Can You Use Ground Coffee as Instant? (Read This First!)

I was going to say we’ve all done it – but perhaps that’s wrong. Although I certainly have.

Being too cryptic?! I mean making coffee with ground coffee like it’s instant. Wait? What!

If you don’t have instant coffee or a French press to hand, you can make weak, grainy, and oily coffee using grounds, hot water, and a paper coffee filter over a cup. This process will give you a cup of coffee, but it won’t have much flavor or strength.

Let’s dive down into the topic of making ground coffee as instant in more detail, and discover how this can be done, what it tastes like, and why it’s probably only best for an emergency caffeine boost only…

Can You Use Ground Coffee as Instant?

Can I Make Ground Coffee Into Instant Coffee?

If you’re desperate for your caffeine fix and have run out of instant coffee, you can always try and make a brew using ground coffee.

Will it work as well? No, it won’t – but in an emergency, it’s better than nothing. The best solution if you’ve got only ground coffee would be to make a “proper” brew using a quick method like a French press. 

However, if you find yourself in a rush, with no instant, and no obvious means of making coffee with grounds, there are a few hacks you can try. 

Can Ground Coffee Be Used Like Instant?

Ground coffee and instant coffee are very different from each other, and although you can pour hot water over coffee grounds, you won’t get the same smooth result that you would from instant granules.

So, what sort of cup do you end up with if you use ground coffee like instant?

Well, it won’t taste as strong, because grounds work by having the water pressed slowly through them. If you simply mix them quickly with hot water, you won’t get the same flavor.

You’ll also find that your coffee feels oilier. The coffee bean is rich in oils, which are normally captured by the filter during the brewing process. Without this, the oils remain in the brew – along with more caffeine.

Then there’s the texture. Not all the coffee grounds will dissolve in the water, so you’ll end up with grainy coffee. So, if you want to make a cup of instant coffee using grounds, you’ll need to adapt your method.

Can I Just Add Hot Water to Ground Coffee?

You can always just spoon granules into the bottom of a cup then pour over the hot water, just like you would with instant granules. It won’t taste particularly good, and you’ll end up with grains or gloop at the bottom of the cup, but it can be done.

Do you have any filter papers or a reusable filter cloth in the kitchen? If so, you can rescue this situation and make a tolerable cup of coffee. (And in moments of real caffeine-based crisis, you can use a kitchen towel as a strainer…)

Here’s a handy hack for making instant coffee from ground coffee:

  1. Make a cup of coffee using the grounds, just like you would with instant granules (grounds in the bottom of the cup, pour the hot water over, stir)
  2. Leave the coffee to sit for as long as you can bear
  3. Now get a second cup, ideally with a fairly narrow rim (no wide-rimmed cappuccino cups need apply)
  4. Place the filter paper in the top of the second cup. Wet it with hot water first to make sure it sticks better to the cup
  5. Carefully and slowly pour the coffee from the first cup into the second cup. The filter should capture the gloop from the grounds, giving you a smoother drink

Run out of coffee filter papers? Here’s how to make a DIY coffee filter using a paper towel. An essential life skill, we feel.

If you don’t even have a paper towel, simply transferring the coffee mix from one cup to another will remove some of the granules, as some will stick gloopily to the bottom of the first cup.

What Can I Use if I Don’t Have Instant Coffee?

If you’ve run out of instant coffee and need coffee in a hurry, you can use coffee grounds instead. If you can, improvise using a spare cup and a coffee filter, otherwise your drink will have a grainy texture.

If you find that you often need to make coffee fast, have you thought of investing in a French press? These are super-quick to use, and because they have a built-in mesh plunger, you don’t even need to keep a supply of papers.

Here’s how to use a French press to make excellent coffee.

Are Instant Coffee and Ground Coffee the Same?

Instant coffee and coffee grounds are very different things. Instant coffee has already been brewed, which is how you get that rich and mellow flavor without having to press the water through them.

Coffee grounds have been roasted but not yet brewed – that’s your job.

To make instant coffee, coffee has been brewed, dried, and then frozen. This process makes sure that the dehydrated granules dissolve in water.

Yes, it’s not always the most sophisticated-tasting brew, but instant is quick, easy, and gives you a complete cup of coffee when you need it.

Ground coffee on the other hand is just what its name implies: coffee beans that have been ground. The beans have also been dried and roasted of course, but the powdery grounds lack the flavor that brewing imparts.

Is Instant Coffee Better Than Ground Coffee?

Instant is the better bet if you want quick and easy coffee. However, if you’re after a fine-tasting cup, there’s nothing like freshly ground beans, brewed correctly.

Most coffee aficionados won’t touch instant coffee. However, it’s always good to have a jar on standby if you’re in a hurry. 

Does Ground Coffee Dissolve in Water?

Ground coffee will dissolve in water – kind of. There’ll always be some grains or muddy textured stuff left behind, as grounds are not made to dissolve in water like instant granules are. 

If you’re using ground coffee as instant coffee, at least try to introduce some filtration to the process, to capture some of the lumps.You’ll also find that ground coffee made without a filter is oilier, as the filter normally collects the natural oils from the coffee beans.

What Makes Instant Coffee Instant?
What Makes Instant Coffee Instant?

Final Words: What Makes Instant Coffee Instant? 

Instant coffee is instant because it’s already been brewed, while ground coffee is still raw (well, it’s been roasted, but not brewed). The brewed coffee is dried and frozen, which results in dehydrated granules. 

When the water hits the granules, they rehydrate almost immediately, dissolving into the liquid. There’s a whole lot of work gone into producing those humble jars of instant coffee.

And I for one think that many instant coffee brands available these days are actually pretty good – and certainly taste better than trying to make an instant cuppa joe with coffee grounds. 🙂