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The simple answer: yes and no. It depends on what you mean by “instant.” For example, in years past, consumers have been taught to refer to soluble coffee as instant coffee. This, of course, is based on how long it takes to prepare a single cup of coffee (typically a few seconds after adding boiling water). K cups, the ground coffee-filled pods originally designed by Keurig, also make coffee within seconds of loading a cup into the machine. So in this sense… Yes, k cups are instant coffee.

What’s the Difference between Soluble & K Cup Coffee?

Original instant coffee is made up of crystals; depending on the manufacturer, products range from an eighth of an inch per granule to a fine powder. Either way, it’s prepared by freeze- or spray-drying coffee grounds that are designed to fully rehydrate and dissolve when mixed with boiling water.

Maud’s Gourmet Coffee Pods - 12 Flavor Variety Pack

Although instant coffee powder has been around since the late 1800s, in recent years there has been a growing concern about the negative effects it can have on one’s health; namely issues with reduced intestinal absorption and increased risk of bladder cancer. Studies show that with fresh coffee, brewed with the traditional drip method or with a Keurig cup, these health hazards are considerably reduced.

Unlike its soluble counterpart, coffee that’s inside a k cup is straight from roasted coffee grounds.

How Does a Keurig Coffee Machine Work?

Even though Keurig isn’t the first company to create instant coffee from ground coffee beans, thanks to their aggressive marketing, ease-of-use, and low-maintenance, they are the first to create mass appeal and become a household name.

Infographic: How K Cups Work

The reason Keurig’s pods also instantly prepare coffee is thanks to how finely ground the beans are. This allows the coffee to brew at a much quicker rate than a standard coffee maker; similarly to an espresso machine.