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Best Instant Coffee for Backpacking

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Best Instant Coffee for Backpacking

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This is a review of the Best Instant Coffee for Backpacking.

 Taking coffee on your backpacking trip can give you that all important pick-me-up that can help you wake up and power through the day. Some people like to take a Backpacking Coffee Maker but there are different ways to enjoy it, which we’ll be covering a little later, but instant coffee is the most common coffee to take backpacking.

Choosing instant backpacking coffee can be tricky, which is why I’ve reviewed all the best ones on the market and put together a handy buying guide that will walk you through some of the key things to think about before you buy.

If you need instant coffee to get you started in the morning on your next backpacking trip, then keep reading.

Best Instant Coffee for Backpacking 2022

The Best Instant Coffee for Backpacking in 2022 are:


Best Instant Coffee for Backpacking – Overall

Starbucks VIA Instant Coffee

Pros:

> Coffee is 100% ethically sourced

> Available in handy individual packets

> Available in boxes of up to 84 count

> Tastes great considering it is instant coffee

Cons:
> I cannot comment on the taste of all the flavors, because I didn’t bother with the decaf one!

> Can be a little expensive

Did you know that you can enjoy some of your favorite Starbucks coffees as an instant coffee that you can take backpacking?

What’s more, it’s available in a choice of different flavors, including medium roast Columbia, dark roast Italian, dark roast French Roast, medium roast Pike Place, and medium roast Veranda, and even Decaf Italian.

I have tried most of the flavors and like the Columbia and Pike Place. But I also really enjoyed the French dark roast, really smoky and powerful.

The coffee is 100% ethically sourced and although it is rather expensive, it tastes great. 

Whilst it’s more commonly sold in boxes of 8 packs, it’s also possible to buy packs of 50 or 84 count, which is great if you’re going for a particularly long trip, or if you want to buy enough for several trips.

Overall, it is an excellent coffee for backpacking that can be added to hot or cold water. In fact, I loved adding it to cold water in the afternoon when backpacking for that pick me up that gave me energy to get through the afternoon. Best suited to coffee lovers who demand a good coffee when backpacking and hiking.

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Alpine Start, Premium Instant Coffee Packets

Pros:
> Makes a full-bodied medium roast

> It tastes great whether hot or cold
> Suitable for vegans & allergy sufferers

> Available in individual sachets

Cons:
> Some backpackers recommend that you double wrap the sachets and keep them in a dry zip lock bag in order to prevent moisture seeping through

Now, this instant coffee is derived from a high elevation area in Colombia, and the beans have been well roasted in order to produce a very full-bodied medium roast Arabica.

Like most instant coffe it can be enjoyed either hot or cold. Each sachet contains a generous 120.9 mg of caffeine. So you can keep track of how much you take, which is important if you want to stick under the 400 mg daily limit. But as I’m a coffee lover that rarely happens!

The Instant Coffee is non-GMO (genetically modified), it’s 100% vegan and vegetarian, it’s soy-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, and keto-friendly.

It’s available in boxes of individual sachets rather than only being available jars, which makes it perfect for backpacking coffee.

Overall, this is another really good instant coffee for hiking and backpacking.

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Mount Hagen Organic Fair Trade Instant Coffee

Pros:

> Even tastes good with cold water
> Made from 100% organic beans

> This coffee is fair trade certified

> Available in individual sachets

Cons:
> There isn’t a choice of flavors, but we think you’ll like it

Now, we just love the taste of our coffee. It comes from a single origin, namely Mount Hagen in Papua New Guinea, which is responsible for its sophisticated and unique flavor.

It’s a very smooth and velvet-like taste and texture. It’s quite mild in flavor relative to stronger coffees, which makes it a more palatable, pleasant taste for most people.

Better yet, this coffee is fair trade certified, which means that it has been audited throughout the supply chain to meet a strict set of standards, which covers not only environmental sustainability, but also ensures that all people involved in its production are fairly compensated for their work.

Although Mount Hagen instant coffee is more usually sold in jars, it’s also available to buy in boxes of individual packets, which is perfect for backpacking. Or just add as much as you need to a zip lock bag.

Each box contains 25 individual packets. But you can save more money per ounce by buying a 4-pack, which in total will contain a 100 individual packets.

Overall, this is another good instant coffee for backpacking trip.

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Nescafe Taster’s Choice House Blend Instant Coffee

Pros:
> Comes from top global brand

> It’s excellent value for money
> Mild roast with a smooth taste

> Available almost anywhere

Cons:
> The flavor is not as nice as any of the other brands in this review.

Nescafe is one of the world’s biggest brands in coffee, and with a name like “Taster’s Choice” you can bet that they’ve put a lot of thought into the taste.

While it’s made from 100% pure premium coffee beans, the flavor is not as nice as any of the others mentioned above. I’ve had hundreds of cups of coffee made with this brand, mostly because I have been unable to get hold of some of the other brands mentioned above.

On a positive note, it’s excellent value for money, significantly cheaper than many of the other coffees in our list.

Overall, this is the backpacking instant coffee you get when you need coffee rather than enjoy coffee. By that I mean you will buy this when nothing else is available.

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Other Good Instant Coffee:

Viola – Unfortunately they closed late in 2021 and their coffee is no longer available. Such a shame. Below are my thoughts on the coffee.

This is arguably one of the best instant coffees to take hiking and backpacking. t gives off notable hints of the likes of dark chocolate, oak, and mango and orange zest.

It’s better than some filter coffees I’ve tasted. If you’re something of a connoisseur when it comes to coffee, then this is the instant coffee for you.

It comes in a box of 5 packets, and is a little on the expensive side. But if you love your coffee, you’ll probably decide that this brand is worth the extra cost. But they are no longer, RIP Viola Instant Coffee.


Backpacking instant coffee
Testing Instant Coffee in a mountain hut

Buying Guide

Let’s walk you through some of the key things to think about before you buy.

Container / Storage

When taking coffee backpacking, individually packed sachets are preferred by many hikers. They are very lightweight and incredibly easy to store anywhere in your backpack. But they do create more waste and as per the Leave no trace Guidelines, you need to carry all your waste out with you.

Many hikers, myself included, like to prepack what I need into a Zip Lock Bag. It is better to use two zip lock bags as often some coffee grain get into the zip and make t difficult to close the whole way.

Also keep in mind that coffee has a very strong smell which is to be avoided in areas with bears. Be sure to use a Bear Canister to keep your food and coffee safe.

I recommend that whatever brand of instant coffee sachets you go for, that you always double wrap them and store them in a zip lock bag. 


Amount of Coffee

If there are a group of you going backpacking for a week or more, you can easily justify taking a jar of coffee packed into a zip lock bag on your trip. Whereas if you are only sleeping out one night, then just a few individual packets of coffee should be enough. 

If you go down the route of individual packets, you may find that they’re available in different counts per box. As a general rule, the larger the count, the more money you save.


Caffeine Content

Unfortunately, coffee producers are not required to state on their product packaging exactly how much caffeine is present, which makes judging the caffeine content something of a guessing game.

If one of your group members doesn’t especially like the taste of coffee, you could take caffeine tablets instead. And at least this way, you can keep better track of how much caffeine is being consumed.


Boiled Vs Cold Water

Instant coffee is traditionally brewed with hot or boiling water. You could set up a camp stove to boil your water before pouring it into a mug with some instant coffee. But that’s not the only method…

It’s also possible to make cold instant coffee, simply by adding the coffee to a bottle of cold water, and giving it a good stir or shake. Granted, it doesn’t taste the same as hot coffee, but there are those who prefer it. I’m a big fan of cold coffee during the afternoon.


Adding Extras

If you like your coffee black, and you have plenty of water with you on your trip, then you’re sorted. But that’s not always to everyone’s taste.


Coffee Creamer

We don’t recommend taking fresh milk on your backpacking trip unless you plan on taking a cooler. But, coffee creamer makes for an excellent alternative for most backpackers, whether added to hot or cold coffee.

Adding powdered milk can be all that you need for the latte. I love coffee with milk so I take powdered milk in a double bagged zip lock bag.


Water Purification Treatment for Instant Coffee

If you run out of bottled water on your trip, and have to resort to obtaining water from streams or such, then you are likely to want to use water purification tablets or even better, use a high quality Ultralight Backpacking Water Filter.

But, just to give you a heads-up, water purification treatment can affect the taste of your instant coffee, usually adding a mild iodine or chlorine aftertaste. 


Sugar / Artificial Sweetener

If you like your coffee sweet, and you were to add some sugar or artificial sweetener to your instant coffee, this can often help to disguise any unpleasant taste. If you are like me, you will never use sugar with coffee. Having said that, a very bad instant coffee may need sugar or sweetener to mask the poor taste.


Taste

The only way to really know if an instant coffee is for you is to try it and taste it yourself. I would recommend you give all the instant coffee in this review a taste and see which one you like best.


Value for Money

Fortunately, even the biggest instant coffee brands are reasonably priced, and you don’t have to worry too much about the cost. But the best quality instant coffee in this review is quite a bit more expensive than the cheap instant coffee found in supermarkets all over the world. So be prepared to spend a little more for something better.

For the particularly budget conscious among you, you can save money by buying your instant coffee in bulk.


Conclusion

I have narrowed down the list of best instant coffee for backapcking to just a couple of the best. There are more out there, some of which I have not had the chance to try, but I am confident that these ones are the best.

Another one of the Best Hiking Gear Reviews from BikeHikeSafari.


Frequently Asked Questions

Is Instant Coffee Good For Backpacking?

When you go backpacking, it’s simply not possible to take your coffee bean grinder, your coffee machine, or an aeropress. But, we can confirm that instant coffee makes for an excellent alternative.

If you buy from a good brand, not only will you get the same great taste, but it will also pack the same caffeinated punch that you’re looking for.

What Instant Coffee Is Best?

The best instant coffee is the one you most enjoy the taste of. Because if one instant coffee packs a great caffeine hit, but tastes unpleasant to you, then you will find yourself avoiding drinking it.

If you are particular about buying an instant coffee that tastes the most similar to filter coffee, then we would recommend our number one pick, the Starbucks VIA coffee. 

How Do You Make Instant Coffee Camping?

The best way to make instant coffee when camping is to boil some clean water on a camp stove, and simply pour it into a mug along with a little instant coffee (one or two teaspoons should be enough) and stir until dissolved.

Take a look at the buying guide in this review for further guidance on purifying the water and adding extras.

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About the Author:
Brad is an Australian who has completed the hiking Triple Crown after he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail and Appalachian Trail. He has hiked on every continent (except Antarctica) and has cycled from Alaska to Ecuador. He is an expert on outdoor gear currently living in Sydney, Australia.

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