With $ 7 lattes becoming the norm and coffee shops around every corner, it’s easy to become a coffee elitist. And if you imagine yourself a coffee snob, you can look beyond instant coffee blends. But instant coffee has made strides in recent years. And with new brands offering varieties and elevating the category, instant coffee deserves a second look. So we bring you a list of the best instant coffee brands on the market.
Maybe you are hiking and don’t want to pack extra brewing gear. Maybe you are working on the road and don’t have time to stop at cafes all day long. Or maybe you just like the ease at home. There are countless reasons why you might choose instant coffee over its brewed brethren. We don’t judge!
Whatever your reason for choosing instant coffee, some flavors are better than others. Here’s how eight popular instant coffee brands stacked up, ranked from worst to best.
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NescafÃ© Taster’s Choice: House blend
NescafÃ© is one of the most popular instant coffee brands in the world. It was introduced by the NestlÃ© company in the 1930s, and there have been countless mixes over the years. The Taster’s Choice line was introduced in 1966, so this is the one we had to try.
The 0.1 oz sachets are packed with 100% pure coffee. The house blend promises to be smooth and well balanced. After mixing the light blond granules in hot water, it produced an unpleasant bean smell. Fortunately, the taste was much less offensive.
NescafÃ© instant coffee doesn’t taste like cheap coffee (as you would expect), but adding flavored cream certainly wouldn’t hurt to make it better. Although the flavor is mild at first, it starts to taste more bitter as it cools, so you should drink it quickly.
$ 23.89 for 8 packs on Amazon
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Folgers Instant Coffee Crystals: Classic Roast
If the best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup, then you might be a fan of the brand’s instant coffee. Otherwise, well, you should probably look further down the list. After mixing a rounded teaspoon of brown granules with hot water, instant coffee produces a false plastic smell. However, the taste does not reflect the smell. It’s slightly sour, but not a bad cup of joe. Either way, instant coffee tastes better than regular brewed Folgers.
$ 15.97 for 16 ounces on Amazon
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Starbucks VIA Instant: Pike Place Roast
America’s Most Popular Coffee launched its Via Instant line in 2009. Instead of coffee granules, Starbucks Instant Coffee offers micro-ground coffee. The 100% Arabica teabags give off an earthy scent not unlike the infused Pike Place beans you might get in store.
The packaging indicates that the mixture contains notes of chocolate and toasted nuts, which are not exactly present when tasted. The coffee tastes almost powdery, which makes it slightly different from regular Pike Place. However, if you were on the go and couldn’t wait for the brewed coffee, this would be a decent alternative.
$ 4.99 for 8 packs on Amazon
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NescafÃ© ClÃ¡sico: black roast
With so many varieties of NescafÃ©, we wanted to test more than one. And it’s a good thing we did because the ClÃ¡sico strain was a much better competitor than Taster’s Choice.
A teaspoon of these dark granules mix with hot water to create a typical coffee aroma. There is a slight hint of smoke, but otherwise you wouldn’t be able to identify that this is an instant cup of coffee from the real thing. The taste is slightly artificial but significantly better than Taster’s Choice.
Overall this instant coffee isn’t that great, but it’s not that great either. Let’s just say if someone on your camping team bought this and you had no other choice, you had better drink it to get your morning beer.
$ 4.98 on Amazon
Trader Joe’s 100% Colombian Instant Coffee
The label on the glass jar of Trader Joe’s Instant Coffee says it “tastes incredibly close to a freshly brewed cup of coffee in an instant.” And we couldn’t think of a more precise description of the result here.
The directions say to take a heaping teaspoon (or more or less for taste) and mix with hot water. The dark granules produce an almost tasty smell. But once you sip the coffee, you won’t notice that bean aroma. It is one of the sweetest flavors of the bunch. There is no noticeable bitterness and it is a perfectly drinkable cup.
11 $ on Amazon
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Joe Coffee Company Specialty Instant Coffee: The Daily House Blend
A New York favorite, Joe Coffee Company created an instant coffee blend with Swift Cup Coffee so coffee lovers in the United States can enjoy their brews.
Each packet is filled with an incredibly fine powder that creates a coffee that’s a bit thicker than the others on this list. It takes a little more stirring to mix everything together. The smell is like a “normal” cup of coffee, but the taste is incredibly strong.
If you like strong black coffee, this is the instant variety for you. If you like your coffee a little less bold, you might want to add water or cream.
$ 18 for 6 sachets at Joe Coffee Company
CafÃ© Bustelo Instant Coffee: Espresso
Of all the coffees on this list, CafÃ© Bustelo’s version is the most similar to its regular ground coffee used for brewing. The popular coffee brand’s signature blend is made in the espresso style, a Cuban method that allows for a bolder, richer flavor. And this is also true in the instant pack.
The black powder mixes with hot water to create an incredibly smooth cup of coffee. It’s a strong taste, without being too bitter or too fatty. It tastes very slightly more artificial than the regular version, but if you add a pinch of sugar or cream, you probably won’t notice it.
$ 10.73 for 6 packs on Amazon
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If you’re new to instant coffee, you’ve probably never heard of Waka Coffee. The company only makes one thing: instant coffee. Used for caffeinated and decaffeinated varieties, this brand’s special method is the freeze-drying of Colombian 100% Arabica coffee.
The result is a smooth and perfectly smooth coffee. There is no distinct smell or taste other than what you would expect from a good cup of joe. It’s strong enough to hold a bit of cream and sugar, but it’s not so daring that you couldn’t drink it dark, either. Give it a try and you won’t have to worry about home brewed coffee anymore.
$ 11.99 for 8 packs on Amazon
Now that you know the best instant coffee options, there are plenty of solutions for those days when you’re in a hurry. You could just forgo your coffee maker with all of these options.
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