dehydration. The second method is freeze dried. In this method they freeze the coffee then, through sublimation (solid > liquid > gas) get rid of the water, leaving little coffee crystals. (http://coffeeandhealth.org/all-about-coffee/instant-coffee/)
My starting assumption was that there is no way something can be processed like that and keep all the nutrients. Sadly, I was wrong.
Coffee is considered "healthy" because of antioxidants. Instant coffees showed to have a higher concentration of some particular antioxidants than normal brewed coffee (phenols and flavonoids).
The one leg up brewed coffee has is that it contains more chlorogenic acids. These are antioxidants that add to cardiovascular health, but do not make it completely through the process into instant coffee. BUT...because the process can ruin flavor and aroma, instant coffee is fortified to add this back in. Some add green coffee beans to the mix to bolster the acids and some are fortified after the process. (http://www.berkeleywellness.com/healthy-eating/food/article/instant-coffee-benefits; http://www.nutritionletter.tufts.edu/issues/8_12/ask-experts/ask-tufts-experts_1209-1.html)
As much as I want to hate on instant coffee, I can't do it for health reasons.....it still tastes terrible.