Instant coffee doesn’t always deserve the bad rap it gets from coffee connoisseurs. These are the best instant coffee brands to perk you up on a busy morning.
Instant coffee is not always on the top list for coffee gurus. Despite being something of a pariah, it is still made of real coffee. Ground coffee is a life savior for a busy morning, but instant coffee is even quicker.
Instant coffee can come into play if you’re on the road often or your most anticipated camping trip is around the corner, and no one can find space to pack a grinder and coffee maker. I assure you that you don’t have to sacrifice your holy cup of Joe for a bad instant coffee. Learn about your options with my curated list of the best instant coffee brands.
Table of Contents
1.0 Best Instant Coffee Brands
1.1 Café Bustelo
Café Bustelo opened its doors in 1928. After almost 100 years in the business, it has developed six pillar products ranging from ground coffee to iced espresso, as well as whole beans and instant coffee.
Among these products, Café Bustelo’s Espresso Instant Coffee has received a massive ovation from the market. It brings out a delicate aroma on the nose and is not too strong on the palate.
Café Bustelo may not be the best call for those who are into really strong coffee. However, I will suggest this brand if you’re looking for a smooth drink with slightly higher caffeine content and without hints of bitterness.
6 Count (Pack of 12)
1.2 Lavazza Coffee
Lavazza produces some of the best instant coffee. Lavazza falls under the middle range of the price spectrum, so you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for good quality instant coffee.
With Lavazza Prontissimo Classic, you will have a delightful cup of medium roast 100% Arabica coffee that is smooth and well-balanced. Those who are not very keen on the caramel aftertaste can switch to the Lavazza Prontissimo Intenso blend and delight your senses with a leading note of dark cream and a strong aroma.
In the scene of instant coffee, Nescafé is one of the most popular brands. The brand has introduced eleven different products in its instant coffee collection, which includes the House Blend, decaffeinated coffee, and classic flavors such as French Roast, Colombian, Dark Roast, and Hazelnut-flavored coffee.
On the higher end, Nescafé also introduced Nescafé Gold, a premium product that taps into the potential of homemade barista-inspired coffee that you can make within minutes. The Gold instant coffee is famous for its rich and full-bodied tasting profile with a subtle hint of crema.
For those who love the coffee taste but get the jitters, the Nescafé Taster’s Choice range offers the best decaf instant coffee. This instant decaf coffee is closer to a light roast, so you can enjoy a refreshing, fruity cup of Joe without any adverse effects.
1.4 Douwe Egberts
Standing the test of time for 260 years and still counting, the Dutch national brand Douwe Egberts roasts and packs rich and velvety instant coffee you don’t want to miss out on. Unlike Nescafé, that’s able to produce and market over ten different instant coffee items, Douwe Egberts concentrates on very fine quality coffee through three major products, including Decaf, Pure Gold, and Pure Indulgence.
The most classic instant coffee from the brand, Pure Indulgence, is a dark roast. Although it’s a little bitter, it’s a delicious after-dinner coffee. Instant coffee usually doesn’t hit the same in terms of caffeine, but Douwe Egberts is strong enough to provide a good jolt of energy in the morning.
This instant coffee even forms a delightful crema, making it one of the top picks for when you can’t stop by your favorite coffee shop. You might find our explainer on can you burn instant coffee helpful.
America’s beloved coffee house, Folgers, is not only one of the best ground coffee brands but is also very famous for instant coffee. It’s a household name for those who like their coffee dark and rich. You should expect your Folgers instant coffee to be bitter and oily, so it’s not for the faint of heart.
Today, you can choose one out of six different products Folgers has to offer. They include the Folgers Classic Roast, Golden Dusk, Decaf, French Vanilla Cappuccino, and Mocha Chocolate Cappuccino. If you don’t have an adventurous palate and would rather stick to something traditional and familiar, then I would recommend you go for its Classic Roast Instant Coffee Roast.
1.6 Trader Joe’s
If you’re familiar with Trader Joe’s, you know that it doesn’t only sell one type of instant coffee. You can choose from three major types: Instant Coffee Packets, Instant Cold Brew Coffee, and 100% Colombian Instant Coffee.
Out of the three, Trader Joe’s Instant Coffee Packets with Creamer & Sugar is one of the most popular products. To unlock the full potential, I usually just go with two packets per cup, as the flavor from one packet alone is a little thin.
Alternatively, those who don’t have all the tools set up for a proper cold brew should go for its Cold Brew Instant Coffee. It has a lingering caramel hint in the nose and a smooth, dark, and rich flavor caressing your palate. It’s a good coffee for tea drinkers.
- Trader Joe's Instant Coffee Packets with Creamer & Sugar -10 Packets - 2 Pack
1.7 Davidoff Café
Davidoff Café was a beautiful surprise for me. The Swiss-based family owns and manages a broad portfolio of the finer things in life – from colognes to cognac, from cigars to coffee, you name it. Davidoff Coffee is considered a luxury coffee brand, offering everything from whole beans to capsules and instant coffee.
Its instant coffee collection includes Fine Aroma, Creme Intense, Espresso 57m, and Rich Aroma. Out of the four items, its Rich Aroma Instant Coffee appears harsh at the beginning, but it soon unlocks a complex profile that has a sweet aftertaste and fruit-forward hints.
1.8 Mount Hagen
Mount Hagen is another one of the best instant coffee brands to stock up your cabinet. Named after a town in the Papua New Guinea Highlands, Mount Hagen delivers the finest flavors of the country to your cup every morning.
Today, you can find six different types of instant coffee that the brand has to offer. The classic one, Mount Hagen Instant Coffee, is made entirely from medium roast Arabica beans, brewed, and freeze-dried to capture the rich flavor.
The coffee is smooth with little to no acidity. Although a lot of instant coffee brands taste stale, this high-quality java tastes fresh, giving you that coffee shop experience without leaving the house.
Another reason why Mount Hagen is a popular brand is that all of its six instant coffee products are certified as organic and Fair Trade. Plus, it’s sold at such an affordable price, given the excellent quality.
1.9 Medaglia D’Oro Espresso Style Instant Coffee
For many coffee drinkers, instant coffee is too weak and doesn’t have the strong coffee taste we know and love. Enter Medaglia D’Oro. The brand’s espresso-style style instant coffee is made of a blend of Arabica beans and Robusta beans to provide flavor and strength.
This brew has been processed via spray drying, and although not as favored as freeze drying, this method is usually cheaper, which ends up saving customers money. The coffee still packs quite the punch.
This dark roast instant coffee has a robust flavor that is not too far away from regular coffee. You can use it for your morning cup or Joe or enhance the flavor of baked goods.
1.10 Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffee
You might be skeptical about mushroom coffee, but it has its charms. Four Sigmatic’s instant coffee is a blend of spray-dried Arabica coffee beans and Lion’s Mane, Chaga, and Rhodiola mushrooms. This organic instant coffee is ideal for health-conscious coffee drinkers and those sensitive to caffeine.
Although this brew has less caffeine than regular coffee, the mushrooms can provide natural energy, leaving you feeling alert and ready to face the day ahead. Four Sigmatic offers their instant brews in single-serve packets, so you can have it on the go. Learn more in our explainer on why mushroom coffee is a must-try.
Did you know you can brew Starbucks coffee from the comfort of your own home in an instant? While it’s widely known that Starbucks sells coffee beans and ground coffee for those who like to whip up pour-over or French press brews, the brand understands that convenience is everything, and with that in mind, the Starbucks VIA collection was born.
The Starbucks VIA Ready Brew Colombia coffee is a delicious single-origin medium roast. This coffee is nutty yet well-rounded, with a mouthfeel that can only be described as juicy. If that’s not enough, Starbucks VIA also offers decaffeinated blends, Italian roasts, the famous House blend, and more. Read our guide to the best Starbucks drinks.
1.12 Waka Coffee
One of the downsides to instant coffee is that most brands stick to a medium roast, but what if you want something different? Waka Coffee offers light roast, medium roast, and dark roast instant coffee. To make it even more exciting, you can also select flavored instant coffees such as maple mocha, pumpkin spice, butterscotch, and more.
All the blends are made from freeze-dried Arabica coffee for optimal flavor. They come in convenient single-serve packets, so you can bring your coffee to the office, college, or wherever else you need a pick-me-up.
1.13 Hills Bros
Instant coffee doesn’t always have to be boring. If you prefer milky drinks like a latte or a cappuccino, you can still have your perfect cup of coffee without taking much time out of your day.
Hills Bros offer all kinds of interesting instant coffee blends like a French vanilla cappuccino, a double mocha, and a salted caramel cappuccino, so you can have creamy brews without reaching for creamer. All you need to do is mix the coffee powder with hot water.
Best of all, most of the products are sugar-free, so you can treat yourself without getting a sugar rush. You can also experiment with this product and make delicious iced coffee and frappes.
1.14 Maxwell House
Maxwell House is one of the most popular and accessible instant coffee brands. The brand also offers pods and ground coffee for those with more time on their hands.
The Original Medium Roast instant coffee still provides a strong coffee flavor and a good kick of caffeine. The acidity can be quite high for some coffee drinkers, but you can always soften it with a good creamer or a dash of milk.
You can also find an iced hazelnut latte, a vanilla caramel latte, and more fun instant coffee products while skipping the complicated brewing methods.
- Medium roast
- 12 oz Jar
If you’re in the market for a better-tasting drink, read our guide to the best speciality coffee brands.
2.0 FAQs About Instant Coffee
Can You Brew Instant Coffee With Cold Water?
You can make instant coffee with cold water, but the coffee crystals or granules may take longer to dissolve.
What Is The Difference Between Freeze-Dried Instant Coffee And Spray Drying?
Freeze-dried coffee is made when a coffee extract is frozen, diced into granules, and placed in a drying vacuum. Spray-dried coffee entails allowing the water from a coffee mist to evaporate, leaving behind coffee crystals.
What Drinks Can You Make With Instant Coffee?
Aside from a plain cup of Joe, you can make Dalgona coffee, a frappe, or iced coffee with instant coffee. Although you can’t make espresso in the traditional sense, many home cooks make instant coffee lattes.
How Much Caffeine Is In Instant Coffee?
The caffeine content will vary per brand. On average, an eight-ounce cup will contain 60 mg of caffeine. In contrast, the same serving of brewed coffee contains around 95 mg of caffeine.