• 10 Best Instant Coffees in the UK 2021 (Nescafé Azera, Starbucks and More) 1
  • 10 Best Instant Coffees in the UK 2021 (Nescafé Azera, Starbucks and More) 2
  • 10 Best Instant Coffees in the UK 2021 (Nescafé Azera, Starbucks and More) 3
  • 10 Best Instant Coffees in the UK 2021 (Nescafé Azera, Starbucks and More) 4
  • 10 Best Instant Coffees in the UK 2021 (Nescafé Azera, Starbucks and More) 5

10 Best Instant Coffees in the UK 2021 (Nescafé Azera, Starbucks and More)

We seem to have a bit of a love/hate relationship with instant coffee, but according to the British Coffee Association, 80% of UK households stock it in their cupboards. Coffee snobbery aside, there’s no denying it’s convenient for rushed mornings, camping trips, or stashing in your drawer at work. Plus it’s cheaper than both your local coffee shop and a bag of ground!

Instant coffee has come a long way in terms of flavour and innovation, with brands like Nescafé and Starbucks offering classic blends alongside cappuccino sachets, tasty decafs, and bold espressos. We’re here to assist in hunting down your perfect brew, as well as sharing the 10 best instant coffees to buy online from Amazon, eBay and supermarkets like Asda and Tesco.

This post's specialists

Celeste Wong
  • Last updated: 16-03-2021
  • 34,931 views
Table of Contents

How to Choose an Instant Coffee in the UK – Buying Guide

First of all, forget the notion that instant is going to taste exactly the same as fresh, and accept it as a quick, tasty coffee that’s easy enough to make even when you’re still half asleep. Here are some top tips on picking a café-quality instant.

Choose 100% Arabica for the Highest Quality or a Robusta Blend for a Cheaper Option

Choose 100% Arabica for the Highest Quality or a Robusta Blend for a Cheaper Option
The two main species of coffee grown are Arabica and Robusta, with arabica making up 60% of the world’s production and generally considered as the better quality, better-tasting bean. It’s known for delivering a nuttier, easy-to-drink coffee with rich notes of chocolate, berries, and fruit, and is also more expensive to produce.
Robusta, on the other hand, is smokier, earthier and more bitter, as well as being cheaper to grow and produce. Most instant coffees will use a blend of the two to cut down on costs, and to utilise arabica’s sweetness and flavour as a way to balance out robusta’s bitter notes.
If it’s a premium, top-tier instant coffee you’re after, we would suggest looking for claims of “100% arabica” on the box, bearing in mind that if it says nothing, it’s more than likely a blend of the two. The main draw of blends is that they’re more budget-friendly, though you may just prefer the addition of robusta’s dark bitterness.

Look for Freeze-Dried Instants for a Better Flavour

Look for Freeze-Dried Instants for a Better Flavour
Another tip for determining whether an instant coffee is of high quality (and therefore has a better flavour) is to check whether it is freeze-dried. If it’s not freeze-dried, then it’s spray dried, which is a more inexpensive way of processing that exposes the coffee to temperatures of up to 250 degrees.
Most java drinkers know that you should always use hot, and never boiling, water to prevent the coffee from burning and tasting charred and bitter, so it makes sense that spray-dried coffee is the lesser recommended of the two.
Freeze drying, of course, uses much colder temperatures to dry the coffee extracts, which is said to better preserve the aromas and ensure the final result is smoother and more palatable. Again, if the label does not say it is freeze-dried, it probably isn’t, and once again the cheaper processing method will make for a cheaper product price.

Light, Medium, or Dark Roast – Pick Your Favourite

Light, Medium, or Dark Roast – Pick Your Favourite
A big part of choosing your coffee is making sure you get one with a taste you enjoy, as you’re probably the one that’s going to be drinking it every day! Before instant coffee is dried, it’s roasted. Unfortunately, stating whether the roast is light, medium, or dark is not as common on an instant coffee’s label as it is on a bag of beans or ground.
Alternatively, some instants feature a scale from 1-5 on the packaging to describe the coffee’s roast from light to dark, or even a strength scale, which can also help you select to your preferences. Here is a brief explanation of each type for those that do state the roast:
  • Light Roast: Roasted at the lowest temperature of the three, light roasts retain most of the original coffee bean’s characteristics, and also most of its caffeine. They are lightest in flavour, as well as being fruity and more acidic.

  • Medium Roast: This roast makes for a dark yet caramel-sweet flavour and is the most well-liked as it strikes that perfect “just-right” balance between bitterness and acidity.

  • Dark Roast: Roasted for the longest amount of time at the highest temperature, which reduces the caffeine content and makes for a nutty, chocolate flavour. Terms such as bold, deep, and full-bodied describe dark roasts, so if you see these on the label it may well be a dark roast.

Consider Barista Blends With Added Ground Coffee for a More Convincing Taste

Consider Barista Blends With Added Ground Coffee for a More Convincing Taste
The latest innovation in instant coffees is to add a small amount of ground coffee into the mix, which often results in a taste more similar to that of your favourite coffee shop’s Americano. Percentages will vary, with some adding 3% and others up to 15%.
Go for a greater percentage for the most convincing taste, which is also delicious when recreating iced coffees and frappes. They tend to market themselves as “barista blend”, or “barista-style”, but it’s always worth scanning the ingredients for mention of ground coffee if this is something that appeals to you.

Other Types of Instant Such as Pre-Mixed Cappuccinos Save on Takeaway Coffees

Other Types of Instant Such as Pre-Mixed Cappuccinos Save on Takeaway Coffees
For convenience when travelling or on the go, you could also consider instant coffees that are pre-mixed with other ingredients such as milk powder to replicate cappuccinos, lattes, or traditional white coffees. Nowadays, they often come in a variety of tempting flavours too. 
They’re life-saving when you don’t have access to a fridge or milk, and savvy if you’re trying to cut costs on takeaway lattes and other treats. Do consider the fact some of them contain sugars, sweeteners and other additives, so if you take your coffee without or don’t fancy the extra calories, choose unsweetened varieties.

Decide Which Packaging Type Would Suit You Best

Finally, ensure that you pick an instant coffee with a container that suits your needs and is sized appropriately for you or your household’s coffee consumption. Here we’ll discuss the draws of the main varieties you’ll come across when browsing online.

Glass Jars Are Reusable and Retain Freshness but Are Often Expensive

Glass Jars Are Reusable and Retain Freshness but Are Often Expensive
Sealed with foil and a screw-top lid, glass jars of instant coffee keep the contents dry and fresh. And once you’ve bought one, you can top it up with refill packets that are sold online in varying sizes from 150 g and even up to 600 g.
This is worth remembering when you notice their steeper price tag because their higher production cost is inevitably passed onto you as the consumer. Glass jars can also be reused or repurposed for many other things, or easily recycled at home.

Boxes and Tins Are a Match for Bulk Buyers and Large Households

Boxes and Tins Are a Match for Bulk Buyers and Large Households
Lidded boxes or tins are available in average-household 100-150 g sizes, but you’ll also find much larger sizes (particularly online), which will weigh in at 500 g or even a mighty 1 kg.
These larger sizes are an economical option for fuller households, those of you who sip on several cups a day, or anyone who wants to stock up and save money by buying in bulk. Just be sure to only buy an extra-large size if you know you will be able to drink it before it loses its freshness.

Sachets and Sticks Are Portable and Convenient but Servings Are Predetermined

Sachets and Sticks Are Portable and Convenient but Servings Are Predetermined
Sachets are the packaging of choice for pre-mixed instant coffees such as cappuccinos and lattes, as well as instant coffee grounds or the more simple coffee-plus-milk varieties. They are the most portable options so are excellent for travel or work, or for those who don’t get through an open jar quickly enough.
As for their disadvantages, they are usually more expensive per hundred grams than larger containers, and may not suit you if you like especially weak or strong coffee because they are already portioned out

Top 10 Best Instant Coffees in the UK

Now you know what makes a good instant coffee, it’s time to get your caffeine! We have included a decaffeinated option on our list, however, for those who’d like all of the taste and none of the jitters. Here are our picks, ranked by value, quality, and deliciousness.

10

Kenco2-in-1 Instant Smooth White Coffee Sachets

5 Sachets

£1.00

Arabica/Robusta
Freeze-DriedNo
RoastMedium
Ground Coffee AddedNo
Type of CoffeeWhite coffee
PackagingSachet
9

StarbucksCaramel Latte Premium Instant Sachets

5 Sachets

£2.69

Arabica/Robusta100% arabica
Freeze-DriedNo
RoastMedium
Ground CoffeeYes, 0.1%
Type of CoffeeCaramel latte
PackagingSachet
8

NescaféCap Colombia Arabica Instant Coffee

500 g

£25.65

Arabica/Robusta100% arabica
Freeze-DriedYes
RoastLight
Ground CoffeeNo
Type of CoffeeBlack
PackagingTin
7

TrueStartBarista Grade Instant Coffee

100 g

£5.99

Arabica/Robusta100% arabica
Freeze-DriedYes
RoastMedium
Ground CoffeeNo
Type of CoffeeBlack
PackagingTin
6

KencoMillicano Americano Decaff Instant Coffee

100 g

£2.49

Arabica/Robusta
Freeze-DriedYes
RoastMedium
Ground CoffeeYes, 15%
Type of CoffeeBlack coffee (decaffeinated)
PackagingTin
5

Nescafé Gold Unsweetened Cappuccino Sachets

50 Sachets

£13.86

Arabica/Robusta
Freeze-DriedNo
RoastMedium
Ground CoffeeYes
Type of CoffeeCappuccino (unsweetened)
PackagingSachet
4
Arabica/Robusta
Freeze-DriedYes
RoastMedium
Ground CoffeeNo
Type of CoffeeBlack
PackagingGlass jar
3

Clipper Fairtrade Super Special Organic Arabica Coffee

100 g

£4.00

Arabica/Robusta100% arabica
Freeze-DriedYes
RoastMedium
Ground CoffeeNo
Type of CoffeeBlack
PackagingGlass jar
2
Arabica/RobustaArabica and robusta blend
Freeze-DriedYes
RoastMedium
Ground CoffeeYes, 5%
Type of CoffeeBlack
PackagingTin
1

Café DirectFairtrade Machu Picchu Instant Coffee

2 x 100 g

£9.85

Arabica/Robusta100% arabica
Freeze-DriedYes
RoastMedium
Ground CoffeeNo
Type of CoffeeBlack
PackagingGlass jar

Compare the Best Instant Coffees

Image
1
Café Direct Fairtrade Machu Picchu Instant Coffee 1

Café Direct

2
Nescafé Azera Americano Instant Coffee 1

Nescafé

3
Clipper  Fairtrade Super Special Organic Arabica Coffee 1

Clipper

4
Douwe Egberts Pure Gold Instant Coffee 1

Douwe Egberts

5
Nescafé  Gold Unsweetened Cappuccino Sachets 1

Nescafé

6
Kenco Millicano Americano Decaff Instant Coffee 1

Kenco

7
TrueStart Barista Grade Instant Coffee 1

TrueStart

8
Nescafé Cap Colombia Arabica Instant Coffee 1

Nescafé

9
Starbucks Caramel Latte Premium Instant Sachets 1

Starbucks

10
Kenco 2-in-1 Instant Smooth White Coffee Sachets 1

Kenco

Name

Fairtrade Machu Picchu Instant Coffee

Azera Americano Instant Coffee

Fairtrade Super Special Organic Arabica Coffee

Pure Gold Instant Coffee

Gold Unsweetened Cappuccino Sachets

Millicano Americano Decaff Instant Coffee

Barista Grade Instant Coffee

Cap Colombia Arabica Instant Coffee

Caramel Latte Premium Instant Sachets

2-in-1 Instant Smooth White Coffee Sachets

Features

The Ultimate Instant Coffee

Instant Americano for Everyday Enjoyment

Super Special Organic Deliciousness

A Balanced Medium Roast for Every Palate

A Low-Fat, Low-Sugar and Velvety Smooth Cappuccino

Barista-Style Coffee, Minus the Caffeine

Ethically Sourced Instant From a British Family Company

A Family Favourite Goes Gourmet

A Sweet Option for Starbucks Addicts

Coffee Sticks for the Working Week

Price£9.85£4.00£4.00£5.00£13.86£2.49£5.99£25.65£2.69£1.00
Arabica/Robusta100% arabicaArabica and robusta blend100% arabica100% arabica 100% arabica100% arabica
Freeze-DriedYesYesYesYesNoYesYesYesNoNo
RoastMediumMediumMediumMediumMediumMediumMediumLightMediumMedium
Ground CoffeeNoYes, 5%NoNoYesYes, 15%NoNoYes, 0.1%No
Type of CoffeeBlackBlackBlackBlackCappuccino (unsweetened)Black coffee (decaffeinated)BlackBlackCaramel latteWhite coffee
PackagingGlass jarTinGlass jarGlass jarSachetTinTinTinSachetSachet
Link

More Products for Coffee Lovers

More Products for Coffee Lovers

While instant coffee is great for busy mornings, short work breaks or backpacking trips, if you are a fan of high-quality coffee you may also be on the hunt for delicious coffee beans or ground coffee. Take a look at some of our other recommendations! 

Summary

By considering your flavour preferences alongside your portability needs, you should now be able to confidently pick the best instant coffee for your morning (or afternoon, or nightly) fix. Hopefully, we have shown you that instants can be just as satisfying and flavoursome as any fresh variety, and a lot easier to brew up, too!

Author: Natasha Dziubajlo

Read Up on All Things Coffee From a Top Barista and Blogger

Just starting your journey into the coffee world? Or are you a fully-fledged enthusiast always on the hunt for the best equipment? Either way, you'll want to head over to top barista, blogger and all-round coffee expert Celeste's top picks, where you'll find everything from this gorgeous reusable cup to machines and monthly subscriptions.

Specialist's
mybest

CAFE CONCETTOReusable Coffee Cup

£24.29

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