“For the Love of ‘Fee” is one coffee-lover’s attempt to machete through the tangle of coffee beans and brews to find an awesome cup of coffee. Juan Valdez follows ME! 🙂
I can’t believe my luck. A colleague of mine on contract who is replacing someone on parental leave is from Colombia, and…wait for it…her dad worked in the coffee industry there. AND he knows Juan Valdez. That’s right, THE Juan Valdez. (Okay, the actor who portrayed Juan Valdez…still counts!) Her family knows coffee!
I’ve learned two things from her regarding coffee:
- The best coffee in Colombia is actually exported out of the country to places like North America.
- A lot of Colombians drink INSTANT COFFEE. Yep, they do.
That second one almost melted my brains. Really?? Why when they are surrounded by coffee, would they rather drink awful instant coffee?
Well, folks, the secret is in the type of instant coffee. My colleague says I need to look out for 100% freeze-dried instant coffee, not the average crystalized instant coffee like Folgers or Maxwell House that is predominant in the grocery store ’round here. She brought to me a jar of instant coffee straight from Colombia to “show and smell”. Turns out there are differences: the freeze-dried coffee appears lighter in colour, and more granular or chunkier than what I am used to seeing. Also, the aroma of freeze-dried is different – less acrid, more like coffee. She explained freeze dried is of much better quality than your average instant because of how it’s been processed.
Back in 2016, I wrote about my hatred for instant coffee in general. I even developed a hack to make it taste better! There wasn’t much of a choice around where I live with what was available. I had to deal with the instant coffee crystals of Folgers or Maxwell House.
Which brings me to this week’s food run…It was my usual night of grocery shopping that lead me down the coffee aisle for anything new. This is where I was delighted to find Van Houtte Colombian Light 100% freeze-dried instant coffee. The coffee is sold in a glass jar, and I immediately recognized the chunky look of the granules. Van Houtte is a Montreal, Quebec company and from experience, I know Van Houtte to make a pretty good cup of brewed coffee. To find freeze-dried instant coffee in the aisles without begging my colleague to bring me back a jar of Colombian the next time she’s home was great, but seeing the Van Houtte name was even better! I immediately put the jar into my cart.
Yesterday afternoon, I cracked open that jar and did the sniff test, comparing it to the Folgers we had stuck in the back of the pantry – of course, the freeze-dried smelled better! The Folgers smelled like someone needed to take a bath (to put it mildly). In the spectrum of instant coffee smells, the 100% freeze-dried is more like ground coffee, and definitely less acrid than coffee crystals. I made myself and the hubs a cup of Van Houtte following the directions on the jar (add boiling water or milk to granules). The results were pretty palatable. The hubs commented how smooth-tasting it was. I couldn’t help but notice the coffee smelled like COFFEE in the cup for once instead of some weird drink. After I finished my coffee, the thought crossed my mind that keeping some of this on-hand in my office would be a lot better than the Folgers I have sitting there collecting dust.
No doubt, I am not a big fan of instant coffee, but, to be constructively critical, if there was a type of instant to keep in the cupboard, 100% freeze-dried instant is the way to go…I’ve certainly tasted a lot worse in the instant coffee department! And Van Houtte Colombian Light 100% freeze-dried instant coffee is a good one.