Best instant coffee to buy 2023

Looking for a quick coffee fix? Instant coffee is your friend, and doesn’t have to be the low-quality coffee that it often has the reputation for. Get expert advice from olive’s coffee expert, Celeste Wong. She has tried and tested all the below instant coffees to get the lowdown on which is best. For more coffee inspiration, discover our picks of the best coffee beans and best coffee grinders, for when you do fancy grinding your own.

I remember drinking bad instant coffee as a youngster with my family on holiday or when camping, but there always used to be something a little ironically romantic (and now nostalgic) about having a bad coffee in a cool spot. Since then, the whole instant coffee category has improved and there are now much better, high-quality options available.

Even with specialty coffee more easily available, about 80% of UK households still stock instant coffee in their cupboards (according to the British Coffee Association). Brands are creating new innovations to lure us with variations such as the instant cappuccino sachet or the ‘cafe-style’ instant latte. Some brands are also quite rightly looking at more important factors like the quality of coffee beans used and the method of the drying process itself which heavily influences the overall quality of instant coffee.

Best instant coffee at a glance

  • Best all-rounder instant coffee: Quokka Coffee Premium Colombian Fairtrade Coffee, from £9.99
  • Best naturally sweet instant coffee: TrueStart Coffee Barista Grade Instant Coffee, from £6.49
  • Best instant coffee for packaging: Presto Colombian Instant Coffee, from £6.99
  • Best Italian instant coffee: Lavazza Prontissimo Americano Instant Coffee, from £5.20
  • Best instant coffee collaboration: Nescafe Azera Grindsmith Craft Instant Coffee, £3.33
  • Best flavored instant coffee: Beanies Nutty Hazelnut Flavor Instant Coffee, £4.73
  • Best coffee bags selection: Artisan Coffee Co. Coffee Bags, pious £7.25
  • Best large coffee bags: Faff Single Origin Coffee Bags, from £24 for 30 bags

What is instant coffee?

Instant coffee is dried-out coffee extract that is instantly re-dissolvable in hot water. It can either be freeze-dried or spray-dried. Overall, the freeze-dried process leads to better flavor and aroma and generally produces a higher quality instant coffee. Spray-dried instant coffee can often have a burnt flavour.

Types of beans used in instant coffee can be either Arabica or Robusta or a blend of the two, but I would always recommend looking for coffee that uses Arabica, a much higher quality, better tasting bean.

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The main reasons to drink instant coffee are for time efficiency (it is very quick to make), plus it is usually cheaper than coffee beans or ground coffee. Instant coffee requires no barista skills or equipment and has a long shelf life. Nutritionally, instant coffee usually has less caffeine (due to the drying process) than traditionally made coffee but still holds a lot of coffee’s antioxidants.

Best instant coffee to buy 2023

Quokka Coffee Premium Colombian Fairtrade Coffee

Quokka Coffee

Best all-rounder instant coffee

Quokka uses Fairtrade and FNC-certified coffee, ensuring it is ethically and sustainably sourced. This 100% Colombian Arabica freeze-dried coffee comes in a simply designed but memorable red recyclable aluminum tin. The light-in-colour dry chunky granules have a subtle aroma. I was really surprised by my first sip as it was pleasant and didn’t have a strong astringent bitter taste often associated with instant coffee. The cup was clean with no crema, which I liked because it looked like a proper filter coffee. It has a nice aroma and is smooth to drink if you don’t use too many granules: I used 1.5 teaspoons.

At £9.99 for 100g, it is more expensive than most of the supermarket brands, but worth the extra few pounds if you are supplementing your specialty coffee with the odd instant. There are also bulk-buy options for offices or higher volume drinkers.

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