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Instant coffee is a convenient way to get your caffeine fix while you’re camping and traveling. It’s lightweight, quick to make, and cheap. But can we find one that actually tastes good?
In this taste test, I compared 6 of the most common instant coffees in a blind taste test.
I wanted to only review the instant coffees that can be easily found and purchased at your local grocery stores or online.
Which one comes out on top? Let’s just say that the results of this really surprised me. Read on below for the full breakdown!
Instant Coffee Taste Test Video:
Prefer to watch it? Check out my YouTube video below!
The Testing Method
Since this was a blind taste test, Nick was behind the scenes to fill and label all the coffee cups.
I had 6 coffee cups with letters on the bottom that each corresponded with a different instant coffee. I used a star-rating system from 1 to 5 stars, with 5 being the best.
Lastly, I did this taste test twice to see if there was some consistency in the coffees that I liked and didn’t like.
The order that I tried the coffee was also different between the rounds.
It was important for me to do a blind taste test for this so that my biases about brands and price did not interfere with the results.
The Instant Coffees We Tested
As I mentioned, all of these coffees are pretty easy to find. I purchased most of them at my local grocery store.
- Starbucks Via
- Nescafe Tasters Choice
- Alpine Start
- Mount Hagen
- Folgers Classic Roast
- Cafe Bustelo
Amanda’s Top 2:
- First Place: Mount Hagen
- Runner Up: Cafe Bustelo
The Instant Coffee We Tested
Starbucks Via Instant
- Type: 100% arabica instant and microground coffee
- Weight: 3.3g per packet
- Price: about 60¢ per serving
Tasting Notes: I wrote in my notes that this coffee was “okay”. After I tried it for a second time, I liked it even less. The aftertaste was really bitter.
Verdict: Completely average instant coffee at a slightly above average price. Based on the verdict of some of the other coffees I tested, I would not buy this one again.
Nescafe Tasters Choice
- Type: 100% “pure” instant coffee (whatever that means)
- Weight: 3g per packet
- Price: 16¢ per serving
Tasting Notes: Tasted very similar to the Starbucks coffee above. I did not like this one – bitter, gross aftertaste, and overall unpleasant to drink.
Verdict: Would not buy again.
- Type: 100% high altitude Colombian arabica coffee
- Weight: 3.1g per packet
- Price: about $1.12 per serving
Tasting Notes: The packaging says that this is a medium roast, but it tastes much more like a bitter dark roast. The aftertaste made it even worse and unpleasant to drink.
Verdict: Would not buy again. For one, I think the price of this coffee is way too high for an instant coffee. I might be willing to splurge if it actually tasted good, but this was my least favorite coffee on the list. When Nick did the taste test, this was also his least favorite.
- Type: organic fairtrade
- Weight: 2g per packet
- Price: 40¢ per serving
Tasting Notes: A rich and smooth cup of coffee. It was slightly sweet and overall had a lot of enjoyable flavors and no bitter aftertaste.
Verdict: This is a delicious cup of coffee! I was surprised to find an instant coffee that I actually enjoyed drinking. This was my first choice and I would definitely buy it again.
Where to Buy: Amazon
Folgers Classic Roast
- Type: 100% “pure” coffee (whatever that means)
- Weight: 2g per packet
- Price: 14¢ per serving
Tasting Notes: This was a very bitter cup of coffee. There was not a whole lot of flavor beyond the dark almost burnt flavor, but the aftertaste wasn’t too bad.
Verdict: I would place this one right in line with the Starbuck Via. While I didn’t really enjoy this one, Nick actually liked this one a lot!
- Type: no info
- Weight: 2.6g per packet
- Price: about 19¢ per serving*
Tasting Notes: This was surprisingly a flavorful cup of coffee! It wasn’t too bitter and or too dark of a roast.
Verdict: This was my second favorite. The flavor really surprised me (especially for the price!) and I enjoyed drinking this one. I would buy it again.
Where to Buy: Amazon
*I bought a box of 6 at my local grocery store for $1.19 per box. I’m not sure why the prices online are so much higher, but if you do want to try it, I suggest checking your grocery store first before buying it online.
That wraps up my instant coffee taste test!
Needless to say, more expensive does not always equal better coffee.
While you can find reviews of people loving and hating each of these coffees, at the end of the day, the best coffee for you is the one you like, right?
For me, that was the Mount Hagen instant coffee. It’s a delicious cup of instant coffee for all my road trips and camping trips, not to mention, it’s also a great price!
Have you tried any of these instant coffees? What did you think?
We had a lot of fun doing this blind taste test, and I encourage you to give it a try!
You might be surprised by the results.