As everyone knows, instant coffee requires only eight ounces of hot water and a touch of witchcraft harnessed from the root of a coffee plant. Just kidding. In most cases, instant coffee is just freeze-dried coffee beans. Too often, those beans lose all flavor and depth in the freeze-drying process, which is why instant coffee is left with the reputation of being bitter, flat, garbage, and gross. However, it's way faster and simpler than brewing regular coffee, and with this capitalist economy driving our lives into the ground, coffee companies know that you don't always have the time to brew a fresh cup. That's why they've improved the taste of instant coffee dramatically. We're not talking those packs of dried bat feces that are available in low-end motels. No, the instant coffee business is reformed and fancy.
No one is going to agree on what specifications make the best coffee. So we've compiled a list of instant coffees to choose from, whether your main concern is getting out the door, surviving the work day, or choosing ethical and environmentally conscious companies. That last bullet is no joke. And in case you're a picky coffee drinker, all five of the below options come in a variety of roasts—some with multiple origins, too. Told you that the industry has really upped its standards.
On the mornings when the pot timer doesn't go off and you don't have a second to spare waiting for a slow brew, this is your quick fix. Nescafé's take on instant coffee is so much better than what you might remember from years back, because Nescafé doesn't use just one bland bean anymore. It has variations (House Blend, Colombian, and French Roast), each with its own roast and flavor profile, making your instant coffee nearly as customizable as your traditional coffee. With just about a spoonful of coffee and a cup of hot water, it is a more than suitable alternative. Bonus: It's also one of the most affordable alternatives on this list. Starbucks? In this economy??
Do not share this secret with anyone you work or live with, because once you do, you'll immediately lose all of your little coffee pouches. I know this, because the other Esquire writers took all of mine, like monsters. These single-serve pouches are a godsend. All you need to do is drop one into some piping hot water, let it steep for about five minutes, and then you're set. Unlike other instant coffees, Steeped does not dissolve; there's something comforting about that. Is 16 bucks steep (sorry, I had to) for eight bags? On the surface, sure. But it's the best cup of nearly-instant coffee that you're going to find, and it's environmentally friendly to boot—the packaging is biodegradable, so it won't leave a footprint once you toss it away.
Not only does one jar get you through approximately 50 servings, but Mount Hagen prides itself on being the "conscience of the global coffee industry." On top of being fair trade, it's organic. Double win. The coffee flavor is a bit light, so it's not going to be the most robust option on the list, but if you want something that stays right in line with the type of coffee you'd get from freshly ground, legitimately high-range Arabica im电竞官网-beans, then Mount Hagen is a solid choice.
Listen, if we're being real, most instant coffees taste a shade like, well, instant coffee. Something isn't quite right. But Verve subverts that notion and sells varieties that transcend the instant coffee curse. Its hand-roasted, small batch Streetlevel is the most flavorful option on this list outside of Steeped, but it remains a trueim电竞官网- instant coffee in that it requires no steeping time. It simply needs water, and you're good to go. The only downside is that eight-packs-for-16-bucks situation.
Waka is actually quite a nice coffee, and for those who come to prefer it over coffee shop brews or simply have no im电竞官网-patience for making their own in a pot, mails out eight packets a month. It's ethically conscious when it comes to sourcing its beans. The taste is pretty high-end for an instant coffee, and Waka donates four percent of its profits to the "Add Water, Give Water" program, which helps fund clean water projects. Oh, and it probably will do your homework for you. It does it all!