In 1889, coffee and spice merchant Strang created his ‘Dry Hot-Air’ process to convert coffee into soluble granules and then set about patenting it in 1890 – one of the first ever applications of New Zealand’s new patent laws which had only just come into effect. ‘Strang’s Patent Soluble Dry Coffee-powder’ as it was called, had the advantage that it was easier and lighter to ship and had a good shelf life. He packaged it in tins, as he did with his other spice products, and set about marketing and distributing his new invention.
Like many inventions, there was some confusion as to the originator of instant coffee, and for many years a Japanese scientist called Satori Kato working in the USA in 1901 was given the credit for it. Following Strang's invention, others have created new and different ways of making instant coffee, with techniques such as free drying and spray drying being the most popular methods today.
Indeed, Strang's technique for creating instant coffee - sorry, soluble dry coffee powder - is no longer the favoured approach, with other mechanisms proving more efficient. At the time however, Strang's technique for creating coffee was new, and even the coffee snobs of the time were complimentary, with the Otago Daily Times of the day saying 'None of its natural fragrance is destroyed, as is undeniably the case with the vast majority of extracts and essences.'