Sudden Coffee (YC W17) – Instant coffee that doesn't suck

Hey HN! I’m Kalle, one of the founders at Sudden Coffee (https://www.suddencoffee.com). We make instant coffee and sell it through our website as a subscription.

I started working on this almost two years ago after my cafe business failed. I was frustrated by how unscalable and inconsistent selling good coffee is.

In 2015 I placed 9th in the World Barista Champs in Seattle. On the flight back to Helsinki I was desperate for caffeine and ordered a coffee which was horrendous. I started wondering what would be a better way than Aeropress + hand grinder combo to have great coffee on the go.

Instant coffee is liquid coffee that’s been dehydrated. It’s normally made with the worst beans that are roasted really dark and extracted up to 6 times at temperatures up to 180C and 15 bar pressure. As a result, they can reach 60% extraction yield. Next, the liquid is boiled down and finally dehydrated by spray drying it with hot air. This process results in the gnarly bitter, woody, rubbery instant we all know.

We start with good beans: currently from a co-op called Biftu Gudina in Ethiopia, roasted by 49th Parallel in Vancouver, BC. In the beginning we brewed the coffee by hand as espresso — I would literally spend 12 hours per day pulling shots. At one point we had a full-time person doing this.

Eventually, we developed our own fully-closed centrifugal brewing system that doesn’t allow for any aroma to escape. We extract the coffee at low temperatures (85-90C) to 21-23% extraction yield. As a result, we only get the good stuff — sweetness, fruitiness, acidity — and none of the bad stuff.

Also, we’ve developed our own freeze-drying technique that’s kind of equivalent to a server farm. Instead of having one enormous machine we have a bunch of small freeze dryers. This allows for greater control and shorter iteration cycle.

This might be too long already so I'll stop here. Looking forward to discussing the coffee business and great coffee in the thread!



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