With the global coffee shop takeover, it can seem like the humble instant coffee is going out of fashion, and you’d be more likely to ask for a long macchiato than a mug of plain old medium roast. Perhaps your morning wake-up routine now sees you spending precious minutes hovering over your new all-singing, all-dancing espresso machine when deep down, you’d be happy to just pop the kettle on and spoon out a cup of good old powdered, fast ‘n’ easy. Or have you already written off instant as a poor cousin of the high tech machine-brewed coffee ground?
But wait, before you turn away at the thought of freeze-dried coffee, we’ve something important to tell you. Instant coffee doesn’t have to be a cardboard flavored brew that you immediately regret drinking, there’s a whole new raft of super-tasting and super-quick instants that are giving the baristas a run for their money. So, put that kettle on, and get that cup and spoon ready…we’ve got 10 of the very best instant coffees to show you.
The Best Instant Coffee
Ok, this isn’t pure coffee bean as such but for a review curveball, we’ve added in this rather tasty instant coffee and mushroom mash up from organic gurus, Four Sigmatic.
Mixing 100% organic Arabica coffee beans with lion’s mane and chaga mushroom powder may seem an unusual combination but trust us, there’s no mushroomy taste, just a totally passable coffee with less caffeine than a typical instant brew. You also get, say Four Sigmatic, a host of health benefits, including boosted focus and concentration as well as immune support. Plus, there’s added rhodiola root to tame any stress. While there’s nothing magic about the mushrooms, they are straight up funghis that help to create a well-rounded coffee for when you need some instant energizing.
Organic blend of Arabica beans and mushroom powder
Boosts concentration and supports the immune system
Half the caffeine than normal instant coffee
Ideal for vegan, paleo, keto, dairy-free or gluten-free diets
- BrandFour Sigma Foods
- Weight0.96 oz
If you are going to do a review of the best instant coffees, then there’s no way to make a list without this popular brand. With over 80 years in the ground coffee and instant business, there’s no arguing with their expertise and so it is the premium flavor of Nescafe’s Choice Blend that comes in as our instant coffee Best Choice.
If you want the reliability of a mild roast instant that manages to maintain the refined and well-balanced flavor of the best Arabica beans to help you start the day, then look no further. Smooth and delicious. If you love coffee, make sure you also check our guide to the best coffee pod machines.
Mildly roasted for a refined, well-balanced flavor
Glass jar locks in freshness and aroma
Made with responsibly sourced beans
Each jar makes up to 105 cups
- Weight14.1 oz
Bring the high street barista instantly into your home with our Premium Choice from the ubiquitous Starbucks. The team that loves the coffee bean has used only 100% Arabica to create a tastebud-tickling quality coffee that packs a nicely balanced flavor hit to get your day off to a great start. All without the queue at the coffee shop.
The VIA Decaf Italian Roast is deliciously dark and deep, hitting you with a strong yet subtly sweet roast bean flavor without losing any of its smoothness or aroma. With 50 packets per box, this is one instant coffee to always have ready in the cupboard, for when you have guests as it is also end-of-a-dinner party good. So, pop on that kettle, get out the best China and smile as you enjoy a totally premium instant.
100% Arabica beans, naturally decaffeinated
Smooth and rich, sweet roasted flavor
Fresh-sealed in individual sachets
Just add hot water and stir for a barista blend
- Weight8.3 oz
For a double-dose of conscience in your coffee, opt for Mount Hagen’s freeze dried instant that uses only organic and Fairtrade-sourced coffee beans from their namesake’s home island, Papua New Guinea. For their Fairtrade credentials alone, they would have our vote, but this instant coffee also tastes great, with a softly rich and smooth flavor that’s matched by its fresh, wake-up aroma. Supplied in a tight-sealed glass jar, store it well and this lovely instant will keep its premium grade coffee promise right to the very last granule.
100% Fairtrade organic coffee beans
Comes in a glass jar to lock in its flavor
Each jar provides around 60 servings
Tight seal, click on the lid to keep it fresh
- BrandMount Hagen
- Weight3.52 oz
Unlike many of the other products in our best instant coffee review, this tasty coffee from G7 is created via a patented dry roast process that does not see the coffee beans pre-brewed, freeze-dried or concentrated. However they do it, the result is a great textured instant coffee granule that morphs with hot water into a nice tasting coffee. Plus, it comes complete with creamer and sugar to give you the three-in-one instant package.
There is a distinct aroma to this Vietnamese instant that could well divide opinion but get past that and you have a nicely balanced coffee to go. With each serving making up six ounces of coffee and packed in carry-friendly sachets, this is also a great coffee to take when traveling, out camping or in a flask for a long work commute. No use if you like your coffee sugarless and black though.
Patented dry roast process, no freeze drying
Comes complete with creamer and sugar
Travel-friendly 16g individual sachets
Nicely balanced, authentic taste
- BrandTrung Nguyen
- Weight3.8 lbs
Now to one of the US’s oldest and best-known coffee brands, Folgers…the staple of many home cupboards and workplace staff kitchens. Still roasted in New Orleans, Louisiana, their Instant Coffee Crystals is popular for a reason, and it’s not just pure convenience. It’s the classic roast flavor that has made it, well, a classic that dissolves instantly in hot water for a reassuringly familiar cup of coffee. It is a strong, rich flavor with some subtle bitter undertones to the full-bodied taste that gives just enough caffeine to revive and energize. Plus, it lasts nicely, with a flip-top lid to its jar to seal in the flavor, which also seals the deal as our review’s Best Value instant coffee.
100% pure coffee. Roasted in New Orleans, Louisiana
Just add water, stir and enjoy
Easy-open flip top lid seals in freshness
Use in recipes to add a rich coffee flavor
- Weight9.6 oz
One of the top-priced in our best instant coffee review, this German import promises a superior, freshly brewed flavor thanks to the freeze-dried process and its jar sealed packaging.
There’s no denying its fresh taste and the great medium flavor vibe but it may be a little light for some, especially if you prefer a richer, darker instant coffee. That aside, the Kronung is a very well-crafted instant made from 100% premium responsibly sourced beans and does pack a nice fresh brew power punch, making it a great go-to for a caffeine pick up, at home or at work. And the lid seal on the jar locks in nicely, to keep it freeze-dried fresh until you need another hit of instant.
Superior rich and flavorful blend
Made from responsibly sourced beans
Comes in a glass jar for freshness
Imported from Germany
- BrandJacob’s Coffee
- Weight2 lbs
Combining ethical trading, organic growing and a delicious ‘fresh brew’ taste, Café Altura’s freeze dried instant coffee is a winner in our eyes. Made from an exclusive blend of organic Arabica beans, sustainably grown by farmers from three continents which are then freeze-dried to keep in the smooth, rich flavor and aroma, this is a lovely instant coffee. 1-2 teaspoons per cup will give you that strong, smooth flavor you’d expect from a freshly ground bean and if its caffeine hit is too much, you can opt for the decaf version, without losing any taste.
Certified organic and also GMO free, this is a full-bodied freeze-dried instant coffee that quite rightly wears its ethical credentials on its sleeve.
100% organic, Fairtrade Arabica beans
Sourced from sustainable farming
Freeze-dried and jar sealed for freshness
Quality freshly brewed aroma and taste
- BrandCafe Altura
- Weight1.5 lbs
Here’s an old school coffee brand that is still keeping a pace with the demands of today’s instant coffee consumer with its tried and tested original blend formula. Meet Maxwell House Original Blend Instant Coffee!
A stalwart of the coffee world for well over 100 years, this is just the right level of rich medium roast and quality flavor you would expect from Maxwell House. To get the balance between strength and taste, they custom-roast every batch so you can drink a reassuringly consistent, quality instant that is perfect for making at home. Play around with the amount (1 – 2 spoons seem typical) to get the right depth and you’ll be convinced you have a cup of freshly brewed that has magically come out of a jar!
A rich medium roast instant coffee
Quick and easy to prepare
Easy to store jar helps to keep it fresh
Each jar makes up to 120 cups
- BrandMAXWELL HOUSE
- Weight1.5 lbs
For those days when only a strong espresso will do, then turn to Medaglia and their instant D’Oro Italian Roast will deliciously hit the sweet spot.
Seriously smooth, this award-winning instant espresso is blended from double-roasted coffee beans that deliver a rich, intoxicating flavor to transport you to the Italian Riviera in the time it takes to boil a kettle and stir. Its creamy flavor can also be used as a base for other continental coffees such as lattes and cappuccinos. Or, for a long black coffee, try mixing a couple of spoons with a few spoons of your regular coffee and brew in a coffee maker for a bold blend that will be a total crowd-pleaser. Versatile, authentic and delicious – what’s not to love?
Rich Italian roast with superior flavor
Ethically sourced Arabica beans
Comes in a resealable tin for extra freshness
Mix it up for lattes and barista-style coffees
- BrandMedaglia D’Oro
- Weight10.7 lbs
Eliminate that sharp taste you can get with some instants with this innovative coffee that neutralizes unwanted acidity for a smooth beverage that’s also kinder on your digestion. Kava have reduced acidity in this instant coffee by 90% – so what does that mean, for both you and for its taste?
It’s certainly less bitter – a problem with some instants due to the beans used and the freeze or cold spray processing. In fact, Kava claim it is 15 times less acidic than other leading instant coffee brands. So, for a smooth, rich flavor that’s made from premium quality coffee beans without losing its caffeine impact, you can’t really go wrong. And, as acidity can be a tum troubler, your digestive system will thank you for it too.
Premium beans for a smooth, rich taste
90% reduced acidity for less bitterness
15 times less acidic than other brands
Resealable jar to lock in flavor and freshness
- Weight2.4 lbs
For the ultimate in instant convenience, here’s another 3-in-1 coffee blend that packs freeze-dried coffee, creamer, and sugar all in one on the go sachet. This one is for those with a sweeter tooth who also craves some Asian style coffee flavor. Vinacafe’s 3-in-1 instant coffee mix packs a decent taste, although you may need to double up a sachet or two if you prefer a bolder, more intense flavor. Whipping up a cup couldn’t be easier – empty the sachet, add hot water, stir and off you go – which makes this a great option for traveling, off the beaten track adventure days or as an emergency ‘caffeine, sugar, cream’ pack.
Made from quality Vietnamese coffee beans
Coffee powder, sugar and creamer, all in one
20 gram per sachet serving, 40 in a pack
Ideal for traveling or camping adventures
- Weight2 lbs
Instant Coffee Buying Guide & FAQs
How We Chose Our Selection of Instant Coffee
Just because it is instant, it doesn’t mean you need to compromise on quality to get your quick caffeine hit. Taste, texture, aroma…they all count to bring drinking enjoyment to your cup of the dark stuff. To ensure we have the right balance of quality, taste, and convenience in our best instant coffee review, we’ve taken the following into account and given it a good stir:
Brand - Taste, and quality are not exclusive to the big names, there are some really good independents and organic instant coffee brands that also tick the box.
Reviews - User feedback is essential, so we know that our final top 10 best tasting instant coffees have passed the taste test.
Ease-to-Use - It’s an instant, after all, so we’ve bypassed the frills and filters to go for products that are quick and easy without compromising on taste.
Price - Good instant coffee is an everyday go-to so the price needs to reflect quality products that can suit everyday budgets.
Features To Look For In Instant Coffee
Don’t let that seemingly simple cup of instant coffee fool you, there is more to its instant granules than meets the eye. To get a full flavor and delicious drinking enjoyment from your cup of instant, there are a few things you need to know about:
Beans - Your lovely cup of powdered coffee is most likely made from two types of coffee bean: Robusta or Arabica. Robusta is more widely used for an instant, or a blend of the two although arabica is used for more quality. Personal taste will dictate which way your own preference will go. Robusta is grown predominately in Asia and as a hardier bean is widely used and has a recognizable bitter taste while Arabica, found globally it is a slower grower on higher plains, has a slightly sweeter, more layered taste, making it hugely popular as a gourmet instant.
Roast - To get the flavor out of the coffee bean, it is roasted. Coffee beans are actually green and are taken through the roasting process, to become one of a varying shade of roasted brown, to release the aroma and flavor.
You will see this level listed on your jar of instant or powdered coffee – from light to medium to dark roasted, indicating the increasing intensity of flavor.
Taste & Texture - Instant coffee is still coffee and has the recognizable flavor, but by the nature of its freeze-dried coffee production, has a slightly diluted or milder taste, compared to the ground and brewed variety. The texture of your instant coffee can also vary, from finer ground powder to larger, crunchy granules. Regardless of its texture, your instant coffee should smoothly dissolve when hot water is added.
Flavor - Depending on your preference, you can go for light, medium or dark roasted instant coffee, with dark roast the maximum boost to the flavor. A medium roast is more typically associated with American coffee, while dark, intense roasts are reminiscent of French or Italian instant espresso blends.
Caffeine - Due to the freeze-drying process needed to create the instant coffee granules, the caffeine level is reduced, compared to a full-roast ground bean. Typical caffeine levels in a cup of good instant coffee are around 60-80mg, compared to up to 120mg in a brew made from a ground bean. If caffeine levels are a concern, you can always opt for a decaf instant to take the levels down to 12mg or less per cup.
Convenience - This is one of the main points to a jar of instant! Ground prepped and ready waiting in its jar, instant coffee is the ultimate fast drink. Just whip off the lid, scoop out a spoonful into a mug, add hot water and stir. The instant pick-up, whatever time of day.
Types of Instant Coffee
Instant coffee has been basically processed to remove all the oil and water out of the bean while preserving its aroma and flavor. From here, you can tailor your own personal preferences, from flavored instant coffee with added ingredients such as chicory, or instant coffee granules made from organic or Fairtrade beans. Or you can choose the highest quality Arabica bean or go for the more budget-priced Robusta.
Spray Drying Instant Coffee - There are two ways to make instant coffee. The first is the spray drying method in which liquid coffee is sprayed in a fine mist through very hot and very dry air. In an almost instant transformation, by the time the coffee droplets land, they have been dried into a fine powder.
Freeze Drying Instant Coffee - The second method is a freeze-drying process by which the liquid is forced from frozen coffee through sublimation. In short, the ice is forced to vaporize without reaching its liquid stage. With the frozen coffee, it leaves behind a stable coffee powder that can then be brought back into liquid life with hot water.
Both methods do have an impact on the overall flavor and caffeine level once the coffee is reconstituted by boiling water, although freeze-drying leaves more of the aroma and flavor compounds intact.
Instant Coffee FAQ
Q: What is an Instant Coffee?
A: Simply put, instant coffee is a convenient and quick way to get your caffeine fix! It has been made from raw coffee beans that have been roasted and then ground. To produce the recognizable powder or granules, the coffee grounds are then frozen or spray dried to create a dry product that can be brought back to delicious coffee life by adding hot water. Instant coffee takes all the hassle out of grinding, brewing or percolating your own brew, without losing too much of the full bean aroma and flavor.
Q: How Is Instant Coffee Made?
A: The journey to instant coffee involves taking the coffee bean and roasting to remove the moisture and release its flavor. From here, the process to fine ground instant or coffee granules involves a process – either by spray or freeze-drying - to create a dry powder that can be easily reconstituted into liquid coffee, ready to drink. For some blends, aromatics extracted back at the early stages of the process are added back to the dry powder to preserve and boost that distinct and delicious coffee taste.
Q: How do I make an Instant coffee taste better?
A: Instant coffee loses some of the bean’s flavor and aroma as it goes through its production process, meaning it can be a diluted version of a full-on coffee roast. You can whip up a bit more body and attitude from your mug of instant by adding just a little cold water to the granules first, stirred into a thick paste before topping up with freshly boiled water for a full cup brew. Sugar, cream and coffee flavoring can also be used to give your instant a bit more of a flavor bite.
Q: Can Too Much Caffeine Be Dangerous?
A: All good things in moderation is how the saying goes, and this can also apply to your daily intake of caffeine. But don’t demonize the C-stuff too quickly, as caffeine has a host of recognized health properties, including pepping up your energy, concentration, and mood as well as power-charging your daily workout. However, problems can kick in when it comes to excessive caffeine consumption (that’s over 400mg a day according to the Mayo Clinic) so do be aware of how many cups you are drinking and any negative symptoms such as anxiety, digestive problems, migraines and raised blood pressure.
Q: When Is The Best Time To Consume Caffeine?
A: As caffeine is a known pick up, the time of day you drink your coffee can make a difference to how you feel. If your first cup of the day helps to pep you up (and experts suggest not drinking it too early or you could feel a drop-off impact in the afternoon), then it’s fair to say that a cup of instant coffee isn’t necessarily going to help you drop off into the land of nod!
As a rule of thumb, try to not drink coffee after 5 pm especially if you suffer from insomnia or simply need to have a good night’s sleep. If you can’t bear the thought of an evening cuppa, opt for a good decaffeinated instant coffee instead.