Don’t have access to a fresh cup of piping hot coffee? A pack of instant coffee not only delivers a jolt of caffeine in a pinch but also can provide seriously robust flavor! While Sanka was one of the pioneering instant coffee brands, today’s options have come a long way in terms of flavor, quality, and variety. Modern instant coffees are often made using advanced processing techniques that preserve the coffee’s aroma and taste. They now come in various forms, including freeze-dried and spray-dried, and offer a wide range of flavors and options, including specialty blends and single-origin varieties. With these advancements, instant coffee has become a convenient and flavorful choice for coffee enthusiasts, bridging the gap between instant and freshly brewed coffee. With so many choices, which are the best instant coffee brands? We’ve done the research, so you don’t have to.
Drinking instant coffee does not diminish its health benefits, even if you add a spoonful of sugar to make it taste better. A recent study found coffee drinkers have a lower risk of death than non-coffee drinkers, but if you like to sweeten your cup of joe, you’re even less likely to die. Who can argue with that?! But, you may want to stick to the real thing, because the study was inconclusive for those who opted to add artificial sweeteners to their brews.
That’s not all! Coffee also has been shown to help fight frailty in old age, according to a new study. If you regularly drink coffee or tea during middle age, you are setting yourself up for success later in life. This even goes for caffeinated foods like chocolate! Sounds like a win-win!
Remember that the perfect cup of instant coffee can vary from person to person, so don’t be afraid to experiment with coffee-to-water ratios, additives, and brands until you find your ideal taste. Additionally, using high-quality instant coffee will make a significant difference in the overall flavor and satisfaction of your brew. We’ve come up with a list of the best instant coffees to try that were most recommended across 10 expert sources. Which do you like the best? Let us know in the comments below.
The List: Best Instant Coffees, According to Experts
Looking for everything you would want in a cup of instant coffee? Look no further than Verve’s street-level blend. Bon Appetit writes, “This was a high-quality cup of coffee that had ‘character and nuance’ to it. It had all the rich flavors and robust body of a beautiful pour-over with the easy smoothness of a cold brew. Because it checked all our boxes and more, we’re naming Verve Streetlevel our best instant coffee.”
The Spruce Eats says this blend is one of the smoothest and most delicious. “I first tried it on a road trip and didn’t even mix it with hot water like the brand recommends; nonetheless, I liked the taste so much that I now keep a jar in my kitchen for when I’m not in the mood to brew a full pot of coffee. Like most instant coffee, Mount Hagen is also handy to bring camping. The flavor itself is somewhat generic but in an appetizing and palatable way. It balances a mild acidity with fuller, roasted notes for a well-rounded cup that’s not harsh like many instant coffees.”
You won’t be disappointed with this brew. The Pioneer Woman adds, “With over 1,000 positive reviews on Amazon and convenient travel packets for on-the-go, Mount Hagen coffee is a reliable choice. It was one of the first instant coffee brands to be certified organic and Fair Trade, plus it has an all-around great flavor.”
If you like “light roasts and delicate flavors,” The Spruce Eats says you’ll love this instant coffee. “Light and silky, Ethiopia Agaro from Swift tasted like black cherry and fruit salad, and had a floral, orange blossom note.”
According to The Pioneer Woman, “This brand is dedicated to making instant coffees— all of which are high quality and ethically sourced.”
Insider also votes this brand as the “Best Subscription” instant coffee, saying the orders are very customizable. So, you can have it delivered to your door regularly to make for an even more instant experience!
Looking for the best bang for your buck? According to The Pioneer Woman, “This coffee is refreshingly lighter than some of the others on the list but it’s still full of flavor. Plus, you’ll get 105 cups of coffee for under $10.”
SELF likes that it is affordable: “Here’s another cost-effective instant coffee to have on hand for baking, whipping up shakes and smoothies, and brewing coffee on the days you realize you’re out of beans and need an energy boost in a pinch. Nescafe’s dark roast tastes rich and bold.”
Coffee Chronicler loves the Azera version saying, “Overall, this was the highest-scoring coffee in the blind taste, although some other coffees were close. I had never heard about this instant blend before, but it turns out that it’s a rather new invention that includes some ultra-fine ‘real’ coffee in the sample. I think that gives the cup a more ‘realistic’ feeling; it tastes less like instant and more like regular coffee.”
If you want a well-rounded option, Serious Eats says this fits the bill. “Well-balanced and sweet, Intelligentsia’s House Blend had a clean finish with flavors reminiscent of caramel sauce, brown sugar, and pear. It’s a well-rounded option for most coffee drinkers.
According to The Spruce Eats, “If you place a premium on taste and quality, though, Intelligentsia’s Instant House Blend might be the best option out there. The single-serve packets are easy to travel with as well and eliminate the hassle of having to measure scoops.”
Bon Appetit reviewed the company’s Instant Espresso, Black Cat Classic and wrote, “The cup of brewed coffee wasn’t as strong as we’d have liked—more of a medium roast rather than espresso—and some tasters likened it to diner coffee. Still, it would work in a pinch—which is generally when you’re drinking instant coffee anyways.”
The list wouldn’t be complete without at least one Starbucks product. According to Tasting Table, “The Starbucks VIA Instant Pike Place Roast Coffee is an easy favorite. This medium roast is smooth and not too bold, with a very forward nutty flavor. The hazelnut essence is undertoned by hints of caramel and chocolate. The resulting coffee is the familiar mild of medium roast — not as acidic as a light roast, not as bitter as a dark like Starbucks’ Italian that’s included in this ranking — and can be enjoyed by a variety of coffee users. The flavor is complex enough to enjoy black, but would also go well with cream and sugar.”
This is a great affordable option. Insider adds, “If you want a quick, satisfying cup on a budget, the VIA blend is a great option. This brew is based on its classic Pike Place roast, with a rich, chocolatey profile.”
Last but not least, experts love the brews from Canyon. Wirecutter writes, “The Canyon instant coffee tasted the most like freshly brewed coffee, and it was one of the most nuanced cups we drank.” The paper goes on to say it’s a very “drinkable” cup with only one downside – the company only sells instant coffee in single serving packets.
What’s all the hype behind Canyon Coffee? Bon Appetit adds, “Coffee lovers will adore the aroma, which was warm, inviting, and strong, and it was a real contender for first place, until we noticed a slightly sour note that just slightly threw off the flavor balance in our cups of black coffee.”
This in another choice that is great on-the-go. The Spruce Eats calls this a “luxury instant coffee which makes for a great travel companion.” The website adds, “The company packages one cup’s worth of top-quality grounds into individual packets, ensuring the freshest tasting cup.”
You may also be interested in:
- Best Coffee Beans
- Best Decaf Coffee
- Best Organic Coffee
- Best Keurig K-Cups
- Best Fast Food Iced Coffee
- Bon Appetit
- New York Times
- Tasting Table
- Coffee Chronicler
- Serious Eats
- The Spruce Eats
- The Pioneer Woman
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This article may contain affiliate links in which we receive a commission if you make a purchase.