Coffee is one of the most versatile drinks and you can easily make coffee without a coffee machine.
Not everyone wants to resort to cowboy coffee or homemade filters, though, and not everyone wants to buy an espresso machine, a coffee maker, or a latte and cappuccino machine either.
So, if you don’t want the hassle of a semi-automatic machine and you can’t stretch to a Nespresso machine, how about instant coffee?
Well, you might be surprised to know that the best tasting instant coffee comes somewhere close to coffee you make in a moka pot. What counts is making sure you choose some of this and not some of the low-quality instant flooding the market and giving freeze-dried coffee a bad name.
Over the past year, sales of instant coffee have spiked with people spending more time at home and looking to widen their repertoire for making coffee.
Here are the most common reasons for using instant coffee rather than a more authentic brewing method:
As you can see, there’s a reason that half of all green coffee beans end up used for instant coffee.
Now, if you’re aiming to find the best tasting instant coffee, focus on these elements to make that easier on yourself:
So, if you keep these pointers in mind when you’re looking for the best tasting instant coffee, you should have no problem finding the right one for you and your family.
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The 11 Best Tasting Instant Coffee
1. Our #1 Pick:Starbucks Via Instant Iced Coffee
First up and our overall favorite in today’s collection of the best tasting instant coffee comes from powerhouse brand Starbucks.
This box contains 6 packs of iced coffee allowing you to enjoy a crisp and refreshing caffeinated drink all year round.
The Via Instant line comes with a huge choice of flavors, with this ice coffee blend sweetened with cane sugar. If you’re not partial to a sweet sensation, this is not the best bet for you.
While the sweetness might polarize opinion, the medium roast used for this iced coffee should appeal to most tastes. You get a smooth but balanced drink with no discernible bitterness.
The beans used are all arabica, so you’ll get none of the cheaper and cruder robusta beans in the mix here.
Kiss goodbye to the grinder and the coffee machine and usher in gourmet coffee in seconds flat. Starbucks proves here that not all instant is a write-off.
2. Mount Hagen Freeze-Dried Instant Coffee
Mount Hagen is one of the most reputable names in the instant coffee space. While this freeze-dried instant certainly isn’t your cheapest option, when was the last time buying the cheapest coffee you could find worked out for you?
This coffee is Fair Trade, so you can buy with a clear conscience and the knowledge the growers will be getting a fair price while you get a lip-smacking instant. Organic and non-GMO, you’ll be getting everything you want and nothing you don’t here.
Like most instant coffees, the medium roast beans should appeal to most palates, and the taste of this coffee is surprisingly rich and full-bodied for an instant.
You get a pack of 2 jars in this bundle, although you can pick up larger value-packs with 6 jars once you’ve established that you like the taste of this stuff.
The only real drawback with this coffee is the slight bitterness that might put some people off. Overall, though, you’re getting one of the best tasting instant coffees from a brand you can rely on.
3. Starbucks Via Ready-Brew Colombia Coffee
Next up is another offering from Starbucks, again from the enduringly popular Via Instant line. How does this Colombian coffee shape up, then?
Well, by the standards of most instant coffee, this blend delivers a smooth yet deceptively rich taste, and you’ll also get plenty of aroma here.
The medium roast is caffeinated and packs a reasonable punch without being overpoweringly strong.
These instant sachets work well for hot or iced coffee, giving you great flexibility as well as single-serve convenience. The small sachets are ideal for taking to work out when you’re out somewhere for the day, and they also work well in the home kitchen.
You get great value here as well with 50 sachets of single-serve convenience at a pretty reasonable price point.
For tasty and practically instant coffee with just a faint trace of nuttiness, Starbucks hits another home run here. The only gripes we could find among a sea of positive user testimony concerns quality control issues, so check the contents of your delivery closely.
4. Nescafe Taster’s Choice Instant Coffee
Many people want a drinkable instant coffee that also appeals to most guests. Light roasts make a great solution, so how does Nescafé’s Taster’s Choice stand and fall?
As you would expect from a house blend, this instant coffee is not too strong and overpowering. As a light roast, though, Taster’s Choice is also heavily caffeinated – light roasts contain more caffeine than darker roasts, even though this might seem counterintuitive.
The glass jar ensures you’ll get over 100 cups of coffee without freshness being impaired. This quantity is based on making 6oz cups of joe.
This brand has become increasingly focused on sustainability over the years, so you can do your part for the planet and the coffee growers as well as enjoying top-notch instant coffee at an affordable price point. This stuff doesn’t need to replace freshly-made coffee, but it can be a welcome addition to your arsenal.
5. Kava Acid-Neutralized Instant Coffee
As we reach the midpoint of our instant coffee reviews, we have something slightly different from Kava.
This is coffee made from real coffee beans, but with fully 90% of the acid neutralized during production. Whether you suffer from acid reflux or you’re just looking for a low-acidity coffee for daily drinking, Kava delivers the perfect solution.
The value pack included 3 jars of the 4oz coffee, giving you hundreds of servings of coffee without any of the acidity or bitterness commonly associated with instant.
While you get this stripped from the coffee, you’ll be surprised at the depth of the body and the richness of the flavor. It might not be a shot of authentic espresso, but you can certainly get your day started with a nice kick if you opt for some Kava instant.
6. Nescafé Azera Americano Instant Coffee
For anyone who feels instant coffee is always a pale imitation of the real thing, we suggest trying some Nescafé Azera. This is the tastiest instant blend offered from this well-established brand, so how does it shape up?
Well, unlike most granulated instant coffee, the consistency here is like a fine powder. This dissolves quickly and easily, leaving a noticeable crema on top of your americano.
Although this is not the cheapest instant out there, a little goes a long way.
The key selling point with this blend is the way instant coffee is blended with a small quantity of freshly ground coffee, giving you a taste sensation not normally associated with instant coffee.
This is a dark roast, and you can make delicious americano that tastes equally good with or without milk. Unlike some instants, you won’t get that overpowering bitterness either.
Even if you still make coffee the old-fashioned way – and you should! – there is always a place for a jar of instant in the cupboard. Why not make it Nescafé Azera and give yourself a treat?
7. Four Sigmatic Foods Mushroom Instant Coffee
Next up is some instant coffee that won’t appeal to everyone and is priced at a premium. Is this mushroom-based blend worth your time or nothing but marketing hype?
The answer lays somewhere in between.
First up, you get coffee made from 100% arabica beans, so you’re off to a strong start. The medium roast should appeal to most tastes.
The key selling point here is the two types of mushrooms used, with a laundry list of claimed health benefits. Some users report feeling sharper focus and others claim they didn’t feel much more effect than from a regular cup of joe.
Either way, you’ll get a depth of flavor from the Chaga and lion’s mane mushrooms, as well as rhodiola root, an adaptogen with potential health benefits.
Fair Trade and organic, you can buy this coffee knowing it not only tastes great, but is also sustainable and fair for all parties.
8. Café Altura Freeze-Dried Organic Instant Coffee
Café Altura serves up a traditional organic instant coffee that’s well worth popping on your shortlist.
Another medium roast – the most common option by far for instant coffee – you’ll get pure arabica beans for a taste sensation, even if you’re not using a grinder and coffee machine.
Organic and non-GMO, this coffee is also certified Fair Trade, allowing you to buy with a clean conscience.
You get a couple of jars bundled, each containing up to 60 servings of coffee, depending on how heavy-handed you are when serving.
Not only does this coffee taste pretty good in the cup, it also makes a great choice if you need some powdered coffee for baking.
You will need to take a gamble on this coffee as no returns are allowed, but there is nothing outlandish about the taste or aroma likely to put you off, so you’ll be making a fairly safe bet.
9. WAKA Quality Instant Coffee
WAKA makes some of the best tasting instant coffee you can find, so how does this particular blend stand and fall?
Off the bat, you’ll get an all-arabica blend, eliminating the cheaper robusta beans used in a lot of instant coffee. Robusta beans might be cheaper, but they are also inferior in terms of taste.
The single-serve sachets work well at home or for travel purposes. Each of the packs contains 8 sachets, giving you awesome freeze-dried coffee in seconds flat.
Both the flavor and the aroma of the medium roast arabica beans are preserved by the freeze-drying process, so you’ll get a strong and full-bodied coffee, even though you won’t be making it from scratch with freshly ground beans.
All the coffee is packaged in the United States, so you can buy with complete confidence and the knowledge you’ll be upping your instant coffee game substantially.
This coffee is ideal served hot, but it doesn’t make the smoothest fit for iced coffee, so consider the Starbucks we kicked off with instead if you prefer your coffee cold.
10. Folgers Classic Instant Roast
No collection of the best tasting instant coffee is complete without an entry from legendary brand Folgers.
You can make over a hundred cups of joe from this 8oz container, with the neat flip-top lid keeping it fresher for longer while promoting easy access.
This is a classic medium roast which is caffeinated and quite aromatic, as well as reasonably flavorful.
As with all instant coffee, you’ll need to be reasonable with your expectations – you’ll never rival the results of freshly ground coffee beans with instant – but you might be surprised at just how good this stuff tastes.
A few disgruntled consumers complain that this coffee doesn’t respond well to being used for whipped coffee, so you might want to rethink if you make lots of the stuff.
Overall, this is one of the best tasting instant coffees out there and well worth a place on your shortlist.
11. Jacobs Kronung Instant Coffee
Jacobs Kronung serves up a traditional dark roast in instant form, but is it any good?
As with all 7oz jars of coffee, you can yield around 100 standard-sized cups of joe, meaning you’re getting one of the cheapest ways of enjoying coffee at home. With this bundle, you get a pair of jars, further increasing value.
This is one of the more powerful blends in this line. The dark roast contains all-arabica beans, and while it contains less caffeine than a lighter roast, it has a more robust and punchier flavor profile.
While you won’t get a coffee that blows you away like a freshly-made artisan alternative, there is nothing much to complain about here, and we certainly can’t say that for many instant coffees.
This blend does not have the same smoothness as the Azera above – our overall favorite – and there is also some bitterness evident. Does this sound like the right fit for you?
Arabica beans are the highest quality beans. Robusta beans are cheaper and of inferior quality. These are often used in instant coffees, and the resulting taste won’t rival that of coffee made from arabica beans. Whether you’re drinking instant coffee or grinding beans before brewing, arabica is the best bet.
2) Which is the best type of roast for instant coffee?
Medium roasts are the most commonly used for instant coffee, although light roasts also work well. You don’t find many dark roast instants, but we review one for you today if you fancy something extra-dark.
3) Does instant coffee contain much caffeine?
The caffeine content of coffee will vary considerably from brand to brand. The roast is also a factor, as well as how much coffee you put in your cup. As a rough guideline, instant coffee contains 26mg of caffeine per 100g of coffee granules.
4) Can you find instant coffee that’s decaffeinated?
Yes you can, and we review some decaf options for you above.
5) Is the water temperature critical when making instant coffee?
Heat your water to between 195F and 205F. If you don’t have a thermometer, boil the kettle and allow it to sit for 30 seconds. The water will now be the optimum temperature for making coffee. With instant coffee, the vast bulk of the flavor is already baked in, so the temperature of the water will not have the same impact as with other brewing methods like pour-over.
6) How does instant coffee differ from regular coffee?
The main differences are the production method, the caffeine content, the taste, the aroma, and the nutritional profile. The key draw of instant coffee is a long shelf-life and near-instant preparation. Instant coffee typically has less caffeine than brewed coffee made from freshly ground beans
7) Is it dangerous to consume too much caffeine?
It is inadvisable to consume more than 400mg of caffeine daily, 2 or 3 regular cups. Drink more than this and the caffeine levels can lead to insomnia, anxiety, high blood pressure, migraines, and digestive issues.
8) How can I improve the taste of instant coffee?
Use bottled or filtered water. Consider adding some sugar, milk, or creamer. Experiment with flavored syrups to get a tastier end result in your cup, even if you’re relying on the convenience of instant coffee.
We hope today’s guide to the best tasting instant coffee has shown you that not all freeze-dried instant tastes abominable.
Whether you’re looking for convenience first and foremost or you’re looking for coffee you can use when cooking, instant has a place and you now have a handful of great options delivering more taste and aroma than the average jar of instant coffee.
All that remains to do now is pick which one best suits and you can give the espresso machine a break.
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