Coffee lovers know there’s an deep value in being able to drink a good cup of coffee while traveling. Having coffee on the go is like being able to bring a soul-soothing piece of home with you whether you’re at work or traveling to some foreign land. Decades ago, instant coffee was synonymous with bad coffee. You basically sacrificed all flavor for convenience. However, the realm of instant coffee has changed dramatically thanks to new technologies that help preserve flavor and freshness. Additionally, companies are also using much higher quality coffee beans. Out of this has emerged a new industry that’s taken the coffee world by storm: specialty instant coffee. In this article we take a closer look at the best instant coffee brands available.
The best instant coffee brands represent the upper echelon of the instant coffee market and yet they are not all created equal. We’ve done the legwork and put together a list of some of the best specialty instant coffees of 2023 designed for the discerning coffee lover on the go.
Topping off our list of best instant coffee brands is Alpine Start Coffee. They are an instant specialty coffee that makes bold claims.
“Instant Coffee that actually tastes good. Tastier than Starbucks. Quicker than Keurig. And fits in your pocket.“
We actually reviewed this product recently and were thoroughly impressed by how fully the company delivered on these lofty promises. It is, in fact, tastier than many gourmet coffees out there including Starbucks. The crystallized coffee grounds dissolve smoothly and quickly. And the pocket-sized sachets are very convenient. This coffee is full of flavor, extra smooth, and full of body. These are traits not commonly used to describe instant coffee. Not surprisingly, this is the type of instant specialty coffee you’d drink even when you had time to use a French Press or Pour Over. At the end of the day, Alpine Start Coffee is nothing like the instant you coffee you may have grown up hearing about.
As one of the best tasting instant coffees on this exclusive list, Alpine Coffee is a prime example of the merging of quality and convenience.
Having already tried some of Equator Coffee’s whole bean offerings (review), we knew we were in for a treat when we discovered their instant coffee. Their coffee on the go comes in compostable packets that are about the size of a standard a sugar packet. I did a test and tried their specialty coffee right after drinking their standard whole bean coffee. I was shocked to discover that I could barely tell the difference as both brews. Both were full bodied, bold in flavor, and had a delightful aftertaste.
Waka Coffee is another pioneering instant coffee brand that has set out to redefine the meaning of a historically stigmatized industry. And they’ve done a great job. Similar to Sudden Coffee, Waka Coffee uses 100% Arabica coffee beans and freeze-dries their coffee to ensure maximum aroma and flavor. The company sources their coffee from Colombia and donates 4% of all sales to Charity Water. I was impressed by the coffee’s bold and authentic flavor which is something I never thought I’d say about an instant coffee. Whether you’re camping, on the go, or just want the convenience of not having to brew a morning pot of coffee, Waka Coffee delivers as promised. Check out our full Waka Coffee Review for more details. In our opinion, this is one of the best tasting instant coffee brands out there.
With a storied history that spans three decades, Intelligentsia Coffee is considered one of the pioneers of the specialty coffee industry. And they’ve gone portable. They offer a instant espresso known as the Black Cat espresso and it delivers a classically rich flavor on the go. Their freeze dried instant specialty coffee will delight you with notes of dark chocolate, raw sugar and marshmallow based. This product is actually their best-selling signature espresso blend which can also be used for making milk-based drinks such as cappuccinos or lattes. Each box contains 5 sachets.
We recently had a chance to do a Wildland Coffee review and can confidently include this coffee on our list of best instant coffees and portable brews. This coffee is unique for the coffee experience it delivers. This is in part due to their unique delivery which is branded as “Coffee in a Tea Bag”. This brew method places nitrogen flushed grounds in a tea bag that’s then steeped in hot water. It’s simple and easy. But more importantly, because the grounds are steeped, the coffee yields a much deeper and fuller flavor than other options. The company sources specialty-grade beans from Brazil that offer a light to medium body with a hint of citrus. You can use the following code BQ10 to get 10% off your entire order. Free shipping is also available for orders over $10.
For the coffee lover who prefers a sweet brew, we recommend checking out Copper Cow. They specialize in Vietnamese coffee at its finest. Their single serve pour over kits also come with a packet of sweetened condense milk. Incidentally, this milk is sourced from Californian cows. These pouches are biodegradable and incredibly convenient. In a mere 90 seconds, you’ll be able to enjoy a very bold and smooth pour over worthy of the finest cafe.
If you’re a fan of Vietnamese Coffee, we recommend checking out Slow Ride Instant Coffee. Sourced from the highlands of Vietnam, this coffee is carefully grown, harvested, and then roasted by master Vietnamese coffee roasters. This coffee offers a deep robust flavor that lacks the sharp acidity of many coffees. In fact, it could be considered a solid low acid instant coffee option.
As an added bonus, the company also focuses on sustainability by providing workers with a living wage, maintaining a plastic-free supply chain, and aiming to be carbon negative by 2022. Last but not least, the company has a 100% satisfaction guarantee which is a testament to just how confident they are in their brand.
Coffee Blenders is a relatively new entrant into the world of organic single serve pour overs. But as they say “age is nothing but a number”. In a short period of time, Coffee Blenders has already won over the hearts of coffee geeks and coffee snobs around the world with their deeply robust coffee. Their ingenious coffee delivery method ensures you no longer have to settle for mediocre coffee when traveling. With Coffee Blenders, you literally have specialty gourmet coffee ready at your finger tips. Definitely worth a look if you travel a lot and care about the quality of your coffee. For more details on this portable coffee, check out our full Coffee Blenders review.
Bio Coffee claims to be the “healthiest coffee in the world”. Mind you this is coming from a coffee that you can take on the go. Once again, these are some of the boldest claims you can make especially in the highly competitive industry of coffee. I’m going to ask the audience to keep an open mind when I say these next words: Bio Coffee is decaffeinated. I realize what I’m about to say may sound a little over the top; but it’s true all the same and based on my experience of drinking this brew almost every single day multiple times a day for the last 6+ months. Bio Coffee is considered instant coffee of the highest caliber in that it confers a literal wealth of health benefits in addition to tasting great.
Even if Bio Coffee provided all of these health benefits, it wouldn’t make our best portable coffees list if it failed our taste tests. Bio Coffee has a rich malty, nutty flavor that’s very satisfying. It tastes like a light to medium roast. While I’m usually partial to medium and darker roasts, there’s something about the flavor that still suits my palette perfectly. I’m actually drinking my third cup of the day as I write this article. When I first heard of Bio Coffee, I was resistant to trying it even though it was recommended to me by someone whose coffee opinion I highly respect. It took me 7 months to get over the biases I had and I finally tried it. I’m glad I did because if hadn’t, I would have been missing out on one of the drinks I enjoy most in life. I’m not trying to do a full Bio coffee review here, but I can say that one of the biggest benefits of this coffee is that turns your body alkaline (a person’s pH is critical to their health). See our article on ways to turn your coffee alkaline. With such an enjoyable flavor, it was hard to believe that Bio Coffee contained vitamins, nutrients, minerals, and 6g of fiber. Wheatgrass which has a laundry list of health benefits is its key ingredient in addition to premium Arabica coffee.
Bio Coffee gave me an energy that was naturally different from caffeine, but no less effective in my opinion. The energy just came from different sources. I refer to it regularly as powdered gold and have shared it with my family, extended family, and friends. Check out our full Bio Coffee Review for more details.
Best Edible Coffee on the Go
An honorable mention on this list is a new product that we recently discovered. It’s called Eat Your Coffee and well, the brand name couldn’t be more descriptive. The reason this product isn’t officially on the list is probably obvious to most people. This obviously isn’t coffee you’d sip. This is edible coffee in the form of snack bars and made from 100% non-GMO Fair Trade Coffee beans. Unlike some other coffee snack bars which are artificially caffeinated, Eat Your Coffee takes the natural route resulting in a “cleaner” source of energy. The coffee lovers who founded Eat Your Coffee have always made it clear that their product isn’t designed to replace coffee. That’d be unheard of. Rather, this tasty and healthy treat is meant to give you a needed boost when you’re in between meals or just on the go. I go on hikes regularly and I could easily see this type of snack easily replacing any energy bars in my bag. Eat Your Coffee comes in a number of tantalizing flavors such as Peanut Butter Mocha, Salted Caramel Macchiato, and Fudge Mocha Latte. Check out our full Eat Your Coffee review for more details on one of the best edible coffee products out there.
Best Coffee on the Go: Cold Brew – Forto Coffee Shot
Branded as the #1 Organic Coffee Shot on the market, the Forto Coffee Shot is a condensed cold brew that packs a punch for those looking for it. Having personally used it, I can say that its bold claims are justified. It works quickly and gives you a clean energy boost that doesn’t crash with headaches. This may not be a mature thing to say, but the most important part is that it tastes good. I prefer stronger and bold flavors which makes this product a good match for me. This was a “life-saver” when I had to drive late at night. Knowing that it’s USDA-certified organic is also a huge bonus in my book. Forto Coffee Shots is available in the 100mg (average amount of caffeine in cup of coffee) or 200mg version. The shot is small enough to fit into a pocket or purse making it for very practical and manageable to carry. For more detailed info on our experience with this product, check out our Forto Coffee Review.
As good as the Forto Coffee Shot is when it comes to getting your caffeine, what if you prefer hot coffee?
The above list of the best portable coffees is by no means exclusive. Technology in the coffee industry continues to push the boundaries of what was thought possible. I know it may the kid-like self in me, but being able to enjoy quality coffee of this caliber when you’re traveling is one of life’s simplest pleasures. While some coffee snobs may balk at the though of instant coffee, I think they’d be pleasantly surprised as we were by what’s currently available.
Back in the day, for those old enough to remember, there was a slogan for Buick which in a catchy tune said “This is not your father’s Oldsmobile”. Similarly, these are “not your father’s instant coffees”…nor his organic coffee shots for that matter.
Related Link: If you’re a coffee lover on the go, check out our selection of quality instant coffees.