Freeze-dried coffee dissolves in a mug of hot water on grey stone table

What Is Freeze-Dried Coffee? Here’s All You Need to Know

Do you love the taste of freshly brewed coffee but don’t have the time to make it every morning? Well, you’re not alone. Luckily, freeze-dried coffee offers the perfect blend of convenience and flavor.

But what is freeze-dried coffee exactly?

In short, it requires freezing brewed coffee and then removing the water through sublimation. This process gives you a more delicious and authentic alternative to other types of instant coffee.

In this guide, you’ll learn how freeze-dried coffee is made, its benefits, and how different it is from normal instant coffee. You’ll also get the answers to a few questions that could be circling your perpetually caffeinated mind

The Process of Freeze-Drying Coffee

Freeze-drying coffee is a somewhat complex process. So, let’s break it down into four main steps:

Step 1: Extraction

The first step in making freeze-dried coffee is to extract the flavor from the beans. To do this, brew the coffee and then concentrate the liquid under high pressure. This is important because it helps to preserve the flavor and aroma of the coffee.

Manufacturers can concentrate the coffee liquid using a variety of methods. Yet, the most common way is to heat the coffee liquid above the boiling point until it’s reduced to about 40% of its original volume.

This method offers ideal coffee flavor extraction from the beans, leading to a highly concentrated coffee extract.

Step 2: Freezing

Next, we freeze the concentrated coffee in a vacuum chamber to prevent the formation of large ice crystals. These ice crystals can mess with the coffee flavor and aroma, which is why the coffee is placed at a temperature of about -40 degrees Fahrenheit.

The vacuum chamber is essential in the freeze-drying process because it also stops the coffee from coming into contact with oxygen. Without this chamber, the coffee flavor and aroma will deteriorate.

Step 3: Sublimation

Now it’s time to remove the water from the frozen coffee.

This is only possible by sublimation—the process of a solid turning directly into a gas without passing through the liquid state first. Again, a vacuum chamber creates the conditions necessary for sublimation to occur.

The sublimation process takes several hours to complete. During this process, the water molecules in the frozen coffee slowly turn into a gas and then escape from the vacuum chamber. 

The coffee solids are left behind, and they are now freeze-dried coffee.

Step 4: Dry Cleaning

The final step is to dry the coffee by removing any remaining moisture from the coffee granules.

At this stage, the coffee is heated to 104–122 degrees Fahrenheit to achieve that goal. Afterward, the coffee undergoes a cooling process, which finally makes it ready for packaging, distribution, and sale across the nation.

What Makes Freeze-Dried Coffee So Special?

Ultimately, you get to decided how special it is to YOU. But here are a few reasons why coffee lovers enjoy freeze-dried coffee:

Rich Flavor and Aroma

Freeze-dried coffee is the king of instant coffees in terms of flavor and aroma. That’s because the freeze-drying process preserves the coffee’s volatile compounds, which are responsible for its delicious taste and smell. 

Close up of freeze dried instant coffee on tea spoon with glass coffee cup background

These compounds can easily be destroyed by heat or oxidation, but the freeze-drying process keeps that from happening.

Long Shelf Life

Freeze-dried coffee is a bit like a fine wine: it only gets better with age. 

The freeze-drying process removes the water from the coffee, which prevents the growth of bacteria and mold. In other words, you can store this type of coffee for up to 20 years without losing its flavor or aroma. That is, of course, if the storing conditions are optimal.

So, if you’re looking for a cup of coffee that will still taste great in 2043 and beyond, reach for the freeze-dried stuff.

RELATED: How long is espresso good for?

Easy to Prepare

No need to fuss with filters and wait for a pot to brew. Freeze-dried coffee can be made in a snap. Just add hot water, stir, and voila! You’ve got a delicious, cockle-warming cup of coffee in seconds. 

And due to its supreme convenience, you can always have a cup of freeze-dried coffee. Whether you’re on the go, in the wilderness, or just don’t feel like making a whole pot of coffee, freeze-dried coffee is the perfect solution.


Freeze-dried coffee is seriously budget-friendly. That’s because the freeze-drying process is a more efficient way to preserve coffee than other methods, such as spray drying. Less coffee is needed to make freeze-dried coffee, which ultimately lowers the cost.

Freeze-dried coffee is much more affordable than regular coffee that you brew yourself.

How Is Freeze-Dried Coffee Different From Spray-Dried Coffee?

Compared to spray-dried coffee, freeze-dried coffee has a richer, more flavorful taste thanks to the way it’s processed. It also has a more complex aroma.

Spray-dried coffee yields a slightly weaker, more watery flavor. In the spray-drying process, coffee beans are brewed and then ground, and the ground coffee is then sprayed into a chamber where it faces a stream of hot air. 

The water in spray-dried coffee evaporates, leaving behind a powder. Unfortunately, many of the coffee’s authentic notes dissipate in the process, which makes spray-dried coffee inferior to its freeze-dried cousin.

How Is Freeze-Dried Coffee Different From Regular Instant Coffee?

Freeze-dried coffee and regular instant coffee are both types of dehydrated coffee, but they’re made using different processes. 

As previously described, freeze-dried coffee is made by freezing brewed coffee and then sublimating the water. Alternatively, regular instant coffee is prepared by brewing coffee and then spray-drying it, which exposes the coffee to hot air to evaporate the water.

Basically, regular instant coffee is just another term for spray-dried coffee. So, you can expect the same differences in taste richness and aroma complexity compared to freeze-dried coffee.

A glass jar of freeze-dried coffee

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best way to make freeze-dried coffee at home?

The best way to make freeze-dried coffee is to add 1 teaspoon of coffee to 6 ounces of hot water. After that, stir until the coffee dissolves. 

You can also add milk, sugar, or other ingredients to enhance the taste. Or you may experiment with different instant coffee drink recipes if you’re not a fan of a classic cup of coffee.

How do you store freeze-dried coffee properly?

Ideally, you should store freeze-dried coffee in an airtight container in a cool, dark place to preserve the flavor of the coffee for as long as possible. 

Freeze-dried coffee can stay good for years if you keep it away from moisture and other elements that might affect its taste and smell.

Where can you find freeze-dried coffee?

Freeze-dried coffee is available at most grocery stores, as well as online retailers. Some popular brands of freeze-dried coffee include Folgers, Nescafé, Maxwell House, and Starbucks. We recommend this organic freeze-dried instant coffee from Mount Hagen.

What are the drawbacks of freeze-dried coffee?

One drawback about the freeze-drying process is that it can sometimes damage the coffee’s delicate flavors. Additionally, some people find that freeze-dried coffee has a slightly grainy texture.

Is freeze-dried coffee good for you?

Freeze-dried coffee is generally considered to be a healthy beverage. It is rich in antioxidants, which – as you probably know – can help protect your cells from damage.

In addition, consuming a moderate amount of coffee regularly has been linked to some health benefits, including reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, and more.

Still, coffee can also produce some negative side effects, such as anxiety, insomnia, and nausea. Drink coffee in moderation and listen to your body.

What is the nutritional value of freeze-dried coffee?

Freeze-dried coffee has a nice amount of caffeine, providing about 60 milligrams per teaspoon. However, it’s not a significant source of other nutrients according to the following list:

  • Calories: 2
  • Protein: 0.2 grams
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 0.5 grams

Just remember that the nutritional value of freeze-dried coffee can vary depending on the brand and type of coffee.

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