Sometimes, brewing a fresh cup of coffee is just not an option.
Maybe you want to avoid the hassle of brewing it yourself, or perhaps you don’t have a brewing machine. You don’t carry an espresso machine with you on a long hike, do you?
But a caffeine craving doesn’t care if you’re hiking or not. Most specialty coffee subscriptions require brewing which can take from several minutes to as long as 45 minutes depending on the machine.
In desperate situations, instant coffee can be a lifesaver. It’s convenient when you’re in a hurry or can’t access a brewing machine.
There are many brands of instant coffee on the market, and picking one can be an uphill task. To help you, we’ve compiled a list of the best instant coffee available so you can spend less time shopping and more time enjoying your drink.
Here’s the list of the best instant coffee brands in 2021.
Best Instant Coffee Brands
- Best Overall: Mount Hagen Organic Fair Trade Freeze Dried Instant Coffee
- Best Light Roast: Waka Coffee Quality Instant Coffee
- Best Decaf: Starbucks VIA Instant Decaf Italian Roast
- Best Single Serve: Steeped Coffee Single Serve
- Best Medium Roast: Folgers Classic Roast Instant Coffee Crystals
- Best Dark Roast: Starbucks VIA Instant Italian Roast Dark Roast Coffee
- Best Organic: Café Altura Organic Instant Coffee
- Best Single Origin: Sudden Coffee Single Origin Instant Coffee
Best Overall: Mount Hagen Organic Fair Trade Freeze Dried Instant Coffee
It feels good to know that whatever you’re drinking is not only flavorful but also healthy. Mount Hagen is 100% organic; no harmful pesticides, herbicides, or inorganic fertilizers were used when growing it.
The single-origin coffee is also fair trade for the well-being of farmers and an award-winning kosher brand.
It has a mild velvety flavor and it’s ultra smooth. Unlike other cheaper brands, it’s not bitter or acidic. Instead, it has a rich, complex flavor unique to Papua New Guinea.
The grounds come in a glass jar that can make approximately 60x 6 oz cups of coffee.
The jar is well sealed to keep the coffee fresh and it’s an ideal choice for people who prefer medium to dark roasts.
“I first tried Mount Hagen while traveling and was so impressed with it I started keeping a jar in my cupboard at home…” - Derek Rose, The Spruce Eats
Best Light Roast: Waka Coffee Quality Instant Coffee
Waka instant coffee is made from 100% superior quality Arabica beans. To keep it fresh and preserve the flavor and aroma, it’s freeze-dried and packaged in single-serve packets.
It’s light roasted and has tasting notes of hazelnut and chocolate with a nice dry finish. Also, it’s low in acidity, so it won’t upset your stomach.
Waka Coffee LLC donates 4% of their proceeds to support efforts to provide clean drinking water to 26 countries in Asia, Africa, and Central and South America. You’ll not only be enjoying your drink but also supporting a worthy course.
"Waka is a truly impressive instant coffee." - Delish
Best Decaf: Starbucks VIA Instant Decaf Italian Roast
If you prefer your coffee without the caffeine buzz, you’ll love Starbucks VIA Instant Decaf Italian Roast coffee.
This high-quality dark roast coffee is smooth with a rich flavor and notes of caramel. It’s made from ethically-sourced 100% Arabica beans that pack a bold taste.
It’s naturally decaffeinated to retain maximum flavor.
Decaf coffee is often said to be “flavorless,” but with this one, expect the taste to be close to the normal coffee you get at Starbucks.
It’s packed in a bag containing 50x 5.8 oz packets. You’ll only need to tear the packet, pour the contents into a mug, add hot water, wait for about 10 seconds, then stir and enjoy.
According to Business Insider coffee expert Dylan Ettinger, “If you want a solid instant coffee that you don't have to go out of your way for, the Starbucks Via line is one of the better options you can find at the supermarket.”
Best Single Serve: Steeped Coffee Single Serve
This is a single-serve specialty instant coffee that’s packed like tea bags, and it steeps in hot water just like tea!
The California Blend medium roast is sourced from farmers and hand-roasted in batches. It’s then nitro-sealed to remove oxygen and keep it fresh, thus retaining the original flavor.
The bags are also ultrasonic-sealed to preserve aroma by sealing the aroma valves.
This premium coffee has tasting notes of toasted coconut, fudge, and chocolate. It also has a citrusy and slightly nutty flavor.
Specialty coffee graders and baristas have tested and approved it for its premium taste, unmatched freshness, and superior quality.
Entrepreneur’s Handbook agrees:
“You’re likely going to see the Steeped Coffee methodology in hospitals, offices, hotels — places where single-serve coffee reigns — and perhaps on your next flight.”
That’s not all. It’s kosher-approved, organic, keto-friendly, and gluten-free! You don’t need pods or machines to make yourself a perfect cup of coffee. Just dunk the steeped bag, pour over hot water, and wait for the coffee to steep until you achieve your desired taste.
Some coffee lovers steep coffee in cold water and add ice to make iced coffee. However, making a cold brew with steeped instant coffee is an overnight process; thus, it doesn’t make for a quick instant drink when steeped in cold water.
Best Medium Roast: Folgers Classic Roast Instant Coffee Crystals
A cup of coffee rich in flavor is a great way to start your morning. Folgers is one of the most famous brands for their instant coffees.
Folgers instant coffee is a particular favorite for medium roast lovers. It comes in the form of crystals that dissolve quickly to make the perfect drink.
You can use it in a variety of recipes such as creamy instant coffee, cinnamon, and coffee fudge, as it dissolves easily into butter and sauces.
The instant coffee has a smooth, full-body flavor. Folgers uses mountain-grown beans to make the crystals, which gives them a sweet aroma and a rich, delicious taste.
The 100% Arabica coffee crystals come in an 8 oz flip-top jar. However, opening the jar frequently allows air in which can reduce the coffee’s strength.
Alternatively, you can opt for individual packets.
Folgers works with UTZ to ensure environmentally-friendly practices, safety procedures, and sustainable practices, so you can feel good about your cup of joe.
Best Dark Roast: Starbucks VIA Instant Italian Roast Dark Roast Coffee
If you love a strong, dark roast shot of caffeine, Starbucks VIA Italian Roast coffee is the ultimate choice.
Made with 100% Arabica coffee beans, this instant coffee has a rich flavor and sweet caramelized sugar notes.
This is the drink you need to refill your energy and jump-start your morning. The VIA instant coffee has a relatively high caffeine content, with each serving containing 130-140 mg of caffeine.
It comes in a box of 8 ready-to-brew single-serve packets. You can make freshly-brewed coffee anywhere, anytime. Simply tear a VIA Instant Italian roast coffee packet, add hot water, and stir.
It’s also available in boxes of 5, 6, and 50 packets.
Best Organic: Café Altura Organic Instant Coffee
Organic fair trade instant coffees are scarce on the market. Café Altura’s is certified organic, non-GMO, and kosher certified.
It comprises a blend of Arabica coffee from Africa, Indonesia, and South America, freeze-dried to maintain the rich taste and aroma of fresh coffee.
It has a balanced taste and delivers a flavorful and rich cup of joe with a smooth finish and seductive aroma.
Additionally, you don’t need a brewing machine or a grinder to make a perfect cup of coffee. Just put 1-2 teaspoons of the instant coffee in a cup, add hot water, and stir.
You can add milk or sweeter if you wish. It comes in a 3.5 oz jar that can make 60 servings, and it’s available as an instant coffee or decaf instant coffee.
Best Single Origin: Sudden Coffee Single Origin Instant Coffee
The single-origin nature of Sudden Coffee affords perfect consistency in every cup. Every batch has a flavor profile unique to the area it was sourced from.
The pour-over method used to brew the coffee beans results in instant coffee with fruity and complex flavor notes.
It is then freeze-dried in small batches to preserve the flavor and aroma of fresh coffee. Unlike other instant coffee brands, Sudden Coffee isn’t bitter.
This brew also boasts a chocolatey aroma, gentle acidity, and caramel sweetness. It’s silky texture, medium-body, and butter-like smoothness is similar to that of an americano.
You can make hot or iced coffee, use it in ice cream, smoothies, or baking.
The crystallized coffee is individually packaged in compostable tubes and comes in a pack of 8 single-serve tubes.
Instant Coffee Not Your Thing? Try Our Specialty Coffee
Instant coffee is a quick source of caffeine when you’re in a hurry, out in the woods, or just not in the mood for brewing a cup. Although instant coffees are known to be bitter and not the best coffee in terms of flavor and aroma, you can still find several decent options.
However, if instant coffee is not your thing, there’s a wide variety of coffee brews you can make from the comfort of your home.
To ensure you never run dry on your coffee supply, consider these new and delicious specialty coffee subscriptions. You get expertly roasted whole bean coffee every month — plus, our office plans will provide the caffeine you need to cheer up your office. No more Monday blues.