Ah, coffee: the aroma, the taste, the much-needed caffeine kick. For most coffee lovers, the typical go-to is a mug of freshly brewed. But what about those days when you don’t have time to wait for your coffee machine to produce that perfect cup? That’s where a good instant coffee comes in.
There’s so much to love about instant coffee – after all, it’s not called ‘instant’ for nothing. It literally takes seconds to make a great cup of Joe. And talk about control. You decide how weak or how strong it will be depending on how much you spoon into your cup. And finally, it’s so convenient. No cleaning a coffee machine or messy grounds, and with individual packets, you can make coffee with boiling water pretty much anywhere you go.
From freeze-dried, dark roast, organic, and even espresso, there’s something out there to suit your tastes.
We feature five instant coffee brands you can purchase online. Read on to discover which one suits you best.
Top Pick Best for Dark Roast Lovers: NESCAFE CLASICO Dark Roast Instant Coffee
You can’t get a richer premium flavored instant coffee than this dark roast Clasico from Nescafe. This coffee company has been providing instant coffee to Americans since 1938, so you know they must be doing something right.
A bold, full bodied dark roast, each jar contains 100 percent real coffee from responsibly sourced Arabica and Robusta coffee beans that are carefully roasted to capture each blend’s full flavor and aroma. It’s dark, rich liquid beauty in a cup.
Simply add 1 teaspoon (or more) of the instant coffee into a mug, add 6 ounces of hot water and stir. In less than a minute you will be enjoying its bold taste, well-developed aroma, and full body that delivers a rich, complex and satisfying cup of coffee every time.
- Made from Arabica and Robusta coffee beans
- Rich, full-bodied taste with authentic Latin flavor
- Affordable: approximately 100 cups per 7-ounce jar
- Dark roasts tend to have less caffeine than a lighter roast
Top Pick Best Organic: Mount Hagen Organic Fair Trade Freeze Dried Instant Coffee
For some people, the purity of organic coffee is the way to go. If that is the only coffee you will drink, then you may want to consider this award-winning organic instant coffee from Mount Hagen.
The single-origin coffee consistently tops the lists of best instant organic coffees and boasts a velvety mildness and complex, sophisticated flavor unique to Papua New Guinea. Made from fresh Arabica beans from the best high-altitude regions, the beans are gently roasted, cultivated, refined and then freeze-dried until their rich flavor is released by hot water.
Delicious hot or cold – for hot coffee, use one level teaspoonful per cup, add boiling water and stir. For iced coffee, fill a cup half full with cold water, add a teaspoon of instant coffee, stir, add ice and serve. Makes approximately 60 servings using one teaspoon per cup, less if using two teaspoons per cup.
- Organic, fair trade instant coffee
- Made from Arabica beans
- Single-origin brew
- More expensive than other instant coffees
Top Pick Best for Keto Diet: Laird Superfood Instafuel Instant Coffee
Coffee is your superfood – you can’t begin your day without at least one cup, and you drink it throughout the day to keep you going. Sometimes you run out of milk and have to drink it black; not your favorite way to enjoy it. Wouldn’t it be awesome to find a great-tasting instant coffee that includes a non-dairy creamer?
This instant coffee by Laird is a mix of a non-refrigerated, unsweetened powdered creamer combined with instant coffee made from premium freeze-dried Arabica beans that will become your new cherished morning drink.
Packaged in a convenient pouch that travels nicely in a purse or suitcase, this coffee has a rich, deep flavor, and is made from beans that are shade-grown, mold free, low acid, pesticide-free, hand picked and slow roasted.
Perfect for any coffee lover who likes a non-dairy latte blush to their coffee, anyone living a keto lifestyle will also appreciate this keto-compliant caffeine jolt. With no added sugar and a dairy-free base of clean fats such as coconut milk powder and coconut oil, you can enjoy a satisfying cup of coffee any time, guilt-free.
A one-pound bag makes 42, 6-ounce cups of coffee – simply add four tablespoons of Instafuel to 12 ounces of water and mix. Easy and convenient, your day just got a whole lot brighter with this delicious instant coffee.
Ingredients: Coconut milk powder, freeze dried Arabica instant coffee powder, Aquamin (calcium from marine algae), organic extra virgin coconut oil
- Made from premium Arabica coffee beans
- Keto compliant
- Includes powdered non-dairy creamer
- Low acid, no mold, pesticide-free
- Gluten-free, dairy-free, non-GMO
- More expensive than other brands
- Contents may clump
Top Pick Best Espresso: MEDAGLIA D’ORO Medaglia D’Oro Instant Espresso Coffee
Some people don’t see a difference between regular coffee and espresso, but for the connoisseur, the differences are obvious: beans designated for espresso are generally roasted for a longer amount of time than beans meant for drip coffee and espresso beans are also ground on the finer side, more like sand than gravel. These seemingly small differences contribute to an espresso’s unique richer and more robust taste with its definitive, sassy bite.
While an espresso coffee is typically found in a café or derived from a special machine, there’s nothing like the convenience of being able to make a cup of instant espresso – instant gratification meets superior coffee taste.
If you’re searching for a quality espresso instant coffee, then this is the brand for you. Double-roasted coffee beans bring a traditional espresso coffee flavor to every cup. Made with the finest quality coffee beans, the romance begins the moment the boiling water hits the finely ground powder. Just add one teaspoon of Medaglia d’Oro Instant Coffee into a cup and add 6 ounces of hot water or milk and stir. The result is an unusually rich and aromatic cup of espresso from a company that has been making fine Italian espresso coffee since 1924.
- A blend of imported espresso coffees
- Double roasted
- Deep, traditional espresso coffee flavor
- Free of milk, peanut, egg, fish, crustacean shellfish, soy, tree nut or wheat allergens.
- More expensive than other brands
Top Pick Best for Starbucks Fans: Starbucks Via Instant Medium Roast Colombia Coffee
No need to buy beans, ground them and mess with a coffee machine to get Starbuck’s coffee at home – or anywhere – with these packets of Colombia coffee. As good as fresh-brewed Starbuck’s coffee, these portable packets are so convenient; you can take them anywhere and in an instant, you’re enjoying a balanced and smooth cup of coffee.
Made from 100 percent Arabica instant and micro-ground coffee, this package comes with 26 packets filled with 3.3 grams of delicious coffee, enough for you to share with friends. Just tear open a packet, add hot water, wait 10 seconds, and stir. Close your eyes, take a sip, and enjoy the rich, smooth taste of 100 percent Colombian Arabica coffee with that signature walnut flavor. You can thank us later.
- Starbucks Colombia coffee
- Smooth, balanced taste
- More expensive than other brands
Things to look out for:
Consider these things when looking for an instant coffee so you will choose one that best suits your tastes:
Most people choose a specific coffee brand for its taste, but another endearing feature of our favorite hot beverage is caffeine. Even if you’re not after a good caffeine jolt, you still may want to know how much caffeine is in a cup of the brew that you choose. Instant coffee generally contains slightly less caffeine than regular coffee. For example one cup of instant coffee made with one teaspoon of powder may contain between 30–90 mg of caffeine, while one cup of regular coffee contains between 70–140 mg of caffeine. That being said, if your coffee fix is truly all about the taste and you don’t want caffeine, then choose a decaffeinated brand of instant coffee. Some people would argue that decaf coffee doesn’t taste the same as regular coffee, but these days, there are a lot of decent brands of decaf instant coffee to choose from.
How the beans are roasted affects the taste and level of caffeine in a coffee. For example, some coffee tastes bright and fruity, others taste deep and dark, while some taste like toasted graham crackers or dark chocolate-covered raisins. The most pronounced flavor is usually determined by how intensely the beans are roasted. Light and dark roasts are the first indicator as to what your coffee is going to taste like.
Light roasted beans aren’t left on the roasting machine for as long as dark roasted beans, so there is more moisture inside the bean, making it denser. This results in a coffee with more caffeine, more brightness (also referred to as “acid,” but not actually chemically acidic), and more fruit-forward, herbal flavors. There will be more going on in terms of complexity in a light roast coffee, and if you are looking for more caffeine, then yes, a light roast has more of it.
These beans stay on the roasting machine for a longer time or at a higher temperature, which means they will lose more moisture, making them less dense, less caffeinated, and more full bodied with more straightforward, single-note in flavor.
Instant coffee comes in wide range of prices. Sometimes the price is a reflection of the quality of the coffee, as in ‘you get what you pay for.’ Never spend more than you can afford and keep in mind that organic instant coffee is usually more expensive.
Most instant coffee is just that: pure coffee. But there are brands that add special features like non-dairy creamer. An instant coffee such as this can be very convenient if you like coffee with cream but don’t have any in the house. Then there are instant coffees that have added vitamins, minerals or other ingredients that claim to boost the health factor of the drink. Often these drinks focus more on the added ingredients than the coffee flavor, so be aware before trying.
Instant coffee is made from whole coffee beans that are roasted, ground, and brewed. Then the water is removed from the brewed coffee, leaving dehydrated crystals. Instant coffee is either spray dried or freeze dried.
Spray dried: This is the most commonly used drying process where liquid coffee concentrate is sprayed as a fine mist into hot air, approximately 480 degrees Fahrenheit. By the time the coffee hits the ground, the water has evaporated, leaving behind dried small crystals. The quality of the aroma and flavor are preserved thanks to the very fast drying occurring during this process.
In this method, coffee is cooked down into an extract and then chilled at around 20 degrees Fahrenheit until it looks like a coffee slushy. This mixture is further chilled using a belt, drum, or tray at a temperature of -40 degrees Fahrenheit. Slabs of frozen coffee is formed and then broken into granules. These go into a drying vacuum where the ice is vaporized, leaving behind granules of instant coffee. The quality of the aroma and flavor are protected by the very low temperature and gentle drying conditions.
Which kind of instant coffee you choose based on the process or the roast is a personal choice but in the end, the most important factor is how the coffee tastes to you.