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Best Instant Coffee – Reviews, Buyer’s Guide and Coffee Hacks

A full-bodied cuppa joe is something most of us are quite proudly addicted to.

Stressed? Coffee please. Spent? Coffee please. Travel? Coffee please.

The addiction has lead us to demand coffee every morning whether we wake up at home, in a hotel, or on top of a mountain.

This, however, wouldn’t have been a possibility if not for the blessed presence of instant coffee.

Best Instant Coffee - Our Top Picks for 2020

In this review you’d find shortlisted possibilities of instant coffee that are currently among the best on the market.

Let’s have a look.

Sudden Coffee
  • Makes fresh and fragrant coffee
  • Easily customized for different drinks
  • Freeze-dried instead of spray-dried
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Waka Instant Coffee
  • Dissolves instantly in hot water
  • 100% Columbian
  • Uses the freeze dried method
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Starbucks VIA Ready Brew
  • A delightful taste
  • Quick and easy to brew
  • Packaging is compact and portable
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Mount Hagen Organic Instant
  • Quite rich in flavor
  • 100% organic
  • Affordably priced
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Maxwell House
  • Serves a delicious and creamy cup of joe
  • Available in many flavors
  • Easy to prepare
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Nescafe Clasico Instant Coffee
  • Brews a great cup
  • Inexpensive
  • Long shelf-life
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Douwe Egberts Pure Gold Instant Coffee
  • Tastes rich and deep
  • Comes in an attractive glass jar
  • Very convenient
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Folgers Instant Coffee Crystals
  • Coffee tastes good
  • Very convenient
  • Good value for the money
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Starbucks VIA Ready Brew Coffee, Decaf Italian Roast
  • Great, consistent flavor
  • Very convenient packaging for travel
  • Easy to make
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Jacob's Kronung Instant
  • Offers delicious instant coffee
  • Easy storage in a glass jar
  • Easy to make
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Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffee
  • Has many health benefits
  • Smooth, delicious taste
  • Good overall quality
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Treeline Coffee Roasters Geo
  • Real, delicious, pour-over coffee
  • Packed precisely for travel
  • Includes filters
Check Latest Price
Maxim Mocha Gold Mild Coffee Mix
  • Well-balanced taste
  • Super convenient
  • Great for travels
View on Amazon

1. Sudden Coffee - Best of the Best

With fresh flavors and a revolutionary brewing method, Sudden Coffee offers a new and exciting way to enjoy your favorite caffeinated beverages.

sudden coffee review

PROS

  • Makes fresh and fragrant coffee
  • Easily customized for different drinks
  • Freeze-dried instead of spray-dried
  • Tubes can be tucked away in purses and backpacks

CONS

  • Pricey

The problem with most instant coffee is that it goes stale before it can be brewed. Sudden Coffee, however, works on multiple levels to ensure freshness.

For starters, they only work with high-quality coffee beans. It's 100 percent arabica or bust.

They also brew their coffee in an unconventional way. Instead of using heated, spray-dried methods, they freeze-dry their coffee grounds and slowly dehydrate them in a controlled environment.

Finally, they pack all of their coffee into vacuum-sealed tubes. Not a single molecule of oxygen gets between the seal and the coffee grounds.

All of these things come together to make Sudden Coffee one of the best brands in instant coffee. Their flavors are fresh, full-bodied and aromatic, and best of all, they can be mixed in a flash. Just pour your tube into hot or cold water and mix it well.

Yes, we said hot or cold water! Another great thing about Sudden Coffee is that you can make all kinds of coffee beverages with their crystals. Whether you prefer iced lattes or steaming cappuccinos, Sudden Coffee can deliver.

The only downside of Sudden Coffee is that it isn't as cheap as other brands, but hey. You get what you pay for, especially in terms of freshness.

You may also check out our in-depth Sudden Coffee review updated for 2020.

Bottom Line

It's fresh. It's versatile. It's even recyclable. Why wouldn't you want a subscription with Sudden Coffee?


2. Waka Instant Coffee — 100% Colombian

“The closest you’ll get to a perfect cup in the outdoors.”

Waka Coffee Best Instant Coffee

PROS

  • Made from 100% arabica beans
  • Rich, deep tasting notes
  • Good coffee in seconds

CONS

  • A bit pricey

Like with Sudden Coffee, Waka uses the freeze drying method to keep its coffee crystals from being damaged by prolonged contact with heat. This gives the coffee a rich, bold flavor that you’re likely to find in a nice cafe.

Waka Coffee’s signature instant coffee is a 100% arabica offering from Colombia, but they’ll release more coffees soon. It comes packaged in a vacuum-sealed pouch that’s light, portable, and recyclable.

With deep earthy, dark chocolate, and mild roasty flavors, it’s a great option for people who like the ‘umph’ of a full-flavored dark roast, but hate how ashy and sour low-grade dark roasts often are.

The instant coffee powder dissolved instantly in hot water, though it’d probably also work in cold water, which means you can use it to make iced coffee on warmer days.

At $1.50 per cup, it’s less than you’d spend at the coffee shop, but a little more than some of its rivals—but when it comes to quality, if you like dark roasts, you’ll probably find it’s worth it.

Bottom Line

Many coffee companies struggle to walk the line between dark roast and burnt roast, but Waka Coffee gets the balance right. The Colombian instant coffee is rich and dark, but not ashy or charred, making it a great choice for dark roast enthusiasts with high standards.


“The closest you’ll get to a perfect cup in the outdoors.”

Starbucks VIA Ready Brew Coffe

PROS

  • A delightful taste
  • Quick and easy to brew
  • Packaging is compact and portable
  • Very convenient
  • Fairly priced

CONS

  • Trouble breaking the packet seal by hand

If you love both coffee and backpacking, then you need to get your hands on the Starbucks VIA. It has many reasons behind its climb to the top in our chart, but the taste is the most influential of all.

For a packet of instant coffee, flavor is something most of us have patiently practiced to ignore. We’ve gotten so used to the flavor, or lack of thereof, that the sole purpose of using instant coffee has boiled down to simply quenching the thirst of coffee on a day out.

Starbucks VIA, however, will treat you to a wonderful cup, perhaps the closest to the best coffee you’ve had.

Once mixed and dissolved in hot water, the burst of aroma is an unmistakable promise to your taste buds.

It has no sugar, and if black coffee is what you’re after, then you will need nothing but a stir from your spoon to call it a day.

Starbucks VIA’s popularity has brought identical duplicates to the market. This is something you really need to watch out for.

Don’t get carried away by the “Deals Plus!” siren calls that are often displayed all year long. These deals are highly unlikely to be real, or even if they were, the coffee sold have been reported to be expired.

Bottom Line

Well packed and compact, Starbucks VIA will serve you the ultimate cup of bold-favored joe. Everything from its size to taste and price is ideal for travel and if you’re someone who never liked the idea of ‘instant coffee’, Starbucks VIA will surely change your mind.


“A high-end choice, popular choice, even if you want to sugar-free.”

Maxwell House

PROS

  • Serves a delicious and creamy cup of joe
  • Available in many flavors
  • Unique, addictive taste
  • Convenient storage

CONS

  • The canister is quite small

Maxwell House coffee is a USA-born brand that has served coffee fiends for generations. One of the many reasons why it has managed to remain in the market, and in the hearts of customers for so long is its quality. One look at the packaging is enough to form a positive first impression.

With a maximum of 17 servings, each canister of Maxwell House’s instant coffee is resealable. You can add as many spoons as you prefer to your cup, and stow the rest away in your backpack without a care in the world.

The powdered drink comes in many flavors; each flavor, including the sugar-free, decaf French Vanilla, is a delight you’d instantly fall in love with.

What makes the taste distinct, however, is the creamy foam-like layer that builds on top of your cup, creating a close illusion of a latte.

The price is something that keeps many buyers off. But I think the entire package is lavish, and worth splurging a little for.

Not only would we recommend this for backpacking, but also as an alternative for coffee itself. Perhaps you could sneak into the kitchen and treat yourself to a delicious cup when you’re too lazy to brew.

Bottom Line

If you’ve detested the idea of sugar-free coffee, then you need to try Maxwell House right away. Taste is something you’ll gratefully embrace as it has served as an all-time favorite on the market.


“For budgeters, there isn’t a tastier alternative than the Nescafe Clasico.”

Nescafe Clasico Instant Coffee,7 Ounce (Pack of 2)

PROS

  • Brews a great cup
  • Inexpensive
  • Long shelf-life and convenient to use
  • Convenient storage

CONS

  • Travel is restricted due to the glass jar

Instant coffee had never been as inexpensive as the Nescafe Clasico. That being said, it’s important to note down that not only does it cost less upfront, but also in the long run as it requires only 6 ounces of coffee powder to fix a cup.

Being budget-friendly, however, doesn’t make Nescafe Clasico anything less than great in the taste department. The first thing that’ll hint you how good it’s going to be is the aroma.

Once added to a cup of hot water and stirred, the strong aroma could literally be used to wake a coffee-addict from his sleep!

For the best results, make sure you add the right amount of water. You might have to go through some trial and error until it feels right on your tongue.

Too little water will result in a burnt taste, and too much water will destroy the flavor altogether.

Backpacking is the only concern with Nescafe Clasico as the coffee comes in a glass jar.

Perhaps you should consider moving it into a plastic canister if you want to take it with you on a hike. After all, for the value the entire package adds, this could be treated as a minor inconvenience.

Bottom Line

If both the taste and the cost concerns you, at the expense of portability, then Nescafe Clasico is the ideal choice we’d recommend you make. Chances are, you might even consider ditching the tedious process of brewing for life!


“Opens the doors to the best in the European world of instant coffee.”

Douwe Egberts Pure Gold Instant Coffee, Medium Roast, 7.05-Ounce, 200g (Packaging May Vary)

PROS

  • Tastes rich and deep
  • Comes in an attractive glass jar
  • Very convenient
  • Good quality

CONS

  • Comes without instructions

Netherland is a coffee-drinking nation, and the Dutch don’t go a day without their signature Douwe Egberts’ coffee. As if that isn’t saying something, Douwe Egberts brand has remained on the market for centuries and generations of coffee fiends have feasted on it.

This particular type of instant coffee is no different to what one would except from such an ancient brand.

While it’s not the healthiest with the added artificial flavors, it tastes wonderfully good, with an addictive smell and a crema you’d surely love.

If you’re not a fan of very bold, dark coffee, then Douwe Egberts comes highly recommended to you. Even though the flavor is smooth and mild, it still has enough caffeine to jolt you awake.

Whether you’re a coffee lover or a tea lover looking for an occasional energy boost, Douwe Egberts instant coffee will certainly fit the bill.

On the downside, however, the best results will need a few more ounces than the recommended amount. This does sound disheartening, but given the initial price and the value generated, it isn’t a deal breaker at all.

Bottom Line

Instant coffee in the Europe is nearly as good as freshly-brewed coffee elsewhere. It might be hard to believe but all you need is a cuppa joe from Douwe Egberts to experience it!


“You get the best bang for your buck with the Coffee Crystals.”

Folgers Instant Coffee Crystals

PROS

  • Coffee tastes good
  • Very convenient
  • Good value for the money
  • Easy to use and store

CONS

  • Very small jar

If you’re looking for a jar of instant coffee for occasional use, then Folgers Instant Coffee Crystals is a wonderful choice to consider. It has a bitterness to it that only a coffee lover could love, and tastes better than what one would expect from instant coffee.

The prep time is one of the shortest in the industry as the Coffee Crystals dissolves fast in hot water. It works even with lukewarm water. Now that’s an added advantage, especially if you’re in the outdoors and have no access to hot water.

Once you add the recommended amount, or the amount that you prefer, into the water of your choice, stir it with a spoon a few times. The aroma of the Crystals alone will tempt you to steal a sip.

The biggest reason behind recommending the Coffee Crystals, however, is its price. While it’s not good in taste as our best pick, it costs less, around 1/3 of the cost of VIA – allowing you cut down on your coffee expenses.

That’s basically what makes it a steal, especially if you’re on the market to save money without compromising taste.

Bottom Line

If time and money are limiting factors, then Coffee Crystals will offer you the best value on the market. It has a taste that you could enjoy, and a price that won’t stop you from placing a buy.


“Decaf instant coffee can’t get any better than the Italian Roast.”

Starbucks VIA Ready Brew Coffee, Decaf Italian Roas

PROS

  • Great, consistent flavor
  • Very convenient packaging for travel
  • Reasonably priced

CONS

  • For optimum quality, quantity is compromised.

One of the highly-rated, and most sought-after instant coffees of all time is the Starbucks VIA. Out of its flavors, the Decaf Italian Roast is one of our favorites.

If you’ve been on the market for decaffeinated coffee, you’d know how bad some brands turn out to be. Sometimes, the beverage is called a coffee, but has nothing to do with it!

With Via’s Italian Roast however, taste is not something you’ll ever have to worry about. The rich and bold flavor is enough to make you forget that it’s decaffeinated in the first place.

The packaging, on the other hand, is very convenient as it comes in small individual packets.

It helps to preserve the freshness of the grounds, and lengthen the shelf-life. What’s more, you can effortlessly carry it in your backpack as well, and prepare a cup of Joe from just about anywhere.

The price factor is pretty good too. Instead of heading to Starbucks for a cuppa joe, you can save both money and time by fixing it with the Italian Roast.

Bottom Line

Starbucks VIA Italian Roast may not be the real coffee you’d have had in your local store, but it’s the closest you’ll ever get to it. Not to mention that you can do so at a cheaper price and shorter prep time with the added advantage of being able to enjoy it literally from any corner of the world!


“Looking for an instant cuppa Joe? Nah, try cuppa Jacob.”

Jacob's Coffee Jacobs Kronung Instant

PROS

  • Offers delicious instant coffee
  • Easy storage in a glass jar
  • Easy to make

CONS

  • Not a decaf so the green package is misleading

Whether it be exams or work keeping you up in the wee hours of the morning, you can head straight into the kitchen and fix you a quick cup of instant Jacobs Kronung. Give it a stir after adding a desired amount into hot water – and whoosh, you’d be wide awake and ready with the caffeine kick to get back to work.

Jacobs Kronung Instant is a coffee that falls into everything moderate. The strength of coffee, to begin with, is neither too strong, nor too weak – a moderate texture that can please just about anyone.

The price is moderate too, and a relief for buyers used to the high cost of instant coffee. You can perhaps get this coffee into your morning routine where time is a crucial factor, and still be left with nothing to complain about!

It comes in a nice little glass jar as well. I’d say that some non-coffee drinkers buy it more for the jar than for an occasional cup of joe.

It offers not only convenient storage, but also a longer shelf life. But it’s the jar you should risk taking on your outdoor adventures.

Bottom Line

As far as instant coffee goes, Jacobs Kronung gives a great value for the money. It’s neither short of a good taste, nor convenience, which are in fact the basic requirements to grab a buy. And in case you don’t know; it’s a German brand, so the quality isn’t at stake as well.


“The go-to instant coffee for health fanatics."

Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffee

PROS

  • Has many health benefits
  • Smooth, delicious taste
  • Good overall quality
  • A vegan product

CONS

  • On the expensive side

Do mushroom coffees truly live up to the hype? Are they as easy on the stomach as they claim to be? Well, in our quest to find answers to these frequently asked questions, we came head-on with Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffee.

To start off with, Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffee actually does taste like coffee. The addition of mushrooms has only seemed to have smoothen the flavor, and removed the bitter taste entirely. Even if you’ve never tasted mushroom coffees before, there’s a high chance that you’d actually like it.

It is also a vegan coffee; no animals, insects or bugs are used in producing it. Instead, grain-free liquid mycelium is extracted and combined with ground coffee at a percentage that ensures a great blend of aroma and taste.

The price is considered to be a deal breaker for many. But given the medicinal, anti-inflammatory benefits of mushrooms, and the perfect balance of taste, Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffee fairly priced.

Bottom Line

To prove those who say coffee isn’t healthy, and enjoy a challenging flavor, treat yourself to a cup of Four Sigmatic Mushroom instant coffee. Easy to brew, carry and store, this one is ideal for occasional use.


“Pre-packed in a pour over, Geo is a luxury treat in the great outdoors.”

treeline geo

PROS

  • Real, delicious, pour-over coffee
  • Packed precisely for travel
  • Includes filters
  • Very convenient

CONS

  • Brewing takes time

If the absence of good coffee is the only thing that dampens the fun from your outdoor adventures, then Geo could be the answer to your prayers. It is actually a pour-over, but pre-packed to offer you the convenience of instant coffee.

In fact, with Geo, you no longer have to be indoors to enjoy the delicacies of real coffee. Even if you’re in the middle of the Sahara, or at the top of Mount Everest, you can easily fix and enjoy a pour-over cup.

For the best results, use only hot water to brew and since it’s a pour-over coffee, you need to add it continuously into the small filter.

The biggest con, however, is that Geo needs more time to brew, at least 2 minutes to be precise. It almost ruins the whole idea of being ‘instant.’

But for a coffee junkie, who not only enjoys coffee but also the aroma it produces, the wait could hardly be considered an inconvenience.

Bottom Line

Geo is real, and so is its coffee. The grounds aren’t fresh, but are of high quality and it doesn’t come with additives that falter the taste of coffee. If you want the real thing no matter where you’re headed, then we hold nothing back in recommending it to you.


“Get your hands on the Korean version of instant coffee.”

Maxim Mocha Gold Mild Coffee Mix

PROS

  • Well-balanced taste
  • Super convenient
  • Great for travels
  • Works well as an iced coffee

CONS

  • Coffee packets maybe small

From K-pop to K-drama and K-food, Koreans have a way of winning hearts. Their culture has so many traits that grabs anyone who’d pay close attention to. The same can be said about the Korean-brand Maxim Mocha which has served Koreans with a quick fix for years.

Anyone on the go will find the convenience and taste of Maxim Mocha irreplaceable. It comes in individual packets that can easily be stuffed into a bag for travels and tastes almost as good as freshly brewed coffee.

The caffeine kick is very much present, enabling you to keep your stubborn eyelids open.

All you have to do is to put the drink powder into your cup of hot water and stir it well. Not only are the packets convenient to store, but also to tear in to. You can prepare it as an ice coffee as well, and treat yourself to a jovial cup during warm summer evenings.

The taste of this coffee isn’t strong, but light and smooth. If you’re a fan of dark-roast coffee beans, then this Korean coffee certainly isn’t worth your time of day.

Bottom Line

If you prefer a generous amount of coffee, cream and sugar all in one, then Maxim Mocha will fit the bill. It is a near-perfect beverage that scores high in terms of taste, convenience and value.


“A convenient and inexpensive alternative that will keep you going.”

Mount Hagen Organic Instant Regular Coffee

PROS

  • Quite rich in flavor
  • 100% organic
  • Affordably priced
  • Light packaging ensures portability

CONS

  • One packet might be too weak for a single cup

If you prefer a milder and smoother instant cup of joe, as opposed to heavy and dark, then Mount Hagen Organic Instant Coffee is the best place to get started. It doesn’t have the acidic taste often found in instant coffee, and that allows you to enjoy a wonderful cup.

The biggest selling point of Mount Hagen Organic Instant Coffee, however, is advertised in the name itself. It is fair trade and certified to be 100% organic by the EcoCert; one of the largest organic certification organizations in the world.

The coffee is said to be freeze-dried without chemicals or additives. Meaning - you’re neither swallowing down a cup full of chemicals, nor harming the environment in the process.

On a day out trekking or camping, make sure you pack this little packet of delight. With absolutely zero hassle, unpack it, add water and stir it well. The resulting aroma and taste will live up to your expectations.

However, do remember to be realistic with your expectations. It’s universally accepted that no instant coffee can ever replace a cup of freshly brewed coffee. But as an affordable, reasonably close alternative, the Mount Hagen will serve you well in the outdoors.

Bottom Line

If you’re a buyer on the market looking for a temporary and inexpensive replica of home-made coffee, then Mount Hagen will fit the bill. The coffee is smooth, and consistent enough to give you a much-needed energy boost on your day out.


How to Choose the Best Instant Coffee - A Buyer's Guide

Instant coffee is almost as popular as freshly-brewed.

Some brands offer a quality close to what you might expect in a cup straight from your favorite coffeehouse. So make the right choice, but first have a look at our Buyer’s Guide.

instant coffee

Beans and the Roast

If you’ve developed a special liking towards coffee from a particular country, then take it into account when making your choice. Some of the popular countries you’d come across are Italy, Netherlands, Korea and Colombia.

You should also take your preferred roast into consideration; whether it be light, medium or dark. Believe it or not, the market is filled with a variety of instant coffees that you’d surely stumble upon the one ideal for you.

Caffeine Levels

Make sure you check the caffeine level before you place a buy especially if you’re pregnant, or have young children who’d consume what you buy. The levels are displayed in grams per serving. It’s better to minimize the intake if it contains more than 60 grams per serving, or avoid them altogether.

Additives and Flavors

Instant coffees include additives that facilitate the process of fast-brewing. Some coffees even have a delicious layer of crema achieved by the addition of additives and flavors.

You might already have developed both likes and dislikes related to certain flavors. So make sure you check them up beforehand!

Packaging

Ask yourself the reason for buying instant coffee. If it is for travel, then look for a brand with individual packets. If it is for daily use, then perhaps you’d be better off buying coffee that comes in a fancy little jar or canister.

Price

Instant coffee becomes expensive if you consume it on a daily basis. With that in mind, look for the cost per serving and decide on the brand you’d choose. Most brands also offer attractive discounts when you buy in bulk.

Instant Coffee Tips

  • Try dissolving the powder into cold water first, then add hot water.
  • Don’t follow the instructions on proportions, let your taste buds do the talking.
  • Flavor your cup with cocoa powder, vanilla, or cinnamon.
  • Try replacing water with hot milk
  • Use a blender and grind your coffee with a spoon of butter or oil (Don’t say yuck without having tasted it!)
  • Instant coffee is actually a secret ingredient of bakers!
instant coffee cup

Not everyone believed that they could compromise the taste of freshly-brewed, for the convenience of instant coffee. But the norm is soon becoming a thing of the past! – don’t take our word for it, instead sip in a cup from our list.

Good luck!


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Dennies is the founder and editor-in-chief of Dripped Coffee. He is a trained barista who knows coffee like the back of his hand. When he's not brewing coffee, you can find him fishing or swimming.

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