What Is The Best Instant Coffee? Top 7 Brews Most Recommended By Experts

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.

Woman putting sugar or artificial sweetener in her coffee
A woman putting sugar in her coffee (© Andrii – stock.adobe.com)

The List: Best Instant Coffees, According to Experts


1. Verve Street-Level Blend

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.” 

Verve Street-Level Blend
Verve Street-Level Blend

According to Insider, “This is an instant version of Verve’s best-selling coffee, balanced and with notes of fruit. Each pack comes with six packages, which are thin and easily transported.”

How about the flavor? Serious Eats adds, “Bright and fruity but still balanced, we liked how much this option tasted like fresh brewed coffee. Think: brown sugar and tangerine, with a lighter body.”

2. Mount Hagen Organic Fair-Trade

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.”

Mount Hagen Organic Fair-Trade
Mount Hagen Organic Fair-Trade

According to Wirecutter, “We all agreed that the flavor came out more as the coffee sat for a minute or two. We think it’s a solid cup of generic coffee, like you’d expect to find at a diner.”

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.”

3. Swift Ethiopia Agaro

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.”

Swift Ethiopia Agaro
Swift Ethiopia Agaro (swiftcoffee.com)

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!

4. Nescafe Clasico

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.”

Nescafe Clasico
Nescafe Clasico

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.”

5. Intelligentsia House Blend

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.

Intelligentsia House Blend
Intelligentsia House Blend

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.”

6. Starbucks VIA Instant Pike Place Roast

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.”

Starbucks VIA Instant Pike Place Roast
Starbucks VIA Instant Pike Place Roast

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.”

VIA French Roast is also a popular instant coffee from Starbucks. The Spruce Eats calls it “bold and smoky, this is one of the most reviewed and most purchased instant coffees on the market.”

7. Canyon Instant Coffee

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.

Canyon Instant Coffee
Canyon Instant Coffee (canyoncoffee.com)

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.”

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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.

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About the Author

Amy Chodroff

Amy Chodroff is a recovering Morning Radio Show Host and award-winning broadcaster who recently retired from DFW’s Morning News on KLIF in Dallas. Fondly known as the “Chief Googler” by her friends, it was a seamless transition for StudyFinds to enlist her expertise for their “Best of the Best” franchise. Amy has an innate curiosity and a penchant for thorough research before any purchase and she’s constantly on the hunt for top-notch products. Outside of her digital explorations, Amy loves to explore the world with her husband and is the proud mother of two adult daughters. You can also find Amy on the pickleball court, perfecting her dink and drop shots.

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    Mount Hagen ORGANIC Arabian Cafe – (Dried Freeze)
    l bought it few years ago….
    but GOOD to the last drop.

  2. I gave up on Starbuck’s Via because I got tired of the wasteful packaging. Luckily found the Mount Hagen (in the recyclable jars) and have been happily enjoying it for a couple of years. Tried Waka and found it both insipid and too expensive. Love everything about Mount Hagen instant coffee!

  3. What a bunch of woke coffee reviews!
    What about the common man? Get real.
    Review some real national coffees. Stuff people would want and can afford!

    1. That’s a great idea….sounds like Tasters Choice and Folgers are good candidates. I see others at my local HyVee in the Twin Cities.

  4. I tried mt Hagen a couple of years ago. And it was very smooth with good flavor. Interestingly had the same flavor profile (My experience) as tasters choice. So as much as I would like to buy Mt Hagen, I buy Tasters Choice and get the same flavor (Still my perception) and pay less money

  5. I have always loved a good cup of coffee but as I got older I was unable to drink it because it increased my blood pressure. I would love someone to do a taste test on decaf instant coffees. I’m trying to find a good tasting instant decaf coffee. I do like Bustelo but cannot find instant decaf bustelo.

  6. I already use the can version of Cafe Bustelo in my grounds cup for my Keurig. I usually add a packet of no-sugar-added Swiss Miss for some cafe mocha. Good stuff.

  7. Yes agreed to list coffee that are affordable by general public n stopped this publicity for the branded coffee

  8. I thought Starbucks VIA Christmas blend had an awful taste. I threw all the packets out. I would hope their regular blends are better.

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