Taste Testing Different Instant Coffees in the Woods

Birds chirping, sun shimmering through the tent, while wrapped up cozy in a sleeping bag is my favorite way to wake up. Followed quickly by the taste and smell of a warm cup of coffee outside. Sometimes though I don’t always feel like bringing out the whole percolator or cleaning up the mess from the french press, or while backpacking when I can’t lug all that equipment with me, instant coffee can be a great alternative! Here I’ll do the hard work so you don’t have to, read on to hear more about me and my dad taste testing different instant coffees!

tasting instant coffees in the woods. A campfire with the wood in a shape of a teepee. In the background a dense woods.


My dad helped me in taste testing different instant coffees, five coffees in total, and you can watch us here on Youtube to get our initial reactions! Overall we pretty much loved almost all of them, four out of the five are great for backpacking and car camping alike. The last one is really only practical for car camping. 

Starting with… 

Alpine Start Instant Coffee


A classic that has been around. This is my typical go to coffee while backpacking. It’s easy to find at REI or off of Amazon. It runs you about a $1 a packet (which is an entire cup of coffee). It’s smooth, easy to drink. I do add sugar to my coffee but I find one or two packets is all I need for this coffee. If you’re looking for a reliable coffee to have on hand whenever you might run away for a weekend this is a must!


Ferris Instant Coffee 


A unique dark roast blend from a local company. I found this brand at Outside Coffee Company, a Grand Rapids, Michigan based coffee company that is one of my favorites! This coffee is by far the most expensive, at $3 a cup it’s hard for me to justify the purchase sometimes. I would recommend it to those who enjoy a bold, dark flavor. I wouldn’t recommend it to those, who like me, prefer a light to medium roast coffee. 


Starbucks Pike Place Instant Coffee


Another classic, how can you ever go wrong with Starbucks?! This is surprisingly a more affordable option, at under $1 a packet. Pike Place is a medium roast, another great staple to keep in your stash. This can also be found incredibly easily at almost every major grocery/supercenter as well as online. 


Trader Joe’s Instant Coffee

This is by far the most affordable option out there, at only $1.99 for 10 packets! This instant coffee comes “all dressed up with cream and sugar” which is a perfect option for someone like me who, needs to put sugar in my coffee and enjoys when I can have creamer. This one was by far our favorite and we continued to drink it the rest of our weekend camping. 


Jot Instant Coffee


This is a liquid concentrate coffee. They have three blends, one dark roast and two medium/medium-light. We tried a medium blend that was absolutely delicious. This option is unfortunately only feasible for car camping as the bottle does need to be refrigerated after opening. However, it is a very small and sturdy, thick glass bottle that should easily fit in any cooler. This is also a great coffee to have iced and incredibly easy to make as the water doesn’t need to be warm at all to dissolve since this is a liquid concentrate. Simply add it to 8-10oz of water/milk/whatever!

Our overall rankings of the instant coffees were:

First place, gold medal winner goes to:

Trader Joe’s

Followed by the classic

Alpine Start in silver

Which was in a close battle with third place

Jot Instant Coffee

Honorable mention goes to

Starbucks Pike Place 

And in last place

Ferris Coffee Company

(we’re just not dark roast coffee drinkers)

Let me know what your favorite instant coffees are and if you disagree or agree with our rankings! Don’t forget to check my dad and I out taste testing on youtube! Follow me on Instagram for more adventures!