You’re looking for a cup of joe that’s quick, easy and decaf. What do you grab? The best option is instant decaf coffee. Of course, this wouldn’t be everyone’s first choice. But that’s what sets you apart. You’re daring and willing to try something not many people are looking for.
Instant coffee has a long history, and still has a place among many coffee consumers today. For those looking for the best cup of instant decaf coffee, you’ve landed in the right place. Our team has taste-tested a bunch of instant decaf coffees and narrowed down our top seven picks, in order to save you money and find what best suits your needs.
We’ve also included a buyer’s guide to give you an idea of what to look for when choosing an instant decaf coffee. If you don’t find an instant decaf coffee from our narrowed-down list, our buyer’s guide can lead you in the direction of finding the one for you.
|NesCafé Taster’s Choice Decaf House Blend(Best Overall)||4.7/5|
|Starbucks VIA Instant Italian Roast(Best Value)||4.5/5|
|Folger’s Classic Decaf Instant Coffee||4.4/5|
|Café Altura Organic Decaf Instant Coffee(Best Organic)||4.2/5|
|JOE Coffee Company Nightcap House||4.1/5|
The NesCafé Taster’s Choice Decaf House Blend is our top pick because of its bold flavor. Usually decaf instant coffees are lacking in boldness. The decaf process is liable to strip the coffee of its flavor. When the process of freshly grinding the coffee beans before extraction is taken away, you’re missing out on two of the main flavor boosters of coffee.
However, with the NesCafé Taster’s Choice Decaf House Blend, the lack of freshness is masked. It produces a full-bodied mouthfeel along with a bright aftertaste. It’s light to medium roasted, so the taste is more fruity than savory. This decaf blend also conveniently comes in single-serve to-go packets. Overall, it’s a very balanced coffee. The only negative we’ve found is that it’s decaf, but that’s most likely not a problem for you.
The Starbucks VIA Instant Italian Roast is the complete opposite of our top pick when it comes to flavor and roast profile. This instant coffee is bold, as well. However, its flavor and roast profile are on the darker end of the spectrum. For all the dark roast enthusiasts, this one’s for you. The Italian Roast has a strong aroma that contributes to its bold taste. It’s made with 100% Arabica beans, so this instant coffee stands up well to cream and sugar.
Starbucks also offers this roast as whole bean coffee, and it’s available in-store. We’re happy to say that the taste is fairly the same. It’s hard to tell the instant coffee from the freshly brewed one. For that reason, the Starbucks VIA Instant Italian Roast is our number two pick. The only things we didn’t like about this one are the slight astringent mouthfeel and the price.
Folger’s Classic Decaf Instant Coffee is just that: a classic blend that many are familiar with. It has a bold, nutty flavor like its caffeinated counterpart. It’s a dark roast, so it has that signature smokiness characteristic of dark profiles. This instant decaf would not upset those looking for bold, savory flavors in their cup. It has a low acidity level, as well.
Folger’s Classic Decaf also conveniently comes in single-serve packets. On those mornings when even making instant coffee takes too much time, you can easily just grab a serving to go. This coffee also stands up to cream and sugar well. The reason why it’s number three on our list is the dull mouthfeel it leaves.
For those wanting an organic choice for instant decaf coffee, Café Altura Organic Decaf Instant is our top choice. This decaf blend is comprised of coffees from Indonesia, South America, and Central America. It has a balanced, neutral feel to it. It’s light on the palate, but crisp. This is another delicious decaf that tastes virtually the same as its caffeinated counterpart.
We strongly recommend this coffee for those looking for an organic coffee and who don’t mind a light-tasting coffee. We feel that just because a coffee tastes light doesn’t mean it’s not a great cup of coffee. Balance is key, and the Café Altura Organic Decaf Instant Coffee has exactly that.
JOE Coffee Company is the newest coffee roaster on our list of instant decaf coffees. What’s exciting about the Nightcap House Decaf is that it’s the only coffee on our list that uses the Swiss Water process many quality third wave coffee roasters use. The one word that best describes this brew is delicate. This coffee is a lightly roasted single origin from El Limoncello, Nicaragua. We recommend it for those who enjoy a soft, light roasted coffee that includes all the nuances of the terroir. It has a light caramel aroma with a bright, fruity taste. It also features a balanced mouthfeel.
It’s evident that the coffee roaster made this coffee meticulously. The only downfall about this specialty instant coffee is the price. There are quality whole bean coffees that cost less than this brew. Therefore, we only strongly suggest this for those who really appreciate the nuanced tastes of single origin coffee.
ColCafe Instant Decaf Coffee is a favorite instant decaf coffee in Latin America, most likely because the beans are 100% Colombian. That’s what makes this brew stand out from the rest. It has that bold taste that is characteristic of Colombian coffees. Unfortunately, however, it is easy to tell that this is an instant decaf coffee. We like it, but it is lacking in quality.
What we like about it is that it’s well balanced, and has those dark smoky, roasty notes as well as the cocoa notes from the beans. It’s a bold cup of coffee that stands up well to cream and sugar. We suggest this coffee for those who really enjoy Colombian beans. If you can get past the poor quality and the astringent mouthfeel, ColCafe Instant Decaf will not disappoint.
Sanka Coffee was one of the first decaf instant coffees to hit the market. It grew in popularity over the years, and it’s still one of the most consumed (if not the most consumed) decaf instant coffees. Even though it’s popular, it sits at the bottom of our list because of its quality and flavor. Our team had an overall consensus that Sanka Coffee just had too much going on in the flavor department. It doesn’t make for a balanced cup of coffee at all.
We recommend this for those who prefer coffee with cream and sugar. Its flavor does stand up to those add-ons well, but that’s about all it can do. We did notice, though, that it has a full-bodied mouthfeel, which is probably why it gained in popularity. At one time it wasn’t characteristic of a decaf instant coffee to have a bold mouthfeel, but Sanka Coffee changed that, and it’s one of the reasons we appreciate it.
A lot of people who say that instant decaf coffee tastes bad haven’t even tried it. They figure that since instant coffee lacks freshness, and decaf coffee lacks flavor, instant decaf coffee is doubly bad. Our top instant decaf pick, NesCafé Taster’s Choice Decaf House Blend, alone debunks that myth. Instant decaf coffee is heavily consumed around the world, and roasters are constantly improving on flavors.
It’s wise to taste the coffees for yourself, but that’s not really the most economical way to go about it. With our top picks list, we’ve taken some of the guesswork out of it for you. However, we’re aware that our choices aren’t suited for everyone. In this next section, we’ll cover some criteria to keep in mind when choosing a decaf instant coffee.
Flavor is one of the criteria you’ll have no idea of unless you’ve tried the coffee. Unfortunately, you can’t tell a coffee’s flavor just by looking at it (unless the coffee has flavor descriptions included on the packaging). But how can you know? There are a few buzzwords that hint at what coffee can taste like. If that fails to help, you can always look at consumer reviews.
The words to look out for when determining flavor mainly have to do with the roast profile and origin(s) of the instant coffee. Dark roast is bold, smoky, and more on the bitter side. Medium and light roasts have balanced, subtle flavors that depend more on terroir.
Mouthfeel is another characteristic you can’t tell just looking at the packaging. It’s also talked about less in consumer reviews. But if you happen to stumble upon some information about mouthfeel, you generally want to take interest in instant coffees with full or round mouthfeels. Mouthfeel basically describes the coffee’s “texture.” If you taste an instant coffee that is dull or flat, you’re describing its mouthfeel. Luckily, a few choices on our list have a full-bodied mouthfeel. If this is of huge interest to you, check out Folger’s Classic Decaf Instant Coffee or NesCafé Taster’s Choice Decaf House Blend.
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Serving options pertain to the availability of single-serve packets. If you catch yourself wanting decaf coffee on the go, single-serve packets are your best bet. However, this may not be a priority for some decaf drinkers, because a lot of decaf coffee gets consumed in the evening as a means of “winding down.”
This category isn’t usually common in the world of instant decaf coffee, but with the third wave upon us, it’s only fair to mention single-origin coffee. Blends are more prevalent in instant decaf choices. They’re what most of the coffees on our top picks list are made up of. Blends tend to have a balanced flavor that lends a lot of itself to roast, particularly when it comes to instant coffees.
Single-origin coffee is made from coffee beans that came from one farm only. Single-origin coffees are usually lightly roasted and prized for their unique flavor notes, depending on the terroir where the coffee trees were grown. JOE Coffee Company Nightcap House Decaf is a great example of a light roasted single origin instant decaf coffee.
The instant decaf coffee world can be daunting, so by narrowing down our top choices, you’ll be able to make a better-informed decision. Of course, we highly suggest our top pick, the NesCafé Taster’s Choice Decaf House Blend. It’s an amazing instant coffee that you may think is better than some regular coffees. For those looking for a more roasty, bolder instant decaf, the Starbucks VIA Instant Italian Roast is just for you.
We hope that you’re willing to give these instant decaf coffees a try. And if these don’t fit your palate, hopefully, you’ve gained some insight on how to pick the best instant decaf coffee for your specific needs.
Note: we also recently published a post on how manufacturers actually decaffeinate coffee beans
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