How Do I Choose the Best Instant Coffee?

Felicia Dye

To get the best instant coffee, you should be prepared to invest time and money into finding it. Determine how bold you want your coffee to be and whether you are open to flavoring in the beverage to help you limit the options. Also pay attention to the origin of the product and the coffee beans used, as these details can have a major impact on quality.

The origin of the coffee beans used in instant coffee will have impact on the flavor.
The origin of the coffee beans used in instant coffee will have impact on the flavor.

Unless you are fortunate enough to receive a good recommendation, one of the realities of finding the best instant coffee is that it will likely involve a process. Expect to test several brands or different products before you find the one that best suits your tastes. You can try to select a brand based on its reputation for ground coffee or coffee beans, but realize it's not a guaranteed strategy. Good instant coffee is a niche and some major brands have not mastered it.

Flavorings and sweeteners are added to some types of powdered instant coffee.
Flavorings and sweeteners are added to some types of powdered instant coffee.

Remember to consider your flavor preferences. Instant coffee has varying degrees of mildness and boldness. If you try several products and are unsuccessful in finding one you like, you may need to consider buying the coffee from somewhere else. The products that you find in your area may reflect local or regional preferences. You may be able to find coffee with a different range of flavors in another region or country.

Check the package to find out where the product was made. As you want the best instant coffee, you should look for products from places with a strong coffee culture. Do not make the mistake of believing that you can determine the origin by the brand or product names. Try to also determine the origin of the coffee beans that were used. This is a detail that has a major impact on flavor.

Also check the packaging to find out if the product that you are considering is pure coffee. Some instant products contain flavorings or seasonings. Chicory is an example of something that is sometimes added to instant coffee and may represent as much as 30 percent of the powder. If you are a coffee purist, you probably want to limit your selections to those that are 100-percent coffee. On the contrary, if you like your coffee with a twist of flavor, you may find a flavored product is the one you like best.

Coffee is one of those items where price tends to matter. The better products tend to be more expensive, and bargain products generally lack quality. As such, you shouldn't expect that the best instant coffee will be among the cheapest. Be prepared to pay for the quality that you are looking for.

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Discussion Comments


I saw an interesting use for the instant coffee packets on a TV cooking show. Dissolve it in a little hot water and use it in chocolate baked goods, like cake. It doesn't really impart a coffee flavor, but does amp up the chocolate flavor. I tried it and it works! Unlike never using wine to cook with that you wouldn't drink, cheap instant coffee works just fine for this, so pick whatever costs the least.


Yeah, the higher end instant coffee is usually just better. If I need a shot of caffeine, I'm not as picky, but normally, I do prefer the more expensive brands. They're usually smoother and not nearly as acidic.

I don't have one of the one-cup magic brewing machines, so I have to make do with the better instant stuff if I don't have time to brew a pot of coffee.

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