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Best instant coffee 2021: The most flavourful and affordable instant coffees from Nescafe, Illy, Kenco and more

Best instant coffee 2021: The most flavourful and affordable instant coffees from Nescafe, Illy, Kenco and more

Want a tasty caffeine kick thats ready in seconds? Our list of the best instant coffee brands will get you through the daily grind

Nothing can replace the taste of a freshly made bean-to-cup brew, but the best instant coffees can fill the gap when you dont have the time or the budget to use a full-sized coffee machine. And if you havent tried instant coffee lately, or have been sticking to the same brand for a few years, you might be surprised at the quality of the options out there.

All the major coffee brands have been competing to produce the best-tasting, most cost-efficient products in a bid to keep their caffeine-fiending customers happy and some amazing instant coffees have emerged as a result. You also have smaller, independent companies rising up on the instant coffee scene, introducing bold, unusual flavours and whole new ways to enjoy your rapidly made cuppa.

Whether youre after a more luxurious coffee, a tried and trusted classic or an innovative new brew, our list of the best instant coffees will have you sipping delicious, ready-made java in no time.

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Best standard instant coffee: Kenco Smooth InstantBuy now

Best ground instant coffee: Nescafe Azera AmericanoBuy now

Best luxury instant coffee: Illy ClassicoBuy now

Best flavoured instant coffee: Beanies Irish CreamBuy now

Best coffee bags: Moreish Intense BrewBuy now

How to choose the best instant coffee for you

What are the different kinds of instant coffee?

When most people think of instant coffee, they probably picture the dark brown crumbs inside a Nescafe Original jar, but instant coffee is actually available in a variety of forms. Here are the main kinds to look out for.

Coffee granules:As mentioned, coffee granules (aka coffee crystals or soluble coffee) remain the most common form of instant coffee. Confusingly, not all coffee granules are made equal. There are two main methods of producing coffee granules:

This is a cheap method of turning brewed coffee into instant coffee granules. The spray-drying process is highly economical but results in much of the coffees flavour being lost, meaning theres no point in using high-end coffee beans. Spray-dried coffee can be identified by its dark brown colour and small, rounded particles.

Freeze-drying preserves more of the aroma and flavour profile of brewed coffee, but the process is more costly and time-consuming. Because the flavour is more integral, coffee companies tend to choose good-quality Arabica beans rather than the cheaper Robusta beans used for spray-drying. Freeze-dried instant coffee has a light brown colour and the particles are larger and firmer.

Coffee powder:This type of coffee, also referred to as micro-ground coffee, has the texture of a silky powder made up of tiny particles smaller than grains of sand. Its essentially produced in the same way as instant coffee granules and then micro-ground into powder form. However, some coffee powders use a blend to boost the flavours. Nescafes Americano Azera, for instance, consists of a blended mix of freeze-dried coffee and roasted coffee beans.

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Coffee bags:Admittedly, this coffee isnt instant it takes as long to make as a tea but its still pre-made and doesnt require any special equipment. Coffee bags contain roasted coffee beans that have been ground and then sealed for freshness the caffeine, flavours and aromas are then released when the bag is brewed in hot water.

Instant coffee has a longer shelf life than whole or ground coffee beans due to the way its been preserved. An unopened jar should keep for at least a year and, once you do open it, it will be good for another three months. A typical 100g container of instant coffee has around 50 mugs worth of coffee inside, so if youre a daily drinker youll finish it well within the best before date.

The best instant coffees on the market will set you back around 5-6 per 100g container, which means youll be paying about 10-12p per cup you drink. In our opinion, its worth paying that little extra for a coffee that comes closest to the real barista experience. With that said, you can still get excellent freeze-dried instant coffee for about 3-4 per jar.

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Smooth Instant is Kencos most popular instant coffee and its no wonder why. This freeze-dried blend makes a smooth and well-rounded cup of coffee thats ready in seconds. There are countless other freeze-dried coffees at this price, but theres something about the balanced flavour and rich aroma of this medium-roast coffee that keeps a legion of UK coffee drinkers coming back for more. Rather than the 100g jar, weve listed the 150g refill bag which has 97% less packaging weight. Like other Kenco products, Smooth Instant is produced in line with Rainforest Alliance guidelines.

Key details Type:Granules;Pack size:150g;Number of servings:93 cups;Ethical credentials:Rainforest Alliance

Without a doubt, Nescafes Azera Americano is the best micro-ground coffee you can buy. A blend of Nescafe freeze-dried instant coffee and roasted coffee beans that have been ground into a silt-like powder, Azera coffee dissolves effortlessly into hot water to produce a medium-strength coffee that smells and tastes great.

The fine powder makes such a smooth cup that its surprising more brands havent caught on, although some supermarkets (such as Sainsburys) are now putting out their own cheaper micro-ground efforts. Nescafe is partnered with the Rainforest Alliance, so theres no need to feel guilty as you kick back with your micro-ground brew.

Key details Type:Powder;Pack size:100g;Number of servings:55 cups;Ethical credentials:Rainforest Alliance

Nescafe Azera Americano Instant Coffee, 100g3.60 (36.00 / kg)Buy now3. Illy Classico: The best premium instant coffee

The omnipresent Illy logo is instantly recognisable, normally seen in cafes and hotels across the world. It also comes in an instant canned form, so you dont need to spend 5 per cup in a fancy coffeehouse to enjoy those distinctive Italian espresso flavours. Of the various instant Illy products on the market, Illys Classico Classic Roast flavour is easily the most popular and, once you try it, its sure to be a staple of your weekly shop.

Made up entirely of roasted Arabica beans in freeze-dried and micro-ground form, then sealed in a pressurised container, the flavours and aroma are rich and well preserved. As far as instant coffees go, this is about as fancy as it gets and the price reflects that. But theres a reason its the instant brew of choice for so many: it tastes wonderful, even without the addition of milk and sugar.

Key details Type:Granules;Pack size:95g;Number of servings:50 cups;Ethical credentials:Ethisphere Worlds Most Ethical Companies List (9-time honoree)

If youre after a little excitement in your daily cuppa, this Irish cream flavour from Beanies might be the instant coffee for you. Rather than pouring a calorific and alcoholic splash of Baileys into your coffee each morning (a fun habit, but not the healthiest), you could instead enjoy this convincing and nearly calorie-free alternative. And even if that flavour doesnt satisfy, there are over 20 other interesting flavours to choose from, including hazelnut, chai latte and maple fudge. The only real downside is the small jar, which contains around 25 cups worth of coffee.

Key details Type:Granules;Pack size:50g;Number of servings:25 cups;Ethical credentials:Not listed

Beanies Irish Cream Flavour Instant Coffee 50 g2.00 (6.67 / kg)Buy now5. Moreish Intense Brew: The best coffee bags

Every bag of Moreish coffee contains flavourful coffee that has been blended, roasted, ground and then sealed, locking in the freshness of the Rainforest Alliance-approved Peruvian beans. The great thing about these coffee bags is that you can adjust the caffeine content and flavour intensity to your liking by letting the bag sit for a longer or shorter period of time. After three to five minutes of brewing, you can remove the compost-friendly bag and sip away, adding milk and sugar to taste if you choose.

Key details Type:Bags;Pack size:400g;Number of servings:50 bags;Ethical credentials:Rainforest Alliance

Moreish Coffee Bags – Intense Brew – Rainforest Alliance (50 Strong Coffee Bags)11.49 (0.23 / count)Buy nowRead moreBest BuysAdvertisementMost popular articles

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