17 Clever Ways to Make Instant Coffee Taste Good

In most cases, instant coffee isn’t so tasty. Learn how to make it sweeter and better with these various ways to make instant coffee taste good.

make instant coffee taste good - a tablespoon of Instant Coffee
You can improve the taste of instant coffee by adding the right ingredients

I was recently in a hurry and had to take instant coffee. I did not like the taste and wondered if there was anything I could do to improve the taste. So, I did some research and experiments to find out ways to make instant coffee taste better.

So, how can you make instant coffee taste better? The secret to improving the taste of instant coffee lies in how much of everything you use. Too much water or too much coffee will leave you with a horrible mixture.

The temperature of the water also has a significant impact on the taste of the final drink. I will teach you how to make the best instant coffee taste good. Finally, I also found some ingredients you may add to your cup of instant coffee to make it taste better.

Why Instant Coffee?

Instant coffee is perfect for all situations that require you to rush. It is easy, simple, cheap and instant! Running late for work? Take instant coffee.

Don’t have enough time for a break from work? Take instant coffee. Craving caffeine? Take instant coffee. There’s no lifesaver more all-around than instant coffee.

Unfortunately, most people do not get to enjoy the granular goodness that is instant coffee and make numerous complaints about its taste. Move aside, coffee snobs. Here we do not ponder over how silky the spun milk is or how well the coffee beans are roasted.

Here, we focus on finding ways to make our lousy coffee even just slightly better. We find ways to make our coffee more bearable in the morning when we are rushing to work or during the day when we need a caffeine fix. No, we do not take instant coffee for the taste; it’s a convenience we enjoy.

For ages, people have shied away from that cup of instant coffee. Many are under the misguided notion that its horrible taste persists no matter the brewing. There’s only one way to find out.

There are a particular chalky consistency and relatively sour taste associated with instant coffee. People who have never tried it before won’t touch it with a ten-foot pole. While this is understandable, instant coffee remains more convenient and affordable than regular coffee, particularly for individuals who are running on a tight budget.

For more, read our guide to roasted versus instant coffee.

How To Make Good Instant Coffee

To make good instant coffee, get the following:

  • A cup or mug
  • Instant coffee granules
  • Hot water
  • Optional: milk, cream, sugar, or any other preferred additives

How follow these steps to make a good cup of instant coffee:

  1. Boil fresh water: Start by boiling fresh water. It’s essential to use fresh water to ensure the best possible taste.
  2. Choose the right instant coffee: Select a good instant coffee brand. You can also opt for a flavored instant coffee if you prefer.
  3. Add instant coffee to your coffee mug: Measure out the desired amount of instant coffee granules (usually 1-2 teaspoons per cup) and add them to your cup or mug.
  4. Pour hot water: Pour hot water over the coffee granules. Be careful not to use boiling water, as this can scorch the coffee and affect the flavor. A temperature of around 200°F (93°C) is ideal.
  5. Stir well: Use a spoon to stir the coffee granules and water together until the granules are completely dissolved.
  6. Add milk and sugar (or sweetener, if desired): Add milk, cream, sugar, or any other preferred additives to taste.


Ways To Make Instant Coffee Taste Good

1. Cold Water

a clear glass of water filled with ice cubes
Cold water works on the sharp sour flavor giving the coffee a smoother taste

The most common complaint with instant coffee is the bitter, sour taste. Some folk love this flavor, but if you don’t, we have a hack to smoothen the bitter taste.

Add some cold water to the coffee granules and gently stir them before emptying the contents into the hot water. The cold water works on the sharp sour flavor giving the coffee a smoother taste.

Instant coffee granules contain a substance known as amylum. When instant coffee is added directly into hot water, the amylum hardens thereby creating a powdery taste and consistency.

Cold water, however, allows the granules to dissolve more gently without the hardening of amylum occurring. This way, you get an almost perfect cup of coffee that keeps you asking for more.

2. The Right Temperature

Adding instant coffee to boiled water has significant adverse effects on the taste of the coffee. The water should be freshly boiled. Most people usually have their kettles on standby filled with water at the highest level mark.

Consequently, they end up boiling already boiled water. Each time you boil your water, the oxygen escapes thus impacting the taste. You should therefore always draw fresh tap water and boil it on demand.

The best coffee taste is achieved when the water used hasn’t quite yet reached boiling point. Hot but not boiling.

3. A Better Coffee To Water Ratio

This happens to be the most common mistake when brewing coffee. However, the coffee to water ratio varies with the coffee brand. I urge you, therefore, to read the manufacturer’s instructions first but don’t follow them blindly.

Manufacturers tend to overhype their coffee so you might end up with a watery mistake if you aren’t too careful. This is often the case with renowned cappuccino mixes.

Is the cup too watery? Add less water to the coffee next time. Is it too strong? Spike it with more water next time.

Let your taste always dictate your coffee ratio. For most of the coffees, the ideal rate is 1-2 teaspoons per 1 cup of water.

4. Creamer

Coffee lovers that love their drink in all its granular glory quickly get bored with its watery consistency making them feel like ditching it altogether. If this is the case, it’s time to get your coffee cup a cream upgrade. I know this sounds cliché, but it makes a big difference.

The cream imparts a thicker, richer taste that puts store-bought coffee to shame. The cream not only thickens the brew but neutralizes the acidity of the coffee. The next time you make yourself a cup of instant coffee, why not add a dash of cream to it. This simple step will give you your customized quality cuppa.

5. Sugar

Best sweetener for coffee
Sugar masks the taste of bitter, cheap coffee

Here’s one obvious solution; if it’s too bitter for your liking, add a spoonful or two of sugar then stir. This is the easiest thing to do for those who are not on a low-sugar diet. Just sweeten it, literally.

There are no rules to this. Just add as much as is healthy for you.

6. Alternate Sweeteners

Sugar is the most common additive to instant coffee making one forget the bitterness in the coffee altogether. However, if you want to ditch your sugar dose, you can go the milo way. Mix equal parts of Milo with your instant coffee and add to the water till all the Milo dissolves.

If you’re feeling a bit wild, you can lace it with some cream as described above and just like that, you’ve skipped your sugar fix. Well, your coffee is excellent now, but it could get better. How? Nutella.

Replicate the steps above but with Nutella instead of Milo. Nutella takes longer to melt, but it’s definitely worth the wait. If you don’t prefer sugar, Milo, or Nutella, you can use alternative sweeteners.

Sugar is sweet but doesn’t have much going for it concerning flavor. You can replace the sugar with maple syrup. You can put honey in coffee, golden syrup, or even condensed milk. You might be surprised at the unusual taste exploding from your cup.

7. Ice

Delicious iced coffee
Iced coffee to make your day

Sometimes your coffee is way too hot for a warm drink. It’s on such occasions when you feel like your brewed cup is doing you no favors. You can make your very own frappucino by lacing the coffee with ice.

Mix a shot of hot water with a teaspoonful of the coffee granules and gently pour the mixture over a cup full of ice cubes. You can top the beverage with milk or canned whipped cream and quietly pretend you’re at Starbucks. Stay your cup well and behold your lively morning with the grandeur of a well-brewed coffee cup.

8. Salt

This might be new even to the most dedicated coffee addicts. A research experiment conducted by food scientist Alton Brown showed that adding a pinch of salt had amazing effects on coffee. Sometimes it’s very disappointing having a full pot of bitter coffee.

If you have too high a coffee-to-water ratio or you leave your coffee to steep out for too long, the salt will counteract the sour taste. This is because salt contains sodium that works thoroughly in transducing bitter flavors.

The salt doesn’t make bad coffee taste good, but it makes it drinkable. If you’ve already messed up in your coffee preparation, you can add it to the finished cup or lightly sprinkle it on top of the coffee and see its effect on the taste.

9. Herbs

Mixing herbs in your coffee are not only healthy for you, but it gives some surprisingly amazing results. A sprinkle of cinnamon adds a bit of the flavor. It’s spicy but not overpowering. Cinnamon is a healthier alternative to sugar and other sweeteners.

With an interest in being kinder to the liver and adrenal glands, herbal substitutes are relatively tasty. Their aroma is wonderful. The flavor is rich with many different notes.

They provide a slow release of nutrients that improve overall gut health. Herbal alternatives are non-acidic, thus, don’t give stomach upsets like regular coffee.

The beauty of herbal alternatives is that you can grow them in the comfort of your home. Some of the great herbal options apart from cinnamon are chicory, teecino, dandelion root coffee, and dandy blend. If you’ve been thinking of spicing up your coffee with herbal alternatives, you can see there’s a wide assortment of amazing herbal options worth trying.

10. Cocoa it up!

Many groups of people enjoy chocolate. Do not be fooled; chocolate does more than help you get in the good books of females (mother, sister, wife, daughter, etc). Granted, it is the perfect bribe for little favors. However, the uses of chocolate are limitless. Forget cakes and desserts.

A little cocoa like this will make your coffee magical. Well, not literally. Chocolate bars are good, but cocoa in instant coffee is just amazing. You will be asking yourself why you did not try this sooner!

From romance to a lousy day at work, chocolate fixes everything. Instant coffee is no exception. Sweetened or unsweetened, cocoa may be just what you need! For that supernatural homemade mocha coffee, put your instant coffee in a cup. Add a scoop or two of cocoa powder then add water.

11. Frothed milk

making frothed milk
Adding frothed milk will get rid of the extra acidity in your coffee

The truth is a cup of espresso now and then wouldn’t hurt. Wouldn’t it be lovely if you could wake up to Starbucks coffee every morning? The harsh reality is that not all of us have either the resources or time for that on a daily basis.

Most times, we have to make do. Frothed milk is another simple way to improve the taste of your coffee at home. To get rid of that extra acidity, merely add some frothed milk to your usual cup of instant coffee.

Easy now, it’s nothing fancy. Don’t think espresso machine; think affordable handheld froth machine. First, you will need to froth the milk in a separate container.

Then, prepare your instant coffee in a mug. Finally, add a scoop of frothed milk into your cup. There, now you have a mug of homemade but elegant instant coffee. It may not be as good as Espresso, but it won’t make you sweat. For more, learn how to keep frothed milk frothed.

12. Butter

Coffee is the last thing you would think about when listing possible ways to use butter. Well, get used to it. This is the current trend among coffee lovers. Surprisingly, butter does bring out the best in instant coffee. It gives coffee a silky texture while calming the bitterness. Are you still in doubt?

Well, there’s only one way to find out! After you have made your coffee, add a slice of butter and a hint of cream. This simple hack is guaranteed to give you an entirely different flavor and an entirely new perception of coffee. Learn more about how to make butter coffee.

13. Accurate Measurements

The standard way of measuring instant coffee is using a teaspoon, right? It is easy, it is quick, and it is practical. However, spoons give varying amounts depending on the ingredient. For example, a teaspoon of flour is different from that of sugar. Flour is in powder form whereas sugar comes in granules.

The texture of a substance will determine how much of it can sit on a teaspoon. Instant coffee manufacturers mean different things when they tell you to use a teaspoon. A level teaspoon, a heaped teaspoon, and a rounded teaspoon will each deliver a different taste.

The key is to try all three until you find the perfect teaspoon level for you. Unfortunately, teaspoons also come in many sizes and shapes. You will need to find your way around this, too.

14. Fresh milk

Milk is perfect for the human body. Adults and children alike derive lots of nutrients from milk. A glass of milk a day goes a long way in the development of strong bones and teeth. Lots of food products are made using milk. They don’t have to be made that way, but the taste is so much better after the addition of milk.

We cook using milk. We may use it in marinades if we please. It’s in our beauty products such as lotions too because it is good for the skin.

Some people bathe in milk as a way of pampering their skin. The benefits of milk are endless. Imagine the wonders that the touch of fresh milk can do to the taste of instant coffee. Adding fresh milk to instant coffee makes it extra creamy.

Some instant coffee already has powdered milk in it, add some fresh milk anyway. You may use milk: coffee ratio of 1:3 or 1:1. What matters is that you like the taste.

15. A Good Coffee Mug

If the quantity of instant coffee granules you take is significant, then the amount of water is critical. Like spoons, cups come in different shapes and sizes. The size of the mug determines how much water you can add to your coffee.


Find a coffee mug that you love and get accustomed to it. A coffee mug warmer helps. Not only will this help you with your serving but also the psychological aspect. Taking coffee in your favorite mug every morning sure makes the experience even more fun. You could even use a coffee mug warmer!

16. Orange Juice

fresh orange juice, squeezed, refreshing
The bitterness of coffee and the freshness of orange juice complement each other

Orange juice in itself is sour, and coffee is bitter too. However, when you spike one with the other and add some sweetener, you have a heavenly concoction at your disposal. However, this fix doesn’t work for everyone.

Some people say the combination gives them a stomach upset, but it works for others. There’s strong evidence suggesting the combination of caffeine in coffee and vitamin C in oranges boosts the production of norepinephrine thus enhancing overall mood and energy.

The bitterness of coffee and the freshness of orange juice bring out a green freshness that’s both irritating and calming to the nerves. Learn more about what makes coffee bitter.

17. Higher-Quality Coffee

Even if you try all the hacks mentioned above, short-changing your coffee budget will leave you with a terrible cup of coffee. Low-quality instant coffee has typically poor designation and is a significant compromise on quality.

If you’re exchanging your bucks for cheap coffee, there’s a big chance your coffee will taste cheap. Steer away from those instant coffee sachets with vague labels. Instead, buy from quality coffee brands. This way, you can sip better coffee, even if it’s instant.

The Final Word: Make Instant Coffee Taste Good

If you want to learn how to make instant coffee taste good, use higher-quality coffee, add creamer, sweetener or syrup.

Inspect your coffee until you have the perfect cup of coffee. Change all the variables mentioned one at a time until you get to the heart of the matter of your coffee problem. It takes time to become an expert coffee barista, but with a little time and effort, you’ll get the hang of it.

FAQs On Ways To Make Instant Coffee Good

What is the best instant coffee?

The best instant coffee is one that tastes the most similar to freshly brewed coffee. An example would be Mount Hagen Instant Coffee which has a smooth taste, wide availability, and different packaging options. This brand is organic and Fair Trade Certified with positive reviews from its consumers.

Why is Instant coffee bad?

Instant coffee contains twice more acrylamide, a potentially harmful chemical that forms when you roast coffee beans, than freshly roasted coffee. Overexposure to this chemical can damage the nervous system and increase the risk of cancer. However, the amount present in instant coffee is too low to be considered harmful.

Is espresso powder the same as instant coffee?

Espresso powder is more concentrated than instant coffee. It is made from coffee beans that are ground, brewed and dried. They are then processed to result in a very fine powder.

How do you make iced coffee with instant coffee?

Combine a tablespoon of instant coffee and 2 tablespoons of hot water in a tall glass and stir until the coffee is dissolved. Then, fill the glass with ice and pour a cup of milk or cold water, and stir. Lastly, add sugar or any sweetener to taste.

Can you use ground coffee as instant?

Yes, but it will be grainy and weak. What you can do to solve this is to put the ground coffee in a cup and add hot water, then stir. Then, put a filter over another cup and pour in the coffee, filtering out the undissolved grains.

What is the best instant decaf coffee?

NesCafé Taster’s Choice Decaf House Blend is a popular instant coffee brand. It has a bold full-bodied flavor that is usually lacking in decaffeinated coffee. It is light to medium roasted, producing a fruity taste. Plus, this brand has an affordable price and comes in single-serve to-go packets.

Is freeze dried coffee the same as instant coffee?

Yes it is. In fact, it is the highest quality type of instant coffee, retaining all of the flavor and aroma of coffee beans. The coffee extract solution is frozen until completely solid and then broken into smaller granules before it gets dried and sublimed, resulting in dried coffee granules.


  • Aisling O'Connor

    Aisling is an Irish food and drinks writer and journalist fueled by coffee and herbal tea. She followed up her journalism degree with nutrition studies. Find Aisling on LinkedIn.