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Best Instant Coffee in 2022 — Buyer’s Guide, Reviews, and Comparisons

This is not your mother’s instant coffee. Not so long ago, instant coffee had a really bad, but well-deserved reputation. Today though, some promising instant coffee brands are doing their best to shake off that bad reputation, and they’re succeeding. With the best instant coffee, you can enjoy a decent cup of joe anywhere, anytime.
Mount Hagen Organic Freeze Dried Coffee
Mount Hagen Instant Coffee proves that instant can be just as good as conventional ground coffee. Mount Hagen was the first instant coffee company in the world to gain organic and fair trade certification. Arabica beans from Papua New Guinea are the only beans used to produce it’s freeze-dried instant blend.
Features
  • Arabica beans are grown in high-altitude, volcanic soil
  • Freeze-dried instant coffee
  • Both fair trade and organic certified

Product Comparison Table

IMAGE PRODUCT DETAILS
  • Bean Type: Arabica
  • Origin of Beans: Papua New Guinea
  • Roast: Medium-light roast
  • Production: Freeze-dried

Features

  • First instant coffee producer globally to be certified organic and fair trade
  • Slight fruity, nutty taste
  • Made with single-origin coffee beans

Product Rating: 4.7/5

Check Price At Amazon Mount Hagen Review
  • Bean Type: Arabica
  • Origin of Beans: Latin America
  • Roast: Medium roast
  • Production Method: Unknown

Features

  • Ultra-fine, microground coffee beans
  • Dissolves in both hot and cold water
  • Rich, but slightly bitter taste

Product Rating: 4.5/5

Check Price At Amazon Anthony's Organic Instant Review
  • Bean Type: Arabica
  • Origin of Beans: Multiple regions
  • Roast: Dark roast
  • Production Method: Spray-dried

Features

  • Bold, strong flavor
  • Less acidic than other brands
  • Individual serving packets

Product Rating: 4.6/5

Check Price At Amazon Starbucks VIA Instant Review
  • Bean Type: Arabica
  • Origin of Beans: Guatemala
  • Roast: Medium roast
  • Product Method: Freeze-dried

Features

  • Tastes of molasses, marmalade, and red apple
  • Direct trade coffee
  • Instant version of their flagship coffee

Product Rating: 4.5/5

Check Price At Amazon Verve Instant Coffee Review
  • Bean Type: Arabica
  • Origin of Beans: Multiple Regions
  • Roast: Medium roast
  • Production Method: Freeze-dried

Features

  • Organic and fair trade certified
  • Tasting notes of nuts, chocolate, and spices
  • The first organic coffee company in the United States

Product Rating: 4.6/5

Check Price At Amazon Cafe Altura Review
  • Bean Type: Arabica and Robusta
  • Origin of Beans: Unknown
  • Roast: Dark Roast
  • Production Method: Freeze-dried

Features

  • Suitable for cappuccino, americano, and espresso
  • Rich flavor
  • Made in the Netherlands

Product Rating: 4.5/5

Check Price At Amazon Douwe Egberts Review
  • Bean Type: Arabica
  • Origin of Beans: Colombia
  • Roast: Medium roast
  • Production Method: Spray-dried

Features

  • Less caffeine that other coffee brands
  • Mushroom powfer to help fight stress
  • Each batch is tested for purity

Product Rating: 4.5/5

Check Price At Amazon Four Sigmatic Review
  • Bean Type: Arabica and Robusta
  • Origin of Beans: Unknown
  • Roast: Medium-dark roast
  • Production Method: Freeze-dried

Features

  • Smoky, rich flavor
  • Tasting notes of chocolate
  • Dissolves best with very hot, almost boiling water

Product Rating: 4.6/5

Check Price At Amazon Nescafe Taster's Choice Review
  • Bean Type: Arabica
  • Origin of Beans: Colombia
  • Roast: Medium roast
  • Production Method: Freeze-dried

Features

  • Dissolves easily in hot or cold water
  • Individual serving packets
  • Smooth taste with hints of citrus

Product Rating: 4.4/5

Check Price At Amazon Waka Instant Coffee Review

A Buying Guide to the Best Instant Coffee Brands


Instant coffee has come a long way from the days when people cringed at the very thought of drinking it. There’s a misconception that instant coffee should taste just like conventional coffee, and when it doesn’t, it’s labeled as awful.

The reality is that instant coffee is not the same as java brewed from beans, so it shouldn’t be expected to taste the same. Once you shift your perspective and expectations, you can evaluate the beverage in a completely different light. And the truth is, there are some pretty good instant coffees out there nowadays.

These are some things you should consider before selecting any particular kind of instant coffee:

Single serving packets versus a whole jar

Caffeinated or decaf?

Price

Taste

Production method

Preparation

History of Instant Coffee


Instant coffee’s early history is a little blurry. We know that its first major appearance in the United States was during the Civil War. Then, instant coffee came in thick blocks that looked much like cake. It was not well-received because it didn’t resemble coffee.

A stable powdered version was created in 1901 in Japan via a process similar to that of powdered tea. It wasn’t until five years later in 1906 that a chemist developed a commercial process to make instant coffee on a larger scale.

His product, Red E Coffee, was successful for a few decades before Nestle started marketing its instant coffee. Nescafe was introduced and the world embraced it with enthusiasm. This brand remains popular today. 

Spoiler alert: Nescafe makes an appearance on our list of best instant coffees.

Why People Choose Instant Coffee


Instant coffee tends to be very polarizing. People either really like it, or they despise it. There’s not much in between. While instant coffee is coffee, it can’t taste exactly like java brewed from beans, because the processes behind them are different.

There are many reasons why people choose instant coffee, though. There’s no waiting on the brewing process, which is fantastic if you’re in a rush but need that caffeine jolt quickly. Simply add water and stir! If you can measure out 8-10 ounces of water, you can make instant coffee. Instant coffee is actually very popular throughout some parts of the world.

Instant coffee can go with you anywhere too. Camping, hotels, or the office break room — pull out an individual packet anywhere at any time. There’s also virtually no cleanup, rinse out your cup and teaspoon and that’s it.

If price is a concern, you’ll generally pay less for instant than conventional coffee. Plus, it can be stored longer than both ground coffee and coffee beans. No worries about your coffee beans getting stale before they can be used.

And something most people don’t know: you can use instant coffee when baking! That’s right, instant coffee can be used in cakes, brownies, or other desserts.

How to Select Instant Coffee


Once upon a time, there was a pretty limited selection of instant coffee, and you were stuck with whatever was on the shelf. Not anymore, though, as today there are a variety of flavors and options.

If you’re wondering how to pick the best instant coffee, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s what you should consider:

Is Instant Coffee Best in Packets or a Whole Jar?

Instant coffee comes available in two packaging versions. You can buy a container of loose instant crystals and measure out your own coffee, or buy single-serve packets. The latter are usually packaged with 6-10 servings per container.

There’s no right or wrong answer here. Some people like the convenience offered by single serving packets. There’s no measuring instant coffee, and you can tuck a packet into your pocket or purse. Others prefer to measure out their own instant coffee to make a weaker or stronger cup of joe. Loose instant coffee is also preferred if you’re using it for baking.

Because instant coffee won’t go stale, you can buy a big jar and it will stay fresh. Some people prefer to do this so they can avoid single-use packaging.

Caffeinated or Decaf

The answer seems obvious since most people opt for fully caffeinated java! However, there are many reasons why someone chooses decaf coffee instead, either for health or just as a personal choice.

Fortunately, there are options. Caffeinated instant coffee is by far the more common type, but there are numerous decaf instant coffee options too. 

Price

Unfortunately, most of us don’t have unlimited bank accounts, so there’s usually a budget to stick to. While there are pricier instant coffee brands, most are very reasonably priced and affordable. In fact, instant coffee is much less expensive than buying conventional ground coffee or whole beans.

Taste

Taste is often the deciding factor for people when it comes to coffee. No, you won’t get the same boldness as java brewed from beans because the processes involved are different. And instant coffee can sometimes be more watery than conventional coffee, but there can be ways around that.

Advances with instant coffee have led to improved flavors, along with better variety. There are quite a few types of instant coffee and even different roasts available.

If you’ve opted to buy loose instant coffee rather than single serving packs, you can play with the strength of your coffee. Too weak? Add a few more granules in your cup. Too strong? Add a bit more water.

The Production Process

Producing top instant coffee is a very complex process, but the long and short of it is that coffee is brewed in specialized equipment to bring out its best flavors. Then water is removed from the coffee, which concentrates it. Finally, the liquid that remains is dehydrated even further, turning it into dry powder or crystals.

Dehydration is achieved via two different means: freeze-drying or spray-drying. With freeze-drying, the coffee is frozen rapidly and then broken apart into tiny particles. Those particles are then vaporized and the ice is removed, leaving powdered coffee. Freeze-dried coffee is considered superior to spray-dried instant coffee.

With spray-drying, coffee is sprayed through extremely heated air inside a drying tower. The air is so hot that water evaporates, leaving coffee crystals behind.

If you’d like to learn more about the processes used when creating instant coffee, take a look at this article.

The Top Best Instant Coffees


Since instant coffee isn’t as popular as conventional coffee, it can be trickier to sort out the A-pluses from the C-minuses. That’s why we’ve done it for you. 

So, what’s the best instant coffee? We researched popularity, customer feedback and reviews, and drank a fair few cups of instant. Our top pick is Mount Hagen, but it’s not alone. Read on for our full list of the best instant coffees:

Our Rating: 4.7/5

FEATURES:

  • First instant coffee producer globally to be certified organic and fair trade.
  • Slight fruity, nutty taste.
  • Made with single-origin coffee beans.

Mount Hagen Freeze Dried Coffee is made by a company that was the first instant coffee producer in the world certified as both organic and fair trade. Mount Hagen knows its stuff, and accordingly, has some of the best-rated instant coffee reviews.

Mt. Hagen instant coffee uses Arabica beans grown at high altitudes in Papua New Guinea. One of few freeze-dried coffee brands to source beans from Papua’s rich volcanic soils, this coffee has a smooth, velvety taste with hints of nuts and fruit.

Mount Hagen Coffee is a medium-light roast, so its flavor is very mild. So mild, in fact, that it may not be strong enough for some aficionados. The company states that you can expect to get 50 servings from its 3.53 ounce jar, but many customers say it makes far less than that.

Pros

  • Fair trade and organic certified
  • Mild, smooth flavor
  • Made with only Arabica coffee beans

    Cons

    • Flavor may be too mild for some people
    • Users claim it makes far less than the 50 servings advertised
    • Flavor
    • Freshness
    • Price

    Anthony’s Organic Instant Coffee

    ~ Best for Iced Coffee


    Our Rating: 4.5/5

    FEATURES:

    • Ultra-fine, microground coffee beans
    • Dissolves in both hot and cold water
    • Rich, but slightly bitter taste

    Anthony’s Organic coffee uses only Arabica beans sourced from Latin America. This coffee is labeled as being micro-ground, super-fine coffee, rather than traditional instant.

    It has a rich, strong flavor which can be slightly bitter. Anthony’s fans note that it dissolves easily and quickly in either hot or cold water. We like that Anthony’s Coffee uses batch testing to ensure the quality of its instant coffee.

    This coffee comes loose in a resealable bag, allowing you to create your own perfect beverage by using a little less or more instant coffee. The company also offers several recipes using its instant coffee.

    Pros

    • Dissolves in hot or cold water
    • Smooth, rich taste
    • Batch tested to verify quality

      Cons

      • Creates dust, it’s ground so finely
      • Slightly bitter taste
      • Flavor
      • Freshness
      • Price

      Our Rating: 4.6/5

      FEATURES:

      • Bold, strong flavor
      • Less acidic than other brands
      • Individual serving packets

      Starbucks VIA Instant Coffee French Roast is the darkest instant coffee roast available from Starbucks. This dark roast lives up to its reputation with a very bold, smoky flavor. Apparently, some consumers have been turned off by just how strong this coffee is.

      Starbucks VIA uses Arabica beans sourced from multiple regions. Spray-drying is the production method here, which may put off some buyers, but the flavor has not been compromised. The VIA roast also has a light body, with lower acid levels than other instant coffees.

      Starbucks’ instant coffee packets are convenient and easy to use. However, the container is small with just eight packets per box. As a result, some consumers have complained about it being more expensive per serving than other instant coffees.

      Pros

      • Darkest roast with the strongest flavor
      • Starbucks instant single-serve packets for convenience
      • Uses Arabica beans

        Cons

        • Higher price point per serving than many brands
        • Flavor may be too strong for some
        • Flavor
        • Freshness
        • Price

        Our Rating: 4.5/5

        FEATURES:

        • Tastes of molasses, marmalade, and red apple
        • Direct trade coffee
        • Instant version of their flagship coffee

        Verve Coffee Roasters’ Craft Instant Coffee – Streetlevel is an instant version of the company’s flagship coffee, which is a top selling product. This company sources its coffee beans from multiple locations in higher elevations within Guatemala.

        A medium roast, Verve instant coffee has tasting notes of apple, molasses, and marmalade. Its flavor is mild, but can be somewhat more acidic than other instant coffee brands.

        Verve Streetlevel’s price may be a negative to some buyers, though, as it’s considerably more expensive per serving than other instant coffees. The company uses small batch brewing to preserve flavors, and the instant comes in individual serving packets. This coffee dissolves well in hot or cold water.

        Pros

        • Grown in high elevations in Guatemala
        • Mild fruity flavors
        • Individual serving packets

          Cons

          • Price per serving is higher than most other instant coffees
          • More acidic than some other brands
          • Flavor
          • Freshness
          • Price

          Our Rating: 4.6/5

          FEATURES:

          • Organic and fair trade certified
          • Tasting notes of nuts, chocolate, and spices
          • The first organic coffee company in the United States

          Cafe Altura Instant Coffee is both fair trade and organic certified, so it has to meet high expectations. This company was the first organic coffee company in the United States.

          Arabica beans from Indonesia, South America, and Africa go into the blend, and natural methods for growing and processing the coffee beans are used. For example, rain washes the beans and sunlight dries them before they’re roasted on a fire. With such dedication to flavor, it’s no surprise this is one of the best freeze-dried coffee brands.

          Being organic, Cafe Altura coffee is slightly more expensive than some other instant coffees, and there’s no option to buy individual serving packets. This instant coffee comes as a medium roast, with flavors of nuts, spices, and chocolate. It dissolves best in hot rather than cold water.

          Pros

          • Certified both organic and fair trade
          • Cafe Altura instant coffee is freeze-dried
          • Uses natural means to dry and roast beans

            Cons

            • Slightly more expensive than other brands
            • No option for individual serving packets
            • Flavor
            • Freshness
            • Price

            Douwe Egberts Coffee Pure Indulgence

            ~ Best Instant Espresso Powder


            Our Rating: 4.5/5

            FEATURES:

            • Suitable for cappuccino, americano, and espresso
            • Rich flavor
            • Made in the Netherlands

            Douwe Egberts Pure Indulgence coffee repeatedly shows up on best coffee lists, with good reason. This dark roast has a rich flavor, plus it’s one of the few instant coffees that is appropriate for instant espresso and cappuccino, as well as just ordinary java.

            A blend of Arabica and Robusta beans are used in Douwe Egberts Indulgence coffee, and the company uses a freeze-drying process to make its instant coffee. Douwe Egberts has been in business for more than 200 years and has a long history of quality coffee.

            Douwe Egberts instant coffee is somewhat pricier than other brands, but it’s still not going to break your bank account. It’s best to use very hot water when making this coffee; there have been complaints that granules do not fully dissolve, particularly in cooler water.

            Pros

            • Flavorful dark roast
            • Uses the freeze-drying process
            • One of the best instant espresso coffees

              Cons

              • Arabica beans are blended with Robusta beans
              • Douwe Egbert Indulgence does not always dissolve completely
              • Flavor
              • Freshness
              • Price

              Four Sigmatic Instant Adaptogen Coffee

              ~ Best Specialty Instant Coffee


              Our Rating: 4.5/5

              FEATURES:

              • Less caffeine than other coffee brands
              • Mushroom powder to help fight stress
              • Each batch is tested for purity

              Four Sigmatic Adaptogen is not your typical instant coffee mix. Adaptogen coffee, including the instant version, features mushroom powder. It also incorporates the ashwagandha herb, which is reportedly helpful at fighting off stress and fatigue.

              This medium roast coffee is made with Arabica coffee beans from Colombia and has a slight caramel flavor. Because there’s less caffeine than in other brands, there’s no crash when the caffeine wears off.

              Adaptogen coffee dissolves well, plus consumers report that the beverage tastes pleasant and not at all mushroomy!

              Pros

              • Third-party testing to ensure safety and quality
              • No crash after caffeine wears off
              • Four Sigmatic instant coffee has the benefits of mushrooms with no mushroom taste

                Cons

                • Method of production, whether freeze or spray-dried, is unknown
                • Less caffeine than other instant coffee brands
                • Flavor
                • Freshness
                • Price

                Nescafe Taster’s Choice French Roast

                ~ Best Medium-Dark Roast


                Our Rating: 4.6/5

                FEATURES:

                • Smoky, rich flavor
                • Tasting notes of chocolate
                • Dissolves best with very hot, almost boiling water

                Nescafe has been popular for many years and its history is closely linked to instant coffee’s beginnings. Taster’s Choice French Roast is a medium-dark roast with a smoky and rich coffee flavor.

                The company says its coffee beans are “grown respectfully,” but does not elaborate on where its Arabica and Robusta beans originate. Nor does it give information on which method is used to produce instant coffee. Nescafe’s track-record may be off-putting to some buyers.

                Taster’s Choice instant coffee may be too strong for some people, and some consumers report a bitter taste. For others though, that strong bitterness is a coffee plus. Its price point is lower than many instant coffee powder brands, and it’s available in both large containers and individual serving packets.

                Pros

                • Lower price point than some instant coffee brands
                • Rich, smoky flavor
                • Available in both containers and individual serving packets

                  Cons

                  • Bitter taste
                  • Flavor may be too strong for some
                  • Flavor
                  • Freshness
                  • Price

                  Waka Instant Coffee Freeze Dried Colombian

                  ~ Best Single Origin Instant Coffee


                  Our Rating: 4.4/5

                  FEATURES:

                  • Dissolves easily in hot or cold water
                  • Individual serving packets
                  • Smooth taste with hints of citrus

                  Waka Coffee was founded in 2018 and is a newcomer to the java business. Despite its recent appearance on the java scene, Waka Coffee instant coffee has become popular quickly.

                  The company donates four percent of all its profits to assist with clean water projects around the world. Only single-origin Arabica coffee beans from Colombia go into each batch and freeze-drying is the method of choice.

                  Given these factors, this instant coffee is pricier than other instant coffee brands. It dissolves well with both hot and cold water, so you can enjoy your beverage just about anywhere. The company says its blend includes citrus hints, but there have been some complaints that its flavor isn’t as good as advertised.

                  Pros

                  • Company donates a percentage of profits to clean water projects
                  • Uses single origin coffee beans
                  • Comes in bulk and single-serve options

                    Cons

                    • Flavor is not quite as advertised
                    • Not as affordable as other brands of instant coffee
                    • Flavor
                    • Freshness
                    • Price

                    Conclusion


                     

                    While some people instinctively cringe at the idea of drinking instant coffee, it has dramatically improved from its early days. However, it’s still unfair to compare instant coffee with java brewed from beans — they’re simply not meant to taste alike. There are far more options for instant coffee today, and quality and flavor has improved considerably. 

                    We know you love your coffee beans, but there’s definitely a time and place for instant coffee. Instant coffee is convenient, too, just follow some simple directions, and you’re drinking a cup of joe in less than a minute.

                    Consider your budget, your preferred flavors, and whether you’re looking for decaf or fully caffeinated instant coffee. You can also choose between a jar filled with instant coffee or single serving packets. Whatever your preferences, today’s instant coffee is a far cry from the instant coffee of old.

                    Best Instant Coffee FAQs


                    Is There Any Really Good Instant Coffee?

                    Today, there are plenty of really good instant coffee brands. We rate Mount Hagen and Waka as two of the best, but they’re certainly not alone, even Nescafe has upped the instant ante with its Taster’s Choice blend. Plus, modern instant coffee is available in many different flavors and roasts.

                    Where Is Instant Coffee Popular?

                    Instant coffee is very popular in different parts of the world, including Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. In fact, everywhere you find coffee drinkers you’ll find instant coffee.

                    Is Instant Coffee High in Caffeine?

                    The caffeine content in instant coffee depends on the brand, some are higher in caffeine than others. Overall though, instant coffee generally has less caffeine than regular coffee. If you’d like to compare the caffeine in instant coffee to other forms of coffee, you can check out this link.

                    Decaffeinated instant coffee is also available, but if you’re avoiding caffeine completely, be aware that it may contain very small trace amounts.

                    Is Nescafe Real Coffee?

                    Yes, Nescafe instant coffee is still real coffee! It’s made from coffee beans that have been brewed, concentrated by removing most of the liquid, and then dehydrated to create tiny crystals.

                    What Are the Disadvantages of Instant Coffee?

                    Instant coffee contains a chemical called acrylamide, which some people fear may be harmful to their health. Another disadvantage of instant coffee is that it doesn’t taste the same as coffee brewed from beans, and it may not have as much caffeine as you prefer.

                    Is There an Organic Instant Coffee?

                    Yes, there are quite a few brands of organic instant coffee available today. We highly recommend Mount Hagen and Anthony’s Organic instant coffee. Each has a distinct flavor profile and the beans are grown according to organic certification.

                    Is Freeze-Dried Coffee the Same as Instant Coffee?

                    Freeze-dried coffee is the same as instant coffee because freeze-drying is a method of producing instant coffee rather than a type itself. When it comes to instant coffee, freeze-drying is considered superior to coffee produced with the spray-drying method.

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