10 Best Instant Coffees Reviewed & Fully Compared
In a Hurry? The test winner after 16 hrs of research
Convenient single serve packets
Can be used with cold water
- Starbucks VIA French Roast
- Mount Hagen
- Starbucks VIA Decaf Italian Roast
- Maxwell House French Vanilla
- Anthony's Organic Coffee
- Starbucks VIA Italian Roast
- Jacob's Coffee Jacobs Kronung Instant
- Nescafe Taster’s Choice House Blend
- Giant Sports Keto Coffee
- Nescafe Tasters Choice Hazelnut
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
10 Best Instant Coffees
1. Starbucks VIA French Roast
Convenient single serve packets
Can be used with cold water
This option is highly reviewed and liked for its great flavor. Campers and backpackers especially like it for its convenient single serve packets. It's more expensive than other options but is of very high quality and tastes great.Read more
Ease of Use
Since it comes in single serving packets it is very simple to use. Just pour water over it, stir, and you're ready to go. A nice feature is that it will dissolve well even in cold water, it just takes a little more time.
This one is made from 100% Arabica beans and contains no wheat or gluten of any kind.
It's a fair bit more expensive than other options, which was really the only complaint we could find.
2. Mount Hagen
Convenient single-serve packets
This certified organic instant coffee comes in convenient single-serve packages. It has lower acidity and a smooth, mellow but slightly less flavorful taste.Read more
This coffee is made from 100% Highland Arabica beans and has a medium roast.
Taste & Texture
This medium roast has a mellow, mild flavor that is much less acidic. Many coffee snobs accept this a good alternative to a freshly brewed cup of joe.
Packaged in single-serve packets for easy use and convenient storage. Some buyers report success with dissolving this coffee in cold or room temperature water but it seems to be best with hot water.
The company does not report how much caffeine is in each packet but users feel it does not have a very high caffeine content and is comparable to other Arabica coffee.
This freeze-dried coffee is preserved for 6-12 months with no chemical preservatives needed.
This organic coffee is slightly more expensive than some of the budget brands.
3. Starbucks VIA Decaf Italian Roast
Convenient single-use packets
We couldn't make a list of the ten best instant coffees without including a decaf option, and this one comes from the 800-pound gorilla of the coffee world, Starbucks. It's highly reviewed for its excellent flavor and comes in single-use packets for convenience.Read more
Ease of Use
The company uses 100% Arabica beans, sourced ethically, to make this product. It doesn't contain any sugars or any ingredients other than coffee.
As with the other offerings from Starbucks on this list, it's quite a bit more expensive than other options. Coffee aficionados felt it was worth it while some others felt it was too expensive.
4. Maxwell House French Vanilla
Comes in bulk
Nice vanilla flavor
Not for those who are lactose intolerant
Not the purest ingredients
This option gives the user a nice vanilla taste and can also be used to flavor regular drip coffee or used in recipes. It also dissolves easily and quickly and is a light option. Most users liked the flavor and that it's sugar-free. It does contain milk so if you're lactose intolerant it's not the one for you.Read more
Ease of Use
Users reported that it dissolves quickly. It comes in a large 8.4 oz (dry weight) tub so you can add more or less according to your taste.
It does contain some artificial sweeteners and flavorings to add sweetness and flavor without sugar. It also contains powdered milk so be careful if you're lactose intolerant.
One of the least expensive options on our list.
5. Anthony's Organic Coffee
Organic and chemical free
Not a portable container
Some report trouble keeping the bag closed
Want to indulge in delicious coffee while still working to protect the encouragement and conserve natural resources? If so then Anthony's Organic Coffee is just what you need to try!Read more
Ease of Use
Made with an extra-fine texture and organically grown this instant coffee blend is a quick and easy way to get your morning cup of coffee when time is limited. When you need your Joe to go this is a great coffee blend to try!
You do not have to feel guilty when you drink your coffee, worrying about the environment or the chemicals that were used. With Anthony's Organic Coffee blend, you get pure organic coffee bean grounds without the harmful extras!
This blend is a little on the pricey side compared to name brand coffees but you have to remember what all you are getting. You are getting pure and safe coffee grounds and the peace of mind that comes from knowing you have done good by the environment.
This blend of chemical free coffee has a taste that is unlike most other coffee blends and it is a taste that reviewers are falling in love with. Its fresh, bold, strong, and pleasing to the palate which makes it a great choice for any coffee lover out there.
This coffee blend is not as portable as some of the others on this list with the resealable bag being a little cumbersome for transportation. However, it can be packaged and brought with you if needed so you can enjoy good coffee while on the go!
6. Starbucks VIA Italian Roast
Dissolves in cold water
Convenient single-serve packages
Long shelf life
Slightly more bitter
This Starbucks VIA Italian Roast packs in a bold, robust flavor that reliably creates a strong coffee taste with just one convenient packet.Read more
This coffee is an Italian dark roast and is made of 100% micro-ground Arabica beans.
Taste & Texture
The taste of this dark roast is described as bold and robust. Users love the strong taste and bitter finish. The finely ground instant coffee dissolves completely without leaving any grounds lingering.
Packaged in convenient single-serving packages that are easy to carry with you. This instant coffee dissolves after 10 seconds in hot water and can even dissolve in cold water when given a bit more time and stirring.
Each packet has around 135 mg of caffeine.
This coffee has a long-lasting shelf life and users report good tasting, strong coffee even 8 months past the “Use By” date listed on the packaging.
More expensive than most other options on the market. Due to the long shelf life, you can stock up on packs of 50 and save a bit of money.
7. Jacob's Coffee Jacobs Kronung Instant
Bold, blended coffee taste
You can adjust the taste
Utilizes freeze-dried beans to maintain taste and consistency
You can take it anywhere
Too bold of a taste for some
Jacob's instant coffee is a favorite among many because it has the same rich, bold taste as brewed coffees. It is also affordable and can be bought almost anywhere.Read more
This instant coffee uses high-quality coffee beans to closely mimic the taste of slow brewed, blended coffees. It has a rich, bold taste that will quickly make this one of your favorite instant coffees.
Taste & Texture
This coffee is smooth and goes down easy, it isn't or any different than your typical coffee. You can make it as strong or light as you'd like as well.
This instant coffee comes in a jar, which is less convenient than the single serve packet to some people. However, it is easy to use and store and taste can be adjusted however you like it!
It is difficult to calculate exactly how much caffeine is in each cup of coffee, however, it probably falls in line with the average amount.
This instant coffee utilizes freeze-dried beans to maintain its consistency and taste. This also allows it to have a shelf life of over a year, without sacrificing taste.
This instant coffee is averagely priced and how long it lasts depends on how much or little you use for each serving.
8. Nescafe Taster’s Choice House Blend
Convenient single-serve packages
Long shelf life
These affordable and compact sleeves have a light and smooth flavor that is convenient for travel. It is not the best tasting instant coffee on the market but it is not bitter and is a fraction of the cost of some of the higher end brands.Read more
This coffee features a blend of beans and has a light to medium roast.
Taste & Texture
This standard house blend is rich and smooth. Most users enjoy the light flavor but some find one packet a bit too weak and prefer to use 2-3 packs for a stronger taste.
This instant coffee comes in easy-to-open sticks that are very compact and easy to store.
This coffee has about 65 mg of caffeine per cup.
The individually sealed, freeze-dried coffee has a very long shelf life lasting almost 2 years.
This instant coffee is convenient and very inexpensive when considering the cost per cup.
9. Giant Sports Keto Coffee
Easy to use
Added protein and nutrients
Made for Keto diets
Jars lids can pop off at times
If you want a great way to get your cup of Joe in the morning while sticking to your healthier diet then the Giant Sports Keto Coffee blend is just what you have been looking for!Read more
Ease of Use
Like most instant coffee, all you have to do to start enjoying Giant Sports Keto Coffee is add hot water! It is easy to spoon out the amount you need and adjust as you wish to accommodate your own personal taste and preference at that time.
The beans used in this blend are of high quality and this blend is unique in that it is packed with extra protein and is sugar-free so you have a quick and easy source of lasting energy. It won’t cause a bad caffeine crash either halfway through your day!
This blend is a little pricier than what some people may be used to, averaging about a dollar per cup. However, with the added protein, amino acids, and nutrients it is well worth the investment to have coffee you don’t have to feel as guilty about!
Good coffee tastes good and is enjoyable to drink. Giant Sports Keto Coffee blend is creamy and rich with a slight sweetness that makes it a great choice for coffee lovers who want to be a little more health-conscious with their coffee choices.
The container for Giant Sports Keto Coffee is compact and the most common size is a convenient 8 oz which is easy to carry with you. It can easily fit into your backpack for a camping trip or hiking trip so you can have coffee wherever you may go!
10. Nescafe Tasters Choice Hazelnut
Strong coffee with hazelnut flavor
Convenient, small single-serve packets
Flavor is not for everyone
Voted one of the best tasting and affordable instant coffees. This medium to dark roast has a hint of hazelnut that many buyers love.Read more
This medium/dark roast coffee features a blend of both Robusta and Arabica beans.
Taste & Texture
This darker coffee makes a strong cup of coffee with a noticeable hazelnut flavoring.
This instant coffee comes in small, single-serving tubes that are great for travel and use on the go. Many users love the addition of hazelnut and are happy to replace their morning brewed coffee with this instant blend.
There is 25-30 mg caffeine per packet.
These packets should maintain their flavor for over 2 years.
This coffee is fairly inexpensive and the flavor is strong enough that most users require only one packet per serving.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Ease of Use
Whether you are traveling or just trying to save time in your morning routine, if you are choosing an instant coffee you are likely doing so for the convenience factor. We sought out coffees that are packaged well and easy to use when you are on the go.
These two qualities may be the most important when selecting an instant coffee. Sure, you may be willing to settle for a less tasty coffee when you are solely looking for convenience but it should not be too hard to find a variety that is better than tolerable. The ideal flavor profile, again, is largely personal preference. However, we focused our search on coffees that were generally well-received.
There is not a standard ideal amount for caffeine. Again, this is typically determined by the individual and how much caffeine you are accustomed to drinking and feel you need. Some users may be more sensitive to caffeine than others. Though we included only caffeinated options on this list, many of the brands on our list come in a decaffeinated version as well.
Coffee is made from two types of beans: Arabica and Robusta. Arabica is generally recognized as a better bean that is more aromatic and has more distinct flavors than the Robusta variety. Due to the better flavor profile, Arabica is generally preferred over Robusta. However, the Arabica plants are more delicate and therefore, Arabica beans are more expensive to grow and cost more. Robusta plants are much stronger and are more resistant to weather and insects. The taste of Robusta beans is not as refined but boasts a much higher caffeine level than Arabica beans. This bean is easier to grow making the coffee made from it much more affordable.
The roast of coffee is determined by the extent to which the coffee beans are roasted. This is typically measured by the color and internal temperature of the roasted beans. The “best” roast is largely up to personal preference. Lighter roasts are said to have a lighter texture and more mellow taste. These lighter beans also tend to be drier and have a more acidic taste and higher caffeine concentration than the darker variety. Medium roasts are typically described as balanced and smooth. Darker roasts are typically more robust, rich and full-bodied. Beans become dark through higher temperatures and longer roasting. As they roast longer, some of the caffeine burns off and they begin to lose the flavors from the bean and take on more flavor from the roasting itself.
Price is always important when considering any purchase. We wanted to make sure that if you are paying more for your coffee, there is a good reason why.
Many people stock up on instant coffee for travel supplies and backpacking trips. If you are not planning to drink this coffee everyday it is important to consider the shelf life. While the coffee should not really “go bad” it can become less flavorful over time.
When it comes to finding the best instant coffees, you will want to of course consider taste. What good it brewing a quick cup of coffee if you can’t stand the taste? There are many different ways to prepare coffee and even instant coffee can be made in different ways, each one creating a unique taste to the coffee. This is why it is important to look at past reviews and see what others have to say about the instant coffee blend you are considering. Here at RunnerClick, we made sure to take other reviews into consideration and combined with our own trials and testing, we found ten instant coffees that taste good and that are worth considering when you want a quick cup of Joe!
Another factor worth thinking about in your search for the best instant coffee is when and where you will be using it and how portable you need it to be. Do you need something to prepare a quick cup you can take with you as you head out for the day? Or, do you want instant coffee you can easily take with you camping or hiking? Would individual packets be more convenient for your intended use? Thinking about the way you will be preparing the coffee and what limitations you may have to overcome can help you find the formulation and packaging that is just right for you! The RunnerClick review team made sure to include several options so you should be able to find one that works for you!
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Gone are the days of instant coffee being a downgrade. When you're in a hurry and can't tell the difference between that and the brewed stuff, why not have some on hand in a pinch.
Feel like adding some coffee flavor to that cake you're making? Use instant coffee! Just follow the directions to brew a cup and is it in place of water and/or milk in the cake recipe.
Other Factors to Consider
Studies on endurance athletes have found that caffeine, and coffee specifically, has numerous benefits for runners, swimmers, and cyclists. Caffeine, in any form, can boost endurance performance. Studies have found that caffeine boosts both speed and endurance to help you go faster for longer. It is also rapidly absorbed in the GI tract which helps to give you an instant kick when consumed mid-race. Caffeine assists athletic performance by working as a stimulant and increasing the circulation and making more glycogen available. In this sense, caffeine also works well in your post workout routine as it can help you replenish your glycogen stores. Furthermore, there is not, much evidence to suggest it is dehydrating as some have been led to believe.
There are many ways to incorporate caffeine into your exercise routine through teas, sports drinks and caffeinated gels. However, there are some benefits to coffee itself as part of your daily routine. Recent studies have provided some evidence that coffee contains some substances that can be beneficial to brain health and can help stave off dementia.
Comparing instant coffees can be challenging because much of the decision making comes down to personal preference. However, we did find some important criteria that helped to narrow down the playing field. We looked for coffees that were convenient to use and tasted good for most reviewers. We sought out a variety of coffees and flavor profiles to provide a diverse top ten list with something for everyone.
Are you looking for an instant coffee to have for the occasional trip or do you plan to throw out your coffee maker and only use instant? If you are dedicated to a daily cup of instant coffee then a jar may be more convenient than packets because it is easier to customize the strength and taste of your coffee. Additionally, people switching over to instant tend to prefer the instant espresso or espresso style coffees as they have a richer texture and no bitterness.
On the other hand, if you need a coffee that can easily be stored away for the spontaneous camping trip, packets are your friend as they take up very little room and have a longer shelf life than the coffee that comes in jars. In the case of occasional use, many people reach for the Starbucks VIA packets as it packs reliably strong flavor and a ton of caffeine to wake you up after sleeping on the ground. And, with occasional use, the cost will not break the bank.
Additionally, consider how you will be using your coffee. When we think of instant coffee we typically think about mixing it with boiling water. However, many people enjoy making iced coffee or even mixing the powder into milk to make an instant latte. Even if you don’t love the taste of coffee, instant coffee is an easy way to get caffeine into your pre or post-run ritual. Many runners love to mix instant coffee into butter to top their pancakes or blend it into a smoothie. Instant coffee is also a great flavoring agent for baking.
Many people come to love the taste of coffee but most of us out there have become addicted to the wonderful caffeine that keeps you alert and boosts performance. If you are considering coffee for the athletic benefits, experts recommend 3-6 mg of caffeine per kg of body weight taken 1 hour before working out. If you are seeking caffeine to wake you up in the morning then it may be a bit more trial and error to figure out the ideal amount. Typically this will depend on your weight and how much caffeine you are accustomed to drinking. Keep in mind that too much caffeine can produce negative side effects such as jitters and sleeplessness.
Much like ground coffee, instant coffee comes with a variety of flavor profiles. When choosing an instant coffee, it is best to start with flavors you already know you like. The type of roast will also affect the flavor of the coffee, so keep in mind if you prefer a strong flavor or a more mild one. Darker roasts tend to have a stronger flavor while medium roast won’t be as strong.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: How much caffeine should I drink pre-run?
For athletes, the recommended intake of caffeine is about 3 to 6 mg per kg of your weight. So unless you drink multiple cups of coffee you should be alright with any choice on this list. If you do exceed that amount then you will likely experience the jitters or stomach problems, which are the last things you want when you are trying to run.
q: Will coffee make me dehydrated?
People tend to mix up some of the details on what about coffee dehydrates you. Caffeine does not directly dehydrate you but it is a diuretic, frankly speaking, so it makes you have to pee more. Your body losing the extra fluids can dehydrate you. So we recommend with the coffee that you also take in some electrolytes and extra water to balance it out and preserve your hydration level.
q: Can too much caffeine be dangerous?
Generally, caffeine consumption is not dangerous, in fact, you’d have to drink somewhere between 20 to 30 cups of coffee in quick succession to reach lethal levels of caffeine. That being said some conditions do require restricted caffeine consumption for safety reasons, so if you are unsure please consult your doctor. Also, excessive caffeine consumption should be avoided during pregnancy.
There are also side effects that most people are aware of from caffeine, an overabundance of energy or jitteriness, sleeplessness, and the like. Caffeine also accumulates the more you intake, meaning the more you use the longer the effects last. This is an important consideration when using caffeine as an athletic aid.
q: When should I consume caffeine?
If you are looking to boost your endurance performance, most studies recommend consuming caffeine about 1 hour before your run.
q: How is instant coffee made?
There are two main methods for creating instant coffee. Both start with liquid coffee and convert it to a powder. The first method requires spraying liquid coffee in a fine mist through very hot and dry air. As the water vapor evaporates, you are left with a fine powder that can be reconstituted when water is adding. The other, often preferred method is freeze drying. In this case, liquid coffee is frozen and then vaporized through chemical sublimation.
This version is preferred because it maintains a bit more of the aromatics and flavor of the original coffee and is more stable and has a longer shelf life. Starbucks VIA, on the other hand, has its own patented method of creating instant coffee with micro grinding technology. This unique process grinds the coffee into a very fine powder that helps maintain the coffee’s taste.