Credit: Sudden Coffee

Instant coffee is not a celebrated food item. It’s cheap and convenient but that’s where the accolades end – which made a perfect challenge for entrepreneurs Kalle Freese and Joshua Zloof to tackle with their new startup. Sudden Coffee launched with the mission to find new ways and technologies that could make instant coffee better. Why?

Opportunity. Instant coffee is a $9.9 billion market according to a Research & Markets report released earlier this week. Instant coffee’s appeal is it’s accessibility to anyone. You only need a cup and some boiling water and you can enjoy a hot, caffeinated beverage. The problem is that dissolving powder into water does not produce anywhere near the same flavors and textures as traditional brewing methods.

So Freese, the 9th best barista in the world (no big deal) and Zloof, a food entrepreneur, set out to reinvent the process of making instant coffee grounds and creating a product that rivals even the best hipster coffee house brews.

TechCrunch talks with the founders (and does a taste test) about how exactly they plan to change the taste and quality of instant coffee. Their first not-so-secret tool is sourcing high-quality coffee beans to start. But then they work to ensure the extraction process doesn’t mess up the flavors of the beans, basically by using a cold(er) brewing method in a centrifugal system. This allows for a sweeter, less bitter brew. They then developed a unique freeze-dry technique that allows them to process lots of coffee at a time without compromising the end product.

TechCrunch’s taste test fell a little short of the promise, though it did outperform the standard instant coffee by a large margin but did not do the same with standard brew, according to the writer. The VCs who vetted and ultimately invested in Sudden had much more glowing things to say in their Medium post about the funding, supposedly testing it on friends and family with extremely positive results.

Sudden just closed on a $2.7 million round of funding in December 2016 led by CRV and was just accepted as the second-ever food brand allowed into the coveted Y Combinator startup accelerator. It seems the instant coffee market is indeed about to change, hopefully for the better.

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