Nescafé and Grindsmith want to challenge what we consider the traditional boundaries of craft coffee. In February this year, the UK and Ireland’s first instant craft coffee was launched, created by the partnership of Nescafé Azera and Grindsmith Coffee Roasters. Customers can easily brew their own cup of craft coffee, without compromising quality or traceability, in an instant, in the comfort of their own homes.

This new blend, named Explorer, scored 82 on the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) scale. The SCA, a non-profit membership-based organisation, representing thousands of coffee professionals, has a strict practice of coffee grading.

In order to be recognised as craft or speciality, coffee has to score at least 80 out of 100. According to Nescafé, Explorer is the only instant coffee that meets the requirements. The team at Grindsmith, a Manchester-based independent speciality coffee roaster, noted chocolate and cherry flavours in the rich blend, which uses Arabica beans and the prized Quindio bean from Brazil and Colombia.

The two companies behind the instant craft coffee blend, have quite the reputation. The Nescafé Azera range is known for its barista-style instant coffee, while Grindsmith is a popular chain of speciality coffee shops that ethically source beans from farms in three major coffee-growing regions. The partnership of these two is the ideal achievement, where instant meets craft coffee, but one question remains: can instant coffee ever really be considered craft?

Craft coffee originated from small coffee roasters trying to make a difference through roasting experiments, to make their own unique flavour profiles. Over the last five years, sales from craft coffee shops grew by 24%. Customers want to know what goes into their cup of joe, — everything from where the beans came from, to the processes, including roasting and brewing.

With that being said, it might seem like a stretch for instant coffee to be able to provide the same intimate experience of a barista-made cup of craft coffee, even if the flavours are perfectly matched.

This third wave of coffee demands more, — it demands relationships, from the start of the chain of coffee farmers to the end of consumers. Modern-day coffee connoisseurs look for a story behind the roast they are having. It seems rather unlikely, at least at the moment, that instant coffee can bring the same experience or level of satisfaction that we can get from our local craft coffee shop.

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