The Ins and Outs of 3 in 1 Instant Coffee

If you’re a coffee lover, you probably can’t imagine starting your day without that perfect cup of joe. Instant three-in-one coffee sachets have become a popular choice for many, offering a quick and convenient way to satisfy your caffeine craving. But have you ever wondered what exactly goes into these instant coffee mixes and whether they are the best choice for your health? In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the world of three-in-one instant coffee, exploring its production process, ingredients, caffeine levels, and potential health implications. We’ll also provide tips to optimize your instant coffee experience and make it a healthier and more flavorful treat.

The Rise of Three-in-One Instant Coffee: From Tongsa Foods to Household Staple

The concept of three-in-one instant coffee traces its roots back to 1976 when the Korean food brand, Tongsa Foods, introduced the first-ever coffee, sugar, and powdered cream mixture. It wasn’t until the late 1980s that Singaporean company Super created their own version of three-in-one coffee, making it widely available in the country. Since then, instant coffee, including the beloved three-in-one sachets, has become a household staple in Singapore. With over 30 brands to choose from, three-in-one instant coffee holds a significant 82% share of the revenue generated from all types of coffee beverages in the nation. Its popularity stems from its unparalleled convenience and ease of preparation, making it a favorite among coffee enthusiasts seeking a quick caffeine fix without the need for complicated equipment or brewing processes.

The Making of Three-in-One Instant Coffee: From Beans to Powdered Mix

The secret behind the convenience of three-in-one instant coffee lies in its production process. At coffee factories like Killeny, liquid coffee undergoes the spray-drying process to turn it into soluble powder. This involves reducing liquid coffee into a concentrate and then spraying it into a stream of hot air, causing the droplets to dry and transform into fine coffee powder. The resulting powder is different from regular coffee beans, as it dissolves easily in hot water, producing an aromatic cup of coffee in an instant. Once the coffee powder is ready, it is blended with sugar and creamer using a ribbon blender, ensuring that all the ingredients mix uniformly. After blending, the mixture is packaged into individual sachets, making it convenient for consumers to prepare their coffee by simply adding hot water.

Unraveling the Additives: Emulsifiers, Stabilizers, and Anti-caking Agents

Three-in-one instant coffee often contains various additives to enhance its texture, flavor, and shelf life. Emulsifiers play a crucial role in preventing the separation of fat or oil from the water-based coffee mixture. As coffee and milk naturally contain fat, emulsifiers ensure that the components remain well mixed, preventing any undesirable layer of fat from forming on the surface. Stabilizers, on the other hand, maintain the overall stability of the coffee mixture, preventing the sedimentation of different ingredients and ensuring a consistent texture throughout the shelf life of the product. Anti-caking agents are added to prevent the coffee powder from clumping together due to moisture absorption, thus ensuring a smooth and free-flowing powder even after extended storage. While some consumers might be concerned about the presence of these additives, their usage is strictly regulated, and their quantities are kept minimal to ensure they have no harmful effects on human health.

Sugar and Fat Content Concerns: Choosing Healthier Alternatives

One of the primary concerns regarding three-in-one instant coffee lies in its sugar and fat content. Creamers used in these mixes often contain hydrogenated fats to stabilize the product and prevent rancidity. However, the hydrogenation process can lead to unhealthy trans fats, which are detrimental to cardiovascular health. To mitigate these concerns, consumers can opt for healthier alternatives, such as low-fat or non-fat creamers. Additionally, reducing the sugar content can help manage calorie intake, and selecting instant coffee mixes with the Singapore Health Promotion Board symbol ensures lower sugar content, with some options containing up to 50% less sugar. For those with a sweet tooth, natural intense sweeteners like stevia can be used to add sweetness without adding calories.

Caffeine Levels in Three-in-One Coffee: How Does It Compare?

Caffeine is a key component of coffee that provides its stimulating effects. On average, three-in-one instant coffee contains about 60.9 milligrams of caffeine per 100 milliliters, making it higher in caffeine content compared to instant black coffee and commercial coffee in cans or bottles. However, specialty ready-to-drink coffee from cafes boasts the highest caffeine content, with over 95 milligrams per 100 milliliters. The difference in caffeine levels can be attributed to the coffee blend used in each type of coffee. Ready-to-drink specialty coffee typically contains 100% coffee beans, resulting in higher caffeine levels, while three-in-one instant coffee may include fillers like corn or chickpeas, affecting the overall caffeine content.

Tips for a Perfect and Healthier Cup of Instant Coffee

To optimize your instant coffee experience, consider brewing instant black coffee and customizing it to your taste preferences. Use hot water, but not boiling, to extract a milder, sweeter flavor profile. Pour the coffee slowly, as a slow pour allows for more flavors to be extracted, leading to a more enjoyable cup. Drip bags, a newer innovation in instant coffee, offer an enhanced coffee experience. These bags contain coffee grounds set further away from the cup, allowing for a slower pour and better flavor extraction. When adding sugar and milk, use brown or refined sugar for a more flavorful cup, and opt for hot milk to maintain a sweeter taste without drastic temperature changes.


Three-in-one instant coffee provides unparalleled convenience for coffee lovers, but it’s essential to understand its production process, ingredients, and caffeine levels. By making informed choices, such as selecting healthier alternatives, reducing sugar intake, and customizing your coffee preparation, you can enjoy a perfect and healthier cup of instant coffee. Moderating your caffeine consumption and savoring every sip responsibly will ensure that your daily coffee ritual remains a delightful experience, both for your taste buds and your overall well-being.