My Story: Instant Coffee

contributed by Diva M.

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Many coffee connoisseurs turn their noses up at the very mention of humble instant coffee. And while I admit to preferring to grind my own beans and brew a fresh, aromatic pot, there are many good uses for that jar of brown crystals that make it a pantry staple well-worth keeping on hand, even for the most die-hard coffee snobs.

  • Saving a pot of weak coffee. If you brew your regular coffee and it turns out tasting weak, add a spoonful of instant coffee to revive it instead of wasting it and pouring it down the sink.

  • If you're in the mood for an icy, frothy coffee drink, it's easy to add some instant coffee to the blender along with milk, sugar, flavorings and ice (or even ice cream - yum!). No need to brew and chill fresh coffee first.

  • A little instant coffee adds an appetizing, rich brown color to pale beef stew or pot roast gravy. It doesn't taste like coffee. You'll just taste a very subtle hint of smokiness in the background.

  • When baking anything mocha-flavored, use instant coffee instead of the more expensive instant espresso or mix with water to replace brewed coffee. Delicious mocha brownies are as easy as whipping up a box mix and adding a spoonful of instant coffee.

  • Making frugal flavored coffee mixes for gift baskets calls for instant coffee. Recipes for these are everywhere on the web. Search and you're sure to find plenty to suit your tastes.

  • Those desperate mornings when you run out of regular coffee, or the time to brew it. Especially if you doctor it with cream and sugar anyway, today's instant coffees really aren't all that bad and can be a big savings if it keeps you from the trendy coffee shop for your daily fix. Letting it stand for a minute after mixing with hot water allows the flavor to develop and mellows any bitterness.
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