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Can Instant Coffee be Great?

Updated: Sep 18, 2023

Just add hot water and stir.

Making a cup of coffee doesn’t get any easier than instant coffee, especially while traveling. But instant coffee has a long and established reputation of being bad. Most instant coffee has been and still is produced in massive batches from cheap, low-quality and poor tasting Robusta beans. For these instant coffees cost is the priority over quality and taste. Most of us that really care about the taste of our coffee wouldn’t think of instant coffee as an option beyond a last resort for a pick-me-up. We chalk it up as a caffeine delivery system of generations past and palates that aren’t familiar with good coffee. I still remember my grandparents having their daily afternoon instant cup of the coffee F-word (F**gers).

So, the question is, can instant coffee be good?

Some of the big-name coffee chains you see on every corner have come out with their own instant coffee. Doing away with the Robusta and moving to the higher-quality Arabica beans they use in their regular brewed coffee. Better, definitely moving in the right direction. But if you’re not a big fan of the taste of their brewed coffee, you probably won’t find anything special in the taste of their instant offerings or may find it tastes worse. "Good coffee" in this case is subjective to taste preferences and what you’re used to drinking.

So, can instant coffee actually be great? Can it be a real option for a good cup while traveling or at home.

Yes! The specialty coffee movement has done wonders for the quality and taste of our daily cup. Specialty cafes and roasters have become abundant and offer quality and variety that we didn’t have in the past. Specialty coffee is reexamining every aspect of the coffee experience looking for ways to improve. Recently instant coffee has fallen into the crosshairs of a few companies created with the goal of making it equal, in quality and taste, to a brewed cup of specialty coffee. They start by sourcing roasted beans from high-quality specialty coffee roasters. Then much attention has been given to the process of creating the instant coffee. Refining the process and adding propriety steps to how its brewed and turned into instant to make sure the taste in the cup matches the original brewed coffee.

The proof is in the cup and these new instant coffee companies have proven themselves and their processes. Numerous specialty coffee roasters around the world have partnered with them to turn their coffees into instant and provide another, very convenient way for their customers to enjoy their coffee.

Give it a try and see for yourself how it compares. Shop instant coffees.

The easiest and most convenient way to get great coffee.

Pour the packet into a cup or thermos, add water and stir. Or vice versa. And Voila you have coffee. Prefer your coffee on the rocks? Use ice water instead of hot and you have a cup of iced coffee. The instant coffee doesn’t care about the water temp.

Instant is inarguably convenient and consistent. But many people may prefer the ritual of preparing a fresh cup with a French press, pour over or other method of choice for their daily cup. But if you’re traveling light, instant coffee requires hardly any equipment. Not in a convenient place to grind and brew, no problem. Or maybe you just want a single cup versus brewing a whole pot on your drip machine. Or maybe you aren’t in the mood for figuring out the right grind size and brew ratio and just want a great cup with no effort. Instant makes it easy, and now can be great.

The cost of instant specialty coffee may be more than expected, $2-ish per packet/cup, based on preconceived notions of other instant coffee. But this isn’t the low-quality, poorly produced instant coffee you’ve seen elsewhere. The same brewed cup of coffee in a specialty café will run $3-5. Even if you wait in line at one of the mainstream coffee chains you’re paying about $3 for a cup of questionable quality. Specialty instant coffee allows you to skip the line and save a couple of bucks to get great coffee when and where you want it.

How I use it personally

I spend about half my life traveling and never leave home without my coffee kit. Being the coffee nerd that I am, I enjoy that grinding and brewing process and my personal travel kit includes more brew methods and bean options than many people might have at home. But my kit also includes a supply of instant coffee. If it’s an early morning I may just heat up some water while getting ready and mix the packet on the go. Even if I brew coffee to start the day, I often mix up some instant coffee for another cup later. Or if it’s just a quick trip or I need to pack light, my immersion heater, a cup/thermos and some packets of instant make life easy. Either way, they’re so small and convenient that I will always keep some stashed in my bag for whenever I may need them.

If you ready to see just how great instant specialty coffee is or need to restock then check out the offerings in our online store.

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