Instant coffee is not a new concept; it’s been around for decades. However, over the past few years, there’s been an increased interest amongst craft coffee roasters in making convenient yet high-quality coffee options available to customers. When I’m at home, I always grind and brew fresh, but when I’m traveling, sometimes I would like to have a coffee option that 1) requires no cleanup, 2) requires nothing more than hot water. I love seeking out new coffee shops when I’m away from home, but it is also nice to not have to leave my AirBnB/hotel/etc. in order to have a cup, especially if it’s really cold outside.
The last time I traveled abroad (Oxford, England last June), I brought this 4-pack of instant coffee with me. I purchased it off of Intelligentsia’s website for $13 ($3.25/serving), which is pricey for instant coffee, but I rationalized this by telling myself I’d be saving a little money by not having to go out for coffee if this stuff was any good. It took up almost no room in my bag, it didn’t cause any trouble at customs, and knowing ahead of time that my AirBnB had a hot water kettle, I knew that I’d be guaranteed a way to drink this.
(By the way, can I just marvel at how FAST water kettles heat up in places with 250V?? It takes forever in comparison to heat water in my Bonavita kettle on 110V at home…)
I didn’t love the fact that there was a comparatively large amount of plastic packaging with this product, but I liked the test-tube design, and the compact size was a plus. Making this couldn’t have been easier – just stir the contents into hot water.
I had fairly low expectations and I will say that the coffee did its job – it was more flavorful than I expected instant coffee to be, especially considering my childhood history with Taster’s Choice. There was a slight citrusy note to the brew, and the coffee itself looked comparable to what you might expect from a pourover method – clean with no grit or visible oils, and quite dark (when brewed with around 8 ounces of water). However, it did not taste as great to me as something freshly brewed – there was an odd, slightly chalky flavor note to it that I attribute to the freeze-drying process. It wasn’t a terrible product – I liked that I was able to get a single-origin instant coffee, and there is definitely something to be said for the convenience factor, but $3.25 a cup is a little steep in my opinion to buy regularly!
Summary: Convenient to brew when traveling (just add water). Cleanup is a breeze. Flavor is better than expected, especially when compared to standard grocery-store instant coffee options, but doesn’t quite live up to the taste of freshly-brewed craft coffee. Expensive enough that you may prefer to simply go out for coffee instead.