Backpacking can present a real dilemma for habitual coffee drinkers. Because packing a bunch of extra gear for brewing coffee isn’t a smart decision. This is why instant coffee packets can save you a headache. When you’re outdoors camping and traveling, it doesn’t matter if you’re a coffee snob or not – if you crave coffee, you need it anyways.
Instant coffee packets are easy – just pour in your warm/cold water, stir, and enjoy! The good news is, there’s been a lot of advancements in “instant coffee tech” over the years. So how much they’ve improved? Let’s find out in our best instant coffee for backpacking article.
What Is An Instant Coffee?
Instant Coffee is made from real coffee. First, the whole beans get roasted, then ground and brewed. After that, all the water is removed from the brewed product. Leaving behind the dehydrated crystals of the coffee. That’s why we pour it into warm water to dissolve! This dehydration adds to its shelf-life.
Instant coffee has other aliases too, such as coffee powder, soluble coffee, and crystal coffee. By large, instant coffee is made with Robusta coffee beans instead of the more expensive Arabica Beans. Instant coffee is made by the following 2 methods.
Spray-Dry: Coffee or concentrated coffee is sprayed from a high tower into a large hot-air chamber. As the droplets fall, the water evaporates, and dry crystals of coffee fall to the bottom.
Freeze-Dry: The coffee or its concentration (by freeze concentration) rapidly gets frozen to -40° Celsius. Then it’s placed inside a drying chamber. A vacuum is created inside the chamber which is followed by a heating session.
Our 10 Picks on the best instant coffee for Backpacking
Before diving into the details, let’s have a quick look at the list of instant coffees we are gonna review.
Alpine Start Premium Instant Coffee Packets
A packet, full of 100% high elevation grown Colombian Arabica coffee powder holding 120.9 mg caffeine content. It’s a medium roasted blend. It has some multiple special ingredient varieties too! Flavors like Original, Original plus Creamer latte, and Dirty chai latte are all there to cater to your appetite.
Alpine Start Premium doesn’t need to lug around a coffee contraption and it doesn’t make a mess. Just throw a couple of sticks in your backpack and you’re ready for your outdoor experience! Alpine Start blend dissolves instantly in not only cold water but also dissolves into other liquids, like almond milk or half and a half! This premium-quality coffee powder can also be used for your delicious baking recipes and coffee cocktails! This is by far the best instant coffee for travel in our humble opinion.
- Coffee tastes smooth, rich, and not bitter
- It dissolves quickly and easily, both in hot and cold water evenly
- Alpine Start instant coffee is one of the most popular and convenient coffee choices right now
- Not the most affordable instant coffee out there
- Falls closer to a darker roast than to the perfect medium roast
- ORIGINAL BLEND MEDIUM ROAST COFFEE - Our delicious instant coffee is made with 100% Colombian Arabica coffee. Drink black or partner with your favorite creamer and enjoy our medium roast coffee anytime, anywhere.
- FULL-BODIED MEDIUM ROAST ARABICA COFFEE - Our instant coffee comes in single packets that are lightweight, portable, and convenient for any adventure you may have today.
- MEDIUM ROAST COFFEE ANY TIME OF DAY - Our arabica coffee can be served hot or cold. Dissolve in 8 ounces of water, add milk or your favorite non-dairy replacement and enjoy a delicious medium roast coffee.
- INSTANT COFFEE FOR ALL DIETS - Made with arabica coffee, our instant coffee is brewed with 100% high altitude Colombian Arabica medium roast that fits vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free, paleo, and non-GMO lifestyles.
- GET AN ALPINE START - Waking up in the morning suspended 1,000 feet up on a rock wall is just a normal day at the office for Matt Segal, a professional rock climber and founder of Alpine Start. Matt developed these instant, delicious drinks to take with him on his worldwide climbs. Whether at work, play, or on an extreme adventure, boost your energy with an Alpine Start.
Mount Hagen Organic Instant Regular Coffee
Mount Hagen is one the trusted and most trusted quality instant coffee brand. Their organic brand has medium roast beans and is made from 100% highland Arabica coffee beans. That’s why Mount Hagen instant coffee packs offer smooth, rich, and deep-tasting coffee. This single-origin coffee blend is gently processed to yield the velvety complexity, mildness, and sophisticated flavor only unique to Papua New Guinea. Mount Hagen is the first certified organic freeze-dried instant coffee in the world. The freeze-drying coffee process does not involve any form of preservatives or additives. Quality alone, Mount Hagen is considered by many as the best instant coffee for travel.
- Very balanced and decent body
- It’s dark enough to not be too acidic
- It’s light enough to hold all the taste notes
- Strikes an effective balance between being affordable and maintaining the quality of the coffee
- It lacks the crispness and a tad bit of robustness
- INSTANT COFFEE THAT DOESN’T TASTE LIKE IT: When you need that coffee-flavored boost and you need it quickly, Mount Hagen instant coffee singles are the answer. Our advanced freeze-drying process retains the deep coffee flavors and aromas of the fresh Arabica beans, resulting in a wonderfully smooth coffee with a rich, full-bodied taste- even if you’re miles from the nearest coffee store! Plus, our instant coffee dissolves beautifully in cold water or milk for instant iced coffee.
- CONVENIENT SINGLE-SERVE STICKS: Our pocket coffee packets mean you can take good coffee wherever you go. Pop our instant coffee packets into your backpack, briefcase and office desk to ensure you can get your coffee fix when you need it. Our individual coffee packets are also perfect for including in hospitality or pamper packs and for traveling. Convenient and easy, these single-serve instant coffee pouches save you from lugging bulky equipment, and better yet- you get to skip on cleanup too!
- AWARD-WINNING: Mount Hagen consistently tops lists of best instant organic coffees, becoming many a connoisseur's favorite joe-on-the-go. (Google it, and you’ll see!) Whether you’re on the go, at the office, or on a mountaintop, don’t settle for any less than the best. These single-serve sticks are packed with the same outstanding coffee as our award-winning jars- made from 100% USDA Organic, Fairtrade Arabica beans and also gluten-free and certified OU Kosher.
- MASTERS OF OUR CRAFT: A sip of our balanced, smooth instant coffee is a taste of its history in the lush mountains around Mount Hagen, Papua New Guinea. Since 1986, we’ve been perfecting our brew so you can enjoy its naturally mild taste with low acidity and no bitterness, whenever you want and wherever you are.
- MOUNT HAGEN: The trailblazer of organic Fair Trade coffee production, we pride ourselves on coffee that not only tastes good but DOES good too. Every granule of our organic Fair Trade coffee is planted, cultivated, harvested, processed and packaged by workers being paid fairly and respectably; families thriving on the infrastructure we provide; and communities gaining the power of education, health and hope. Scroll up, click buy now and support their future.
Starbucks VIA Pike Place Instant Coffee
Starbucks has also taken over instant coffee lovers with flying colors. And at the forefront of it is the Starbucks VIA instant coffee. Available in various delicious flavors like Pike Place, French, Italian roast, Sweetened Iced coffee, Caramel Iced coffee, Vanilla, Caramel, and White Chocolate Mocha Latte.
The VIA instant Pike Place comes with a medium roast level and is made with only high-quality 100% Latin American Arabica coffee beans. Resulting in well-rounded cocoa and toasted nuts taste notes balancing the smooth mouthfeel. Enjoy this great-tasting instant coffee with these single-serve, ready-to-brew super convenient packets anytime and anywhere in an instant.
VIA coffee works great with both hot and cold blends – one of the reasons that makes it a good instant coffee for backpacking. Pike Place has achieved so many accolades that it is a registered trademark of The Pike Place Market PDA, used under license.
- One of the top-selling instant coffee
- Via is a Go-To for coffee for backpack travelers
- Smooth, rich-tasting, bold, and strong with a hint of sweetness
- One of the few instant coffees that truly delivers a high-quality coffee taste in each pack
- Has faced criticism for how much packaging and trash it produces
- Your cost per cup will be doubled since it’s above the average price product
- Made only with high-quality arabica coffee beans
- Well-rounded with subtle notes of cocoa and toasted nuts balancing the smooth mouthfeel
- Just tear open a packet of Starbucks VIA Instant Pike Place Roast Coffee, add hot water, wait 10 seconds and stir. No coffee machine or grinder needed
- Create great-tasting beverages with these single-serve, ready-to-brew packets. Enjoy them anytime, anywhere in an instant
- Includes 1 box of 8 packets
Maxim Mocha Gold Mild Coffee Mix
Maxim Mocha Gold is a smooth instinct coffee blend. Each box like this comes with 20 wrapped coffee packs. Extremely convenient to take on the go. Even throw it in your backpack or purse to enjoy delicious cups of coffee anytime. Maxim, regarded as one of the best instant coffee for camping brands in Korea, gets its coffee from Dongsuh Company Inc. in Seoul.
Since 1975, Dongsuh has been a standard-bearer in the Korean food market. The Mocha Gold flavor mix is extremely smooth and has a perfect mix of delicious cream, coffee, and sugar in each packet. Meaning you can control the sugar flow for each cup of coffee – a trademark feature for most Korean instant brands.
If you like the full dosage of sugar, just pour the entire packet out. The coffee tastes sweet and less bitter. With less sugar, you can have a more bitter-tasting coffee. The flavor is generally mild, so if you prefer a stronger flavor, go with the Maxim original mix. You can apply hot or cold according to your preference.
Each serving holds 50 calories, 9 grams of carbs, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 6 grams of total sugars 1.5 grams of total fat, 10 milligrams of sodium, and no protein in each serving. It’s very easy to store and has a shelf life of over 1 year.
- Each pack is simply delicious
- Extremely convenient and cost-effective
- Easy to make at home, work, or on the go
- Popular regular instant coffee and one of the best choices among first-time instant coffee drinkers
- Mocha taste can be found lacking
- Not so much of a cost-efficient product
Trader Joes Instant Coffee
Trader Joe’s has put out some interesting products when it comes to outdoor coffee drinkers. Their packaged foods and beverages are creative, tasty, trendy, and always priced at a generous value.
So, Trader Joes Instant Coffee is no different. Since this is an instant coffee with cream and sugar, this will not pack that much of an extreme coffee punch. This is something closer to a latte than a black coffee. Sweetness and creaminess, and the coffee flavor – notes that will hit you once sipped (in that order). If you want to compare the sweetness it’s about 75% as sweet as a tall vanilla latte from Starbucks.
The packaging is a plastic/foil-made hybrid and if you toss it in the fire, it will have no problem burning up without a trace, if you’re okay with burning plastic.
This instant coffee should be your perfect morning cup of coffee since it comes with cream and sugar, all in convenient packs ready to go. It is also perfect for any post-dinner drink by the fire to warm up your cozy fall and winter evenings. If you like to be innovative with it, we recommend adding peppermint schnapps to spike it with for your perfect evening drink by the campfire.
- This all-in-one package is a great value instant coffee that comes with creamer
- Trader Joe’s Instant Coffee Packets is a decent emergency coffee for the outdoors
- Trader Joe’s flavored coffee acts as a bridge for those who enjoy their coffee with sugar and cream
- It’s not a strong brew coffee
- This product is not recommended to black coffee-exclusive drinkers
Cafe Bustelo Single Serve Instant Espresso Coffee
Café Bustelo was founded in New York by a young Spanish immigrant Gregorio Bustelo a century ago. His vision was to introduce the unique Latin American coffee profile to East Harlem and beyond. Since then, Cafe Bustelo has become an image of Latin American dark-roasted coffee culture. Its espresso-flavored instant sticks pack a rich, full-bodied flavor that will stand testimony to its Latin American roots.
Thus Café Bustelo has been also a popular choice with its instant coffee. This line is available in single-serving packs in small containers and in larger freeze-dried canisters. Just like the ground coffee products, Bustelo’s instant lineup also includes the decaf version. The instant range also offers Café con Leche and Café con Chocolate flavors.
- Easily fits in pockets or little purses
- Strong tasting, widely popular around the country, and easily available
- This instant lineup has less of a bitter aftertaste compared to Bustelo’s original line
- Not the best quality packaging
- Not as good as the Starbucks Instant Via
- Contains 4 boxes of 6 single-serve packets of Café Bustelo Espresso-Style Dark Roast Instant Coffee (24 count total)
- Keep your day moving with this dark roast instant coffee blend that prepares instantly with hot water or milk and a stir
- Dark roast espresso-style coffee features a full-bodied, bold yet nuanced flavor
- Crafted with passion to deliver consistent flavor in an easy-to-use single serve packets
- Bold sabor latino that stands out, with or without cream or sugar
Nescafé Taster’s Choice Instant Coffee
Nescafé Taster’s Choice comes with 3 different blends – decaf, French, and the House Blend. The taster’s choice offers lightly medium-roasted instant coffee to deliver smooth, inviting flavor in each cup. Crafted with 100% Arabica and Robusta beans which are responsibly sourced and carefully roasted. It’s easy to make too – simply pour from the packet, add water, stir, and finally, enjoy whenever and wherever you like. Each packet makes one full cup of instant coffee and each box will allow you to make 72 premium cups of coffee. One of the unsung names in the best coffee for backpacking list.
- One of the best cost-effective choices
- Smooth, well-balanced flavor with a pure coffee taste
- One box can serve up to two months with 72 cups of coffee
- Among the 3 blends, only the House Blend seems to hit all the promised taste notes
- PREMIUM COFFEE—Savor smooth, well-balanced flavor in an instant with the pure coffee taste of NESCAFÉ Taster's Choice House Blend Light Medium Roast Instant Coffee
- EXCEPTIONAL TASTE—Elevate the taste of the coffee in your cup in an instant with this full-bodied, light-roasted coffee that's full of flavor
- PURE QUALITY—Crafted with respectfully grown, high-quality coffee beans from around the world, NESCAFÉ is proud to be the world’s best-selling coffee brand
- EASY TO PREPARE—It's easy to make a perfect cup of coffee—simply pour one packet, add hot water, stir and enjoy whenever and wherever you want
- MAKES 72 CUPS—Each packet makes one cup of real, premium instant coffee. That's 12 boxes and up to 72 cups
Waka Quality Instant Coffee
Waka’s medium roasted Arabica beans brought from Colombia go under the freeze-dried process to preserve the aroma and original flavor of these beans. The 100% Arabica beans give the Waka instant coffee a richer and more complex flavor. Clearly one of the best instant coffee for camping brands in North America. The medium roast brings balanced, smoothness with notes of citrus.
It tastes like a fresh brew but fast dissolved like a true instant coffee. Waka packets are convenient when you’re on a hike, camping, or at your workplace as it easily dissolves right into your drink and leaves no waste. Waka instant coffee also makes perfect hot or iced coffee. Also can be used for delicious coffee cake recipes. Does not come with any additives or sweeteners, thus making it easily customizable.
- Rated best instant coffee brand by the critics
- Outer box has a compact design as well as recyclable
- One of the superior quality coffees guarantees a pleasantly tasty and smooth taste
- Slight hint of sour notes
- One of the most expensive instant coffee on the market
- QUALITY INSTANT COFFEE: Medium roast premium instant coffee, made with 100% Arabica coffee beans from Colombia. $1.35 - $1.5 Per Serving.
- ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY: Real coffee beans without additives that were perfectly freeze dried to preserve the aroma and flavor.
- DELICIOUS FLAVOR: Well balanced, smooth bodied with notes of citrus. Enjoy at home, office or on-the-go.
- ON YOUR TERMS: Make one cup at a time anytime and anywhere. Just add water, stir and enjoy. Each box includes 8 - 0.1 oz single-serve packets to make 8-10 fl oz cups of coffee.
- SUSTAINABLY PACKED IN THE U.S.: This box and the packets within are made with post-consumer recycled content. Our recyclable outer box is made with certified sustainably sourced paper with a compact design for a smaller carbon footprint. While we transition to our new branding and packaging, design of the product received may vary.
Folgers Classic Roast Instant Coffee Crystals
Folgers Coffee is the oldest instant coffee-making brand in the USA. This classic roast is made with medium-roasted coffee beans that are unbeatable eye-opening aromas. With expertise accumulated since 1850, the Folgers instant coffee process is a meticulous double-drying process. Beans are chosen for the optimal flavor for a deeper, more even taste. These single-serving classic roast instant coffee crystals are amazing on your cup.
- Folgers classic roast has such a rich coffee flavor
- This classic roast is also well for making cold brews
- Goes well with almond milk and various sweeteners
- Has a bit burnt aftertaste
- Per pack has a bit small quantity
- Mountain Grown beans, roasted to perfection
- Fresh, bold satisfying coffee
- On the go packets
- Contains 84 Classic Roast Single Serve Packets
Maxpresso 3-in-1 Korean Instant Coffee Blend
Our best instant coffee for camping list had to enlist Maxpresso. This blend by Maxpresso is 100% freeze-dried at -40 C to make into instant granules. This freeze-dried coffee conserves and provides the best aroma and flavor. Maxpresso is made with an espresso concept requiring only 2.5oz (75ml) of hot water. It also has a coconut flavor too! They have Coconut flavored coffee sticks too!
Its coconut coffee creamer will provide a rich and perfectly sweetened creamy coffee. Each individual packet has a layered portion inside. So the sugar at the bottom layer can be poured according to your preference. Maxpresso can be regarded as ideal for backpacking as it’s superbly travel-friendly and perfect for camping, office, and traveling. Packaged well to maximize your convenience with a long-lasting aroma and high-quality coffee that dissolves evenly in water.
- Travel-friendly packaging
- Available in non-dairy flavor (coconut)
- You can control sugar levels from each packet
- The flavor could be stronger
- This product can expose you to chemicals like Acrylamide
- 100% Freeze Dried Coffee: This instant coffee extracts is frozen to about -40 C and made into granules, which are frozen then dried at low temperature. As the quality is very well protected inside of the coffee crystals when preserved in low temperatures, we choose to use 100% freeze dried coffee in order to conserve and provide the best aroma and flavor.
- How is Maxpresso different from other instant coffees? Maxpresso is made with an Espresso concept, only requiring 2.5oz (75ml) of hot water unlike other instant coffee sticks.
- Adjustable & Convenient: Each mix is divided in the individual packet- adjust the amount of sugar in your coffee mix according to your preference. Maxpresso is travel-friendly and perfect for the office, camping, and traveling.
- This coconut oil non-dairy coffee creamer will provide you with a rich and creamy coffee that is perfectly sweetened.
- ISO Certified: Maxpresso is produced in a ISO 22000 certified facility with a food safety management system in place.
Buying Tips For Instant Coffee For Backpacking
The profile includes the texture, taste, and aroma. A perfect cup of instant coffee should check all of these boxes. The factors can also vary from our factors, so again, taste around to see what works for you best.
We’ve noticed that the quality of coffee became consistently solid once the price averaged about $1.00 per packet. The quality gets even better at about $2.00 per pack. While the very high-end coffees were interesting, we’re not saying that they’re absolutely worth it. Trying and find your range is all the best you can do.
Cream And Sweetener
Regardless of good plain instant coffees, you may still like to have them with cream and sugar. The wonderful thing is that most of the quality instant coffee brands have incorporated such sweeteners and creamers options. A lot of them are also non-dairy! Non-dairy options mostly are coconut-based. Alpine and Vietnamese brands do make really good coconut-based coffee sticks. For die-hard dairy fans, we recommend Trader Joe’s instant coffee.
Ease Of Mixing
Instant coffee may look like very finely ground beans, but they are actually already-brewed coffee. All the good quality instant coffees carry the “ease of mixing” factor. Some even allow cold/room temperature water for mixing. After all, it’s a convenient first product.
All these instant coffees are made so that the users can carry these around with any sort of problem. And after usage, the packages will be easily recyclable. Check how eco-friendly, and easy-to-use the packing of your desired instant coffee packs are. Paper packaging may not be adequate enough to protect your instant coffee. Decide what’s best for you and for your trips.
Instant Coffee Brands
The first version of instant coffee dates back to 1771. Then, in the late 19th century, a firm in Glasgow invented Camp Coffee, which was a liquid “essence”. It contained water, sugar, coffee, and chicory. Camp Coffee hit the retail market in Great Britain around the mid-to-late 1800s.
In the United States, the earliest recorded instant coffee was found during the Civil War. But around the mid-1800s in San Francisco, James Folger and his sons began selling the first canned ground beans that didn’t require roasting and grinding at home. Now, Folger is one of the world-renowned coffee companies.
Jump back to the present, in the 21st century, coffee and instant coffee production is a way bigger industry than you can ever imagine. Lots of traditional and new-wave progressive coffee manufacturers competing in the coffee market.
If you’re thinking about which instant coffee brands you should look out for when shopping, we have some names for you to help you build up the foundation. Of course, don’t take our words for granted, always do your own research to come to your preferred conclusion.
Big and established brands like Nescafé, Starbucks, Mount Hagen, Café Bustelo, Douwe Egberts, and Folgers are the most widely available in the market. They also offer varying flavors and strengths for their instant coffee.
If you’re interested in foreign brands then you can check out brands like UCC, AGF, Maxim, Trung Nguyen, Ediya, KANU, Medaglia D’Oro, Lavazza, and Tchibo. For the new fair-trade ethical abiding coffee brands check out Wandering Bear, Alpine, and Cafedirect.
Can You Use Instant Coffee In A French Press?
Technically, the answer is yes. However, both seasoned drinkers and manufacturers of French press machines won’t recommend applying instant coffee. French press coffee works with coarse grind beans that need 5 minutes of steeping. But instant coffee is made to get dissolved as soon as it touches hot or cold water.
Is Aeropress Good For Backpacking?
Yes, you can. Because it’s lightweight, it doesn’t take up too much room, it’s durable. All of these qualities make it a perfect camping utility.
Can You Mix Instant Coffee With Ground Coffee?
Yes, you can mix different coffee grounds and make a new blend. And instant coffee is also a type of coffee ground.
Is Instant Coffee Good For Camping?
Yes, it is. Because it’s super easy to carry. Some instant coffee doesn’t even need hot water to dissolve.
How Do You Make Instant Coffee In Camping?
Just pour into the warm water inside of your cup/travel mug. Stir to let it dissolve uniformly. Now simply drink!!
If you have a small kitchen, live in a small space, or do not own a coffee maker, instant coffee will be your salvation. Our best instant coffee for backpacking article came from crucial valid reasons. With instant coffee packs, you’ll need zero special equipment. Then, it’s great for travelers.
When on the move out in the wilderness, you want to minimize your weight and equipment. With instant sticks, you’re one mug and some water away from making coffee. It’s now more convenient as some instant coffees are also soluble in cold water. Also, instant coffee packs are great for cooking, baking, whipped cream topping, and baked toppings. The great thing about instant coffee is that you can also control your caffeine content since each pack contains a specific amount of caffeine and sugar.
Finally, with instant sticks, you won’t make any extra coffee and thus eliminating the wastage factor.
Enjoy Your Coffee!