The 7 Best Instant Coffees of 2020, Reviewed

By Mark Stock

It’s nearly impossible to outdo a patiently-addressed, perfectly-made cup of coffee. The galaxy of Java is a large one, spanning everything from the health benefits of coffee and sustainable farming policies to luxury beans on par with some of the most expensive agricultural products on the planet. As the saying aptly goes, there’s nothing quite like the first sip of the day. In fact, we think you should have multiple sips.

With the innumerable options out there — what with scores of growing regions, harvesting methods, and roast levels –it can be tricky to know what should be in your grinder and ultimately your cup. Luckily, we’ve narrowed down some of the best options for you already. But let’s face it: You don’t always have the time or willpower for a traditional cup of joe. Sometimes you need something eye-opening and tasty and you need it pronto.

That’s where instant coffee struts in, offering a career-making cameo. We know what you’re thinking. Really, Folgers? Not quite. The instant coffee realm has both improved and attracted a host of new purveyors over the last handful of years. It’s no longer the laughing stock of the coffee world. Instead, it’s a growing category with some interesting players in the mix, trying new techniques to make sure you’re adequately caffeinated.

Here are some of the best to check out when you want a good cup but lack the time, equipment, or motivation to make a proper coffee.

Stumptown Dripkit

Pacific Northwest coffee powerhouse Stumptown recently entered the instant market by way of the clever collaborators over at Dripkit. Now, you get all of that carefully-roasted Stumptown flavor in a convenient, on-the-go format.

Waka Coffee

Waka is an easy mention not only because the flavor is appealing but because the coffee practically makes itself. It’s a quick, effortless cup of coffee that tastes like the work of your favorite barista.

Swift Cup

Swift specializes in small packets of instant coffee with big flavor profiles. The company is making instant coffee — something that admittedly still feels a little geriatric at times — cool and stylish, as it should be.


Los Angeles roasters Canyon Coffee just make a single instant option but it’s worth seeking out. Made from Ethiopian beans, it’s one of the most richly flavored and well-rounded takes in all of instant coffee land.


A favorite among coffee writers coast to coast, Verve boasts an impressive selection made from beans sourced from all over the map. They even have seasonal instant coffee options for the most festive caffeine junkies out there.

Phil & Sebastian

Floral and fruit-driven, the instant coffee from Phil & Sebastian is lively and enjoyable. The approach is unique, with the coffee coming in the form of recyclable tubes with concentrated Jo inside. Just add water and take in the tasty jolt.


Bay area roaster Ritual created a new line of instant coffees with the help of fellow coffee purveyors Swift. Their beans are subjected to a crystallization process and put in convenient pouches. It’s single origin and deceptively tasty stuff.

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