Best Instant Coffee Brands for 2023
Instant coffee can be a great option if you’re traveling or don’t want the fuss of using a coffee maker. Instant coffee is coffee that has been brewed and dried so that it’s ready immediately–no equipment needed!
Traditionally, instant coffee is just made from coffee, but you can also find mixes of creamer, sugar, and even added nutrients. Read on for the best instant coffee brands you can buy right now.
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The Best Instant Coffee Reviews 2023
Best instant coffee reviews in 2023 will show you how easy it is to find great instant coffees to satisfy your taste buds. While this may not have been true in the past, today it is. Whether you’re looking for a bright single-origin or want to make a convenient crema topped instant espresso, there’s something here for you.
|Mount Hagen Organic Fair Trade||
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|Alpine Start Dirty Chai Latte||
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|Laird Superfood Instafuel||
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|Waka Coffee Decaf Colombian||
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|Starbucks VIA Instant Colombia||
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|Four Sigmatic Think Mushroom Coffee||
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|Nescafe Gold Instant Espresso||
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Mount Hagen produces Homegrounds’ favorite instant coffee. Named after a town in the Papua New Guinea Highlands, the brand brings the flavors of the country to your kitchen with the convenience of instant coffee.
The beans used to make this coffee are 100% arabica, sourced from high-altitude farms in Papua New Guinea. They’ve been given a medium roast, then brewed and freeze-dried to retain the flavor.
There are many reasons we’ve nominated this as our pick for the best instant coffee. As well as the rich flavor, we love that it’s certified organic and fair trade, and it’s also incredibly affordable.
The only downside we can see here is if you take sugar and creamer. This contains coffee only, so you’ll need to pack your additives separately if you’re going camping.
To make a cup of coffee, you’ll need 1-2 teaspoons of this instant coffee, so depending on how strong you want your coffee, the jar contains up to 50 servings.
Mount Hagen Organic Fair Trade instant coffee is at $10.58 per 3.5 oz jar.
Alpine Start has a rock climber and outdoor adventurer for its owner. He founded the company to meet his own needs for a delicious morning brew, whether days into a hike or halfway up a cliff face.
Alpine Start built this instant coffee to fuel adventure, so it’s no surprise that the signature Dirty Chai Latte packs a flavorful punch.
Alpine Start is 100% high-altitude arabica beans from Colombia, famed for their nutty aftertaste. Alpine Start blends the beans with black tea, soy milk powder, and traditional Chai spices, including cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, coriander, and ginger.
The advantage to this instant coffee is that you have your coffee and creamer all in one and the extra flavor from the tea and spices. It’s dairy and sugar-free, making it more suitable for people with dietary restrictions. That all adds up to it being our best cheap instant coffee.
Be aware that you’re getting less coffee per serving with any coffee containing additives. You also don’t have the option to drink coffee black some days.
Mix a single 0.7 oz packet with 8 oz of hot or cold water to make coffee.
Alpine Start Dirty Chai Latte instant coffee is at $8.99 per box of 5 single-serve packets.
Laird Superfood is the brainchild of professional surfer Laird Hamilton. He developed his Superfood coffee creamer at home to fuel his adventures, but it soon found a popular following among athletes and coffee enthusiasts.
This freeze-dried instant coffee contains 100% arabica Peruvian coffee combined with the Superfood brand creamer. The creamer consists of coconut milk powder, organic coconut sugar, extra virgin coconut oil, and Aquamin, a mineral that benefits bone and joint health (1).
Laird Superfuel is a good choice for anyone with dietary restrictions, as it’s gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free, and Paleo Magazine has also approved it. We at Homegrounds also like that it’s a non-GMO, organic, and fair trade instant coffee.
This brand is only available in bags, so it might not be as convenient to pack for a day trip as coffee that comes in single-serve sachets.
The suggested serving is four tablespoons of Laird Superfuel dissolved in 12 oz of hot water, and this is a larger serving size than most instant coffee.
Laird Superfuel is at $13.77 per 8 oz bag or $26.99 per 1 lb bag.
Waka Coffee is a newcomer to the instant market, looking to deliver higher-end products for the modern coffee drinker.
Waka Colombian decaf instant coffee begins with single-origin arabica coffee beans grown and harvested in the mountains of Colombia. Waka decaffeinates via the sugar-cane-ethyl-acetate method. This process avoids the use of high heat or pressure, which can disrupt the cellular structure of the green beans.
The advantage to buying Waka Coffee quality instant coffee is that you’re helping to support local economies. The brand donates 4% of its profits to funding clean water initiatives in the regions that source their beans.
The main downside to this instant decaf coffee is that it’s a little more expensive than other instant coffee brands. Some coffee lovers also say that it doesn’t dissolve as well in cold water.
The suggested serving is 1-2 teaspoons of Waka instant coffee with 8-10 oz of water. Mix one instant coffee stick with 8-10 oz of water when using single-serve sachets.
Waka Coffee Decaf Colombian is at $25.99. Discover more about the brand with our Waka instant coffee review.
Starbucks coffee isn’t a brand Homegrounds would typically recommend. But Starbucks’ VIA instant coffee collection changed the way people looked at instant coffee. They were among the first coffee makers to recognize a market for instant coffee varieties that didn’t sacrifice good taste for convenience (2).
We are going to reinvent the company, reinvent the category. This is not your mothers’ instant coffee.
This coffee uses 100% arabica beans sourced from Colombia. Starbucks combines a mix of freeze-dried coffee and micro-ground coffee for extra flavor and caffeine. Each packet contains 135 mg of caffeine, making it the strongest on our list (though Death Wish Coffee makes the strongest on the market).
The downside of this medium roast instant coffee is that it’s only suitable for making hot coffee, so it’s not a good choice for making iced coffee or other cold drinks.
To prepare a cup of coffee, add one sachet to 8 oz of hot water.
The price of Starbucks VIA Instant Colombia is priced at $48.69 per box of 8 single-serve instant coffee packets.
Four Sigmatic is a statistical term used when referring to the 100 most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. This Finish company was founded to incorporate as many of them as possible into their products. But don’t worry–you might be drinking mushrooms, but you certainly won’t be tasting them.
Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffee is first and foremost a blend of 100% organic, fair trade, arabica beans, dark roast, brewed, and spray-dried into instant powder. For the Think flavor, the additives are:
- Lion’s mane mushroom for focus.
- Chaga mushroom for energy and endurance (3).
- Rhodiola Rosea root for concentration and memory.
The advantage of this coffee is that it’s said to provide focused energy without the crash that sometimes happens after consuming caffeine. It’s also organic, vegan, sugar-free, and low in caffeine. For this reason, this coffee is one of HomeGrounds’ most recommended mushroom coffees.
The downside to this brand is that it’s a little higher than other instant coffees.
To prepare Four Sigmatic’s Mushroom Coffee Mix, combine one sachet with 8 oz of hot water.
Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffee is at $13.50 per box of 10 sachets.
Watch Steven from Homegrounds review this brand, as well as other nootropic coffees, in the following video:
Nescafe is a company that needs no introduction. It’s been researching instant coffee for nearly 100 years and holds the largest market share worldwide. Nescafe Gold is made with 100% arabica coffee beans for a smooth, balanced flavor.
The key difference with this instant coffee is that it’s designed for people who like espresso rather than regular coffee. Nescafe has managed to replicate the crema found on brewed espresso. This is often a particular challenge for producers, as the pressure of the espresso machine forms crema. This instant coffee also dissolves well in cold water, making it a good choice for iced coffee or frappes.
The downside to Nescafe is that it’s not specialty instant coffee, and it’s not a good choice if you’re looking for organic, fair trade, or single-origin coffee.
To prepare an espresso-style coffee, mix 1-2 teaspoons of Nescafe Gold instant coffee crystals with 50 ml of water. Mix 1-2 teaspoons with 250 ml of water for an Americano.
Nescafe Gold Instant Espresso is at around $19.95 per 3.5 oz jar.
How to Choose Good Instant Coffee
Instant coffee is quite different from ground beans, although it’s made from coffee. To choose good instant coffee, you must look at which qualities are still important and what’s no longer relevant. Here’s a guide to help you buy the best instant coffees for your needs.
What is Instant Coffee?
Instant coffee is ground coffee that has been brewed then dehydrated. The dehydration process consists of spray-drying or freeze-drying for creating soluble coffee crystals. For a more in-depth look at the process, check out Homegrounds’ guide to how instant coffee is made.
The most basic version of dried instant coffee contains only coffee. However, many instant coffee brands add powdered sweetener or creamer so that brewing your morning cup of coffee is even more convenient, particularly if you’re traveling. Some instant coffees also have ingredients added to provide health benefits.
The main thing that separates instant coffee from regular coffee is convenience. As the name suggests, it’s instant–there’s no brewing time or equipment needed, like for coffee steep bags. It also has a much longer shelf life than regular coffee and can be cheaper depending on the brand.
How Will You Use It?
Choosing instant coffee comes down to how you plan to use it (4). Opt for value over quality if you mainly want to make frappes or add coffee flavor to your baking. You won’t need to worry about the instant coffee’s taste.
Convenience is the product’s main strength, but that won’t last as freshly-brewed coffee is now much quicker and easier to make at home.
If you want an alternative to whole beans for your next backcountry trip, go for the best-tasting instant coffee. You’ll appreciate it after a long hike. You may also want to look for ones with health-boosting additives to better fuel your adventure or creamer for an all-in-one solution.
If you want a delicious coffee without the effort of mastering the perfect pour-over, look for high-quality instant coffee brands. These coffees will offer the same rich and nuanced flavors as a standard brew but in a more convenient package.
Choose Arabica Over Robusta (For Flavor)
There are two main coffee varieties cultivated today, Arabica and Robusta. Arabica makes up about three-quarters of the world’s coffee crops. For most people, Arabicas are the best-tasting coffee beans with more nuanced and sweeter flavors. In comparison, Robusta beans have darker, earthier flavors that aren’t as popular with high-end roasters. However, they are easier and less expensive to grow, so they’re traditionally the beans used to make instant coffee (5).
Nowadays, plenty of freeze-dried instant coffee is made from 100% Arabica beans.
Though they might be slightly more expensive, these are indeed the ones to seek out for coffee rich in flavor, particularly if you like to drink it black (6). Or you can choose to get Café Bustelo instead. It is the first brand to bring Latin coffee to the US market. This brand carries an instant coffee line, that is a blend of Robusta and Arabica beans. You can learn more about the brand in our Cafe Bustelo review.
Roast Still Matters
Coffee producers roast a lot of instant coffees to a generic medium-dark roast. Most consumers around the globe prefer the medium-dark roast due to its balanced and approachable flavors. But if you love a bright light roast or super dark roasts (such as a French roast), there are now-worthy options. The higher-end producers who are starting to get into the instant coffee market recognize the importance of using the proper roast to highlight the character of the beans.
With new production techniques and a revived interest in the market, you can choose from plenty of delicious instant coffee. Our pick for the best instant coffee in 2023 is Mount Hagen Organic Fair Trade. It’s a terrific value product with all the coffee flavor that only quality, single-origin beans can provide. It’s also our pick for the best organic instant coffee.
Yes, instant coffee is healthy, provided that you consume it in moderation. The health benefits of instant coffee are the same as regular coffee. They include an increase in energy, reduced risk of disease including Parkinson’s, cirrhosis of the liver, cancer, and diabetes, as well as lower levels of depression. You should limit the consumption of instant coffee to around 3-4 cups per day.
The nutritional values of instant coffee are the same as regular coffee if it doesn’t contain any additives. An 8 oz cup of coffee made from instant coffee powder contains two calories, 300 mg protein, 4.7 mg calcium, 116 mg potassium, 7 mg magnesium, 7 mg phosphorus, and 4.7 mg sodium.
The difference between instant coffee vs ground coffee is that instant coffee has already been brewed and dried, whereas ground coffee is simple ground coffee beans that still need brewing. Instant coffee is soluble in water with no residue, whereas ground coffee needs to be filtered out. The two coffees have very different tastes. Drinking instant coffee does not give you the depth of coffee made with coffee grounds and is often bitter.
- Frestedt, J.L., Kuskowski, M.A., Zenk, J.L. (2009, February 2). A natural seaweed derived mineral supplement (Aquamin F) for knee osteoarthritis: A randomised, placebo controlled pilot study. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2642861/
- Miller, C. (2009, November 8). Starbucks makes a move to instant coffee. Retrieved form https://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/18/business/worldbusiness/18iht-sbux.3.20281557.html
- Sen, M. (2017, February 1). The Hidden Wartime Origins of Mushroom Coffee. Retrieved from https://food52.com/blog/18958-the-hidden-wartime-origins-of-mushroom-coffee
- Newton, T. (2018, January 22). Coffee Wars: Should You Drink Instant or Whole Bean? Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2018/01/coffee-wars-should-you-drink-instant-or-whole-bean/
- Origin and History of Instant Coffee. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.historyofcoffee.net/coffee-history/instant-coffee-history/
- The Benefits of Instant Coffee. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://cafealtura.com/instant-coffee-benefits/