Instant coffee gets a bad rap. It’s often considered to be a last resort for coffee drinkers when they don’t have time to brew a proper pot in the morning. What you don’t know? Instant coffee is in the midst of an epic renaissance: Sales went up by nearly 30 percent in 2020 as more and more people began making their daily joe at home. Not only does it provide a consistent cup, but offerings have dramatically improved since its last American heyday in the ’80s. Don’t believe us? We tested a slew of popular options to find the best instant coffee brands out there that deliver a joe just as delicious as one brewed with a drip machine or a French press.
To test them, we prepared each instant coffee according to its package instructions, making one hot cup and one cold if applicable. We added a bit of milk for tasting, unless the instant coffee already included creamer, and no extra sugar. Then, we rated them based on affordability, quality of ingredients and processing, ease of use and functionality (can it be made with either hot and cold water? Can you only make one cup at a time?), dissolvability and flavor. Read on for our top picks.