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How to Make the Perfect Cup of Instant Coffee

Nigella is a professional cook who has written extensively about recipes and health benefits associated with food.

Start the day off right with the perfect cup of instant coffee.

Start the day off right with the perfect cup of instant coffee.

Nothing is more relaxing than having a coffee break, and instant coffees take all the hard work out of making it.

My personal favourite instant coffee is Nescafe's Alta Rica, which is an especially smooth blend of coffee granules resulting in a superb break-time drink. It's not the cheapest you can buy, but you get what you pay for, and I prefer to have the perfect cup of coffee every time.

Instant coffees are ideal for busy housewives as they are so easy to make, especially when you are only making coffee for one or two people. Percolators, espressos, and other coffee machines are better used when making coffee for several people, or for people who drink several cups throughout the day.

I just like the one cup of coffee per day, mid-morning, although I have been known to have a second if I have the time.

Making instant coffee is not as simple as putting a teaspoon of coffee granules in a cup and adding boiling water. There are some tricks of the trade to make the best coffee, every time.

Fill the kettle with fresh tap water, each and every time.

Fill the kettle with fresh tap water, each and every time.

Tip 1: The Water

Most people don't do this, but simply by boiling freshly drawn water each time you want to make coffee makes a huge difference to the taste.

It helps if you live in a soft water area too, but there is not much you can do if you live in a hard water area, apart from filtering the water to remove some of the unwanted minerals.

It has always been more economical to only fill your kettle with just enough water for your immediate needs.

A lot of people continually keep their kettle full, and fill it to the high-level mark. This is totally unnecessary, and it frequently results in the re-boiling of already boiled water. Each time you boil the water, oxygen escapes and the taste of the water changes. You get exactly the same effect if you are making tea or using the boiling water in cooking.

So, always draw off fresh water from the tap, or water-filter, and set it to boil just once.

The best coffee flavor can be had when you use water that has not quite reached the boiling point.

Keep your chosen spoon inside the coffee jar.

Keep your chosen spoon inside the coffee jar.

Teaspoons come in many different sizes and shapes.

Teaspoons come in many different sizes and shapes.

Tip 2: The Measuring Spoon

While a teaspoon is 5ml in liquid, when measuring solids in a teaspoon you will get a different amount depending on the ingredient.

A teaspoon of flour is different from a teaspoon of sugar because sugar comes in granules whereas flour is a powder. The volume of each substance that can sit on a teaspoon is different depending on its texture.

So when an instant coffee manufacturer tells you to use a teaspoon, do they mean a heaped teaspoon, a rounded teaspoon or a level teaspoon? Each measurement will offer a different taste.

What you need to do is try them all, until you find a level that is perfect for you, using the same teaspoon each time.

This is important because while teaspoons are supposed to hold a standard amount of food, liquid or medicine, they seem to come in all shapes and sizes.

Nescafe Alta Rica instant coffee

Nescafe Alta Rica instant coffee

How to Make Perfect Coffee With Nescafe Alta Rica

  1. Draw fresh cold water from the tap into the kettle.
  2. Put it on to boil.
  3. Meanwhile, take a cup or mug and place 1 teaspoon of Alta Rica inside it.
  4. Take the kettle off the boil just before it actually bubbles all over the place. When it is bubbling it is de-oxygenating and changing the taste.
  5. Fill with water to the desired level (leaving room for the milk if you take it) with water that is almost boiling.
  6. Stir with the spoon to dissolve the coffee.
  7. Add milk as required.
  8. Add sugar or sweeteners as required.
  9. Serve.
Coffee mugs of various sizes

Coffee mugs of various sizes

Tip 3: The Coffee Cup

Cups and mugs come in all shapes and sizes, too. Obviously, each one can hold different amounts of water.

Just as when you use different sized teaspoons to measure out your coffee, you will get a different taste depending on how much water you add. Ideally, you want to try different cups until you find one that holds the correct amount of water for you to drink.

Then there is the feeling of holding that cup to your lips to be considered. I love fine bone china cups, but others prefer thick ceramic mugs. It is entirely a personal choice.

Once you have found your preferred vessel for the actual drinking of your instant coffee, you should try to stick to it, simply because once you have perfected the technique of making the absolute best-tasting coffee, you can ensure that every cup tastes just as good.

In this way, you can ensure you always make the best cup of instant coffee each and every time.

Perfect Nescafe coffee granules

Perfect Nescafe coffee granules

Instant Coffee Poll

Tip 4: Storage Considerations

Once you have found your perfect combination of water, coffee and cup, the next thing you want to think about is storage.

Every time you buy new coffee jars or re-fill packets, you should ideally have a place in your kitchen to keep it. Some people prefer to buy dedication coffee jars or containers. Others just use the coffee directly from the container it arrived in.

Everything has its place, and sometimes tall containers are too high for the cupboard or storage unit.

I have found that Nescafe's small-sized jar fits perfectly in my larder, and so it gets re-filled whenever I restock my household coffee supplies. All I do is transfer some of the new stuff into my coffee jar, leaving enough space for the spoon that I have found makes the perfect coffee every time.

Cake is the perfect accompaniment to a cup of coffee.

Cake is the perfect accompaniment to a cup of coffee.


Once you have perfected your cup of coffee, why not make some cake or fork cookies to enjoy along with it?

All photographs on this page are taken by me and belong to me.


Donald J Trump on January 10, 2020:

Next, I want a recipe on how to get water into a cup for drinking. It should be fast, My expectation is 5 minutes.

Tom on December 09, 2019:

All of you who commenting how there is no need for such a recipe, you are not right. Anything you need to prepare has a correct and bad way to do it. I was here wondering how much coffee should I put and got a reasonable answer. I spent 3 seconds to google it and 15 seconds to read it. And a bit more to write this comment.

Barret on April 14, 2017:

Guidance on water temperature too vague to be any use. Most important thing. Do not use Nestle products.

Gascone on April 12, 2017:

The lines between ads and content are increasingly blurring, and they are likely to vanish completely... this is the perfect example!

Nigella Cook (author) from UK on December 05, 2015:

Nitch, it was believed that milk is best added before the coffee but if you do that, the coffee granules don't dissolve properly.

I do believe the thought came from the making of pots of tea in the days before teabags when it was always considered better to add the milk first.

Gus on October 27, 2015:

How to make an advert look like a recipe:

1. Think of something really obviously easy to make

2. Write instructions on how to make chosen item

3. Liberally intersperse captions and pictures of the specific brand you are advertising

4. Get paid

5. Laugh at people who take it seriously

Nitch on September 22, 2015:

Is there anything in the myth that you should add the milk before the water...? Apparently pouring hot water onto the coffee scoulds the granuals and adds a bitter taste.

Simon on May 23, 2015:

I am amazed that this is seen as a recipe for the perfect instant coffee. Really amazed.

I would therefore like to explain, in far too much obvious detail, how to make...toast.

Put it in the toaster. It will get hot, and the chemical composition will change. Don't be alarmed if it changes colour and becomes firmer. This is part of the toasting experience. Once it pops up its done. I'll blog about spreading butter on it another time!

I like to eat toast in the morning...but have been known to eat some at lunch too.

Could you perhaps write about how to enjoy the perfect glass of water. I just can't work it out

steven156 on May 10, 2015:

This is the most ridiculous post?! It doesn't tell you anything about how to make a "perfect coffee", it just tells you how to boil water and then put in an un-exact amount of coffee with an un-exact amount of sugar and an un-exact amount of milk. So this post should be called "How to Make the Perfect Cup of Instant Coffee with Trial & Error". Because that's not what everyone does anyway. DFW

Melissa Reese Etheridge from Tennessee, United States on January 07, 2015:

Thank you for a wonderful informative post. I'd never had instant coffee until we visited Ireland a few years ago. It was quite tasty. Seems like it was Nescafe. The grocery stores in Ireland didn't have the coffee varieties like we have in the U.S.

billy cheng on October 07, 2014:

hot but not boiling....i tried it many times and boiling hot water seems to make the coffee a little bit bitter

Paul on August 08, 2014:

Instant coffee has nothing on freshly brewed/pressed coffee. Get yourself an aeropress!

bestinstantcoffeeguide.com on November 02, 2013:

I am looking for instant coffee and find your very informative post.

Thanks for your sharing.

Nigella Cook (author) from UK on November 04, 2012:

Thanks! While real coffee is lovely, it is much more convenient to make a cup of instant, providing it is a nice brand of coffee (some blends are awful).

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on November 04, 2012:

Interesting information about coffee making here. Being a coffee lover, I loved reading your hub. Nice information shared by you.

Nigella Cook (author) from UK on November 03, 2012:

Did you not try decaffeinated coffee to see if that would have helped? Often it is the caffeine in coffee that we react with. Sorry to hear you had those troubles.

peachy from Home Sweet Home on November 03, 2012:

Wow, a detail hub about drinking coffee. I used to drink it but my heartbeat pumped too fast so had to give up.

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