Instant Coffee vs Ground Coffee: Which Is Cheaper?

Instant Coffee vs Ground Coffee: Which Is Cheaper? (2023)

Instant Coffee vs Ground Coffee: Which Is Cheaper?

Some 34 percent of the planet prefers to drink instant coffee rather than ground coffee. But which works out cheaper, instant or ground?

Instant coffee is considerably cheaper than ground coffee. The average price of a cup of instant coffee is $0.07, whereas the average price of a cup of ground coffee is $0.37. The cost of preparing ground coffee is further increased by the fact that specialized equipment is needed to brew the coffee.

If instant coffee is so much cheaper, why isn’t it more popular? Let’s dive in and take a look at the reason ground coffee is so much more popular.

Price comparison of instant vs ground coffee

Comparing the prices of 97 different instant and ground coffees on the website of one of the world’s largest supermarkets, I was able to extrapolate data to show you in detail the true cost difference. The average prices were as follows:

Instant coffee price per 100g$2.18
Ground coffee price per 100g$4.07
Instant coffee price per ounce$0.62
Ground coffee price per ounce$1.15

Whilst this might make leave you thinking that instant coffee is the more expensive, what you have to take into account is the amount of coffee used for each serving. Here is a price comparison for a 250ml (8.5fl oz) cup of brewed coffee:

250ml cup of instant coffee$0.07
250ml cup of ground coffee$0.37

As you can see, there is a considerable difference in price between instant and ground coffee for each serving measure. This is due to the fact that instant coffee requires just a fraction of the amount of coffee to produce the same sized cup.

For most people, one rounded teaspoon weighing 1.8g is adequate for a 250ml cup of coffee, which equates to 55.5 servings per 100g.

On the other hand, in order to make the same 250ml cup using ground coffee, you would need to use almost 17g of ground coffee, which is just short of six servings per 100g.

Why is instant coffee cheaper?

At first glance, it seems a little odd that instant coffee is the cheaper alternative given the huge amount of effort that companies such as Nestlé have to go to in order to manufacture instant coffee. So why is instant coffee cheaper than ground?

To keep costs low, instant coffee manufacturers mostly use the low-quality and cheaper robusta variety of coffee. Manufacturers also use past crops of coffee harvested the previous year as the loss in quality significantly reduces the purchase price. Lastly, because less instant coffee is used, packaging prices are lower too.

More than 98 percent of the world’s coffee comes from just two varieties, which are arabica and robusta. Robusta has a harsher, bitter taste, meaning that it is significantly cheaper than it’s superior brother, arabica.

Robusta is also easier to grow than arabica and yields larger crops. The lower production costs and decreased loss of earnings ensure that robusta remains at a low price.

Whilst there does exist jars of instant coffee made up of 100 percent arabica, the cost price per cup is still lower than even the cheapest ground coffee. Purchasing 100 percent arabica instant is one of the best investments you can make to your daily coffee routine as the taste difference is vastly superior.

You can purchase my favourite 100 percent arabica instant coffee on Amazon, and taste the difference for yourself

The reason that instant coffee is so popular the world over is due to its sheer convenience. All that’s needed is boiling water and a mug to enjoy a piping hot cup of coffee. Ground coffee, on the other hand, requires specialist equipment, which further increases the cost per cup.

Instant often gets a bad rap, with many swearing by only using ground coffee. So what’s the deal if it’s so much more expensive?

Which is better: instant coffee or ground coffee?

Visit any respectable coffee shop and you’ll see that only freshly ground coffee is used to prepare their delicious coffee drinks.

We all know how enjoyable a cup of coffee is from the local coffee shop, so this begs the question: is ground coffee better than instant?

Freshly ground coffee that hasn’t undergone any treatment is far superior in taste and flavour to instant coffee. Instant has significantly lower levels of flavour and aroma, which is caused by the rigorous manufacturing process. Instant also has fewer health benefits in terms of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and potassium.

The manufacturing process that turns fresh coffee beans into instant coffee destroys many of the flavour and aroma compounds trapped inside each and every coffee bean.

If you want a better coffee experience, make sure to check out the very best coffee available to buy on Amazon.

In order to make coffee soluble, the whole coffee beans have to first be ground and brewed before undergoing further treatment such as dry-freezing.

Essentially, instant coffee is second-hand coffee as it has already been brewed once before, which is the main reason that it lacks the freshness of ground coffee.

As we’ve already seen, many instant coffees are pure robusta, but this is not the case with ground coffee. Most store-bought ground coffee is a blend of arabica and robusta coffee beans. The fact that the blend is partly arabica makes for a more tasty cup of filter coffee.

The arabica found in ground coffee has less bitter compounds and a higher sugar and oil content, which produces a more delicate, balanced and flavoursome cup.

As with any ingredient, fresher is better, and coffee is no exception. In fact, whole bean coffee has even more flavour and aroma than pre-ground coffee. This is due the fact that once coffee has been ground, a lot of the aromas get lost into the air.

For all these reasons, coffee shops insist of only using freshly ground coffee to produce their beverages. Freshly ground coffee stands up particularly well when enjoyed with milk, producing some of the world’s favourite coffee drinks.

The little extra you pay for ground coffee is well worth it. Also, preparing ground coffee doesn’t have to be an expensive affair when it comes to specialized equipment.

Coffee makers such as the AeroPress are some of the cheapest on the market and will last you a very long time indeed. Let’s take a look at two very economical setups for the home.

Ground coffee brewing setup on a budget

For their simplicity and price point, my two go-to coffee makers have to be the AeroPress and the Clever Dripper.


You may have heard of the AeroPress (Amazon link) as it’s become the international poster boy of good coffee. The AeroPress is almost as quick as instant, being able to produce a cup of coffee in as little as one minute.

The AeroPress is also capable of producing coffee with espresso-like qualities, which stand up so well when combined with milk.

The clean up is as simple as discarding the unbeatably cheap paper filter in the bin and rinsing the AeroPress under the tap.

Check out this article for more information on the AeroPress, or take a look at the glowing reviews and current price on Amazon now.

Clever Dripper

For those looking for the simplest coffee brewer on the market combined with the easiest clean-up ever, look no further than the Clever Dripper (Amazon link).

This coffee maker works in much the same way as the iconic French press, but the paper filter produces a cleaner cup that has a real clarity of flavour.

The Clever Dripper is, in my opinion, the best entry-level coffee maker out there. It’s constructed from non-toxic BPA-free plastic, meaning that it’s pretty much indestructable.

Check out the current price of the Clever Dripper on Amazon, and take your coffee experience to the next level.

If I’ve persuaded you enough to start enjoying the benefits of ground coffee, also take a look at the best coffees available on Amazon.

I’ve also put together a list of some of the finest coffee roasters in cities around the world, so make sure to check whether your city has been included.

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