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Sudden Coffee uses freeze-dried beans to make instant brew that doesn’t suck

Why it matters to you

Who says instant coffee has to be bad coffee? Certainly not the team behind Sudden Coffee, which includes one of the world's best baristas.

Instant coffee has become synonymous with bad coffee, but there’s a new company that’s hoping to change that. Meet Sudden Coffee, a startup that has three goals — to ensure everyone has access to great coffee, to improve the lives of coffee producers, and to use technology and coffee to make people feel good. Their ambitions are lofty, but co-founders Kalle Freese (who was named the ninth best barista in the world in 2015) and Joshua Zloof (an engineer with a passion for user experience) think they’ve figured out how to make it work.

At its core, Sudden Coffee is similar to what we think of today as instant coffee. Yes, it’s a powder, and yes, you just add water, but no, it doesn’t taste like something you want to instantly spit out. As Freese told TechCrunch, the problem with much of the instant coffee currently on the market begins at the beginning. “They start with bad coffee, roast it really dark, then extract it twice, which kind of blew my mind,” Freese explained. “About 60 percent of the bean’s mass is extracted, and normally you don’t even want half that. You get a lot of these heavy, bitter, woody compounds.”

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So how is Sudden Coffee different? Well, for starters, the coffee actually comes from good beans. The company uses single-origin beans sourced from Vancouver, B.C. It’s then bulk brewed in a way that treats the ingredient with integrity. “We’re using a unique, fully closed centrifugal brewing system that doesn’t allow for any aroma to escape,” Freese told TechCrunch. “We also extract the coffee at low temperatures (85- to 90-degrees Celsius). As a result, we only get the good stuff — sweetness, fruitiness, acidity — and none of the bad stuff like bitterness and woodiness.”

And finally, Sudden Coffee has a unique freeze-drying technique that allows the company to avoid the notion of bulk processing, instead employing a host of small freeze dryers that treat each batch individually and respectfully. “We developed our own profiles for doing it in a way that preserves the flavor,” Freese said. “You have to find a balance between temperature, pressure, and drying time.”

Of course, Freese — respected barista that he is — knows that instant coffee, no matter how good, is never going to stand up to a fresh cup. But that’s not exactly the problem Sudden Coffee is trying to solve. Rather, the company says on its website, it’s really more of a replacement that comes in handy when you’re too tired or too busy to brew yourself something. It’s also meant to address the lack of good coffee in certain areas of the world.

“We have a lot of people who like good coffee, but live in a small city that has no place to get it,” Freese said. “We’re leveraging tech to deliver a better coffee experience to people who don’t have coffee shops.”

So if you’re interested in a quick fix, you can head over to Sudden Coffee’s website and get a shipment of eight cups for $19 (plus $3 shipping and handling).