Coffee In An Instant: The best freeze dried coffee 2021 has to offer

Freeze Dried Coffee

Instant coffee is often scoffed at, but in a pinch, it can be a real lifesaver.  Whether you are camping, traveling, or wake up one morning to find your coffee maker has crossed the rainbow bridge, freeze dried coffee can be a godsend.  

With modern technology, instant coffee has come a long way.  Gone are the days of a weak or burnt tasting brew.  With modern freeze drying technology, freeze dried coffee maintains its flavor integrity while still being convenient and portable.

Our Top Freeze Dried Coffee - The Short List

These are the coffees that made our short list of best freeze dried coffees.  A detailed review of them can be found below as well as reviews of a few others.

What is freeze dried coffee?

Instant coffee can be dated back to 18th century Britain, but it wasn’t until around 1910 that the concept first took off.  While early instant coffee left a lot to be desired, the modern technology of freeze drying has helped this instant beverage find its way into the mainstream market.  

Today there are two primary methods of instant coffee production: freeze drying and the cheaper process of spray drying.  

Spray drying is a process in which liquid concentrated coffee is sprayed into air heated to around 480℉.  The high temperature causes the water content to evaporate and the resulting product is small, dried coffee crystals.  Unfortunately, such a high temperature can leave coffee tasting bitter and burned.

Freeze drying, on the other hand, is a process where already brewed coffee (also known as coffee liquor), is dehydrated by freezing it at subzero temperatures. The freeze drying process involves a number of steps and is far more complicated than spray drying.

  1. First the coffee extract is frozen to reach 20℉(-6℃). At this stage it begins to take on a slushy consistency.
  2. Next, the now slushy coffee is further cooled to -50℉(-45℃). This temperature can be achieved through either slow cooling or quick cooling.  Slow cooling results in darker and larger granules while quick cooling leaves smaller and lighter granules.
  3. After the second cooling process, the sheets of frozen coffee are ground down to the desired granule size for drying.
  4. Finally, the ground particles are sent to a drying chamber where a heated vacuum vaporizes the ice, resulting in freeze dried coffee. 

It is vital that the pressure and temperature of the freeze drying process is exact, in order to retain the taste, texture, shape, and color of the resulting coffee. 

Types of freeze dried coffee

Just like your regular brewed coffee, freeze dried coffee comes in a variety of roasts and flavors.  You can find both caffeinated and decaffeinated, light, medium, or dark roasts, as well as organically grown and free trade coffees.  Freeze dried coffee can also be infused with flavors such as caramel, mocha, hazelnut, etc.  

With a wide variety of available options, you are sure to find a freeze dried coffee to suit your personal palate. 

What is the best freeze dried coffee? 

Whether you are a camper, hiker, frequent traveler, or are simply looking for convenience, selecting a freeze dried coffee can feel risky.  While it’s difficult to find an instant coffee that lives up to fresh brewed, our round-up should help you find a coffee that meets your standards.  

Our Top Picks

Buendia by Juan Valdez Classic 100% Colombian

Buendia is a great coffee for a quick afternoon coffee fix or to quickly whip up an after dinner brew.  Juan Valdez, a multinational cafe chain based in Colombia, has become a household name in the United States and is well known for producing some of the world’s best instant coffees. 

Buendia by Juan Valdez is made from the finest, hand picked, Colombian coffee beans.  The coffee is then freeze dried using a process developed by Colombian coffee growers.  Their process ensures that the coffee stays fresh and flavorful, and gives you the richest cup of coffee every single time. Buendia has a rich aroma, bold taste, medium body, and perfect balance.

Its unique consistency and texture make it one of the best freeze dried coffee options out there and perfect for making Dalgona coffee. 

The coffee itself is made from Arabica beans and comes in a 3.52 oz. jar that locks in the freshness and flavor of the coffee.  

Mount Hagen Organic

Mount Hagen has been sourcing their coffee beans from the lush mountains of Papua New Guinea since 1086 (hence the name Mount Hagen), and have been perfecting their instant coffee blend over the past three decades. The result is an organic, fair trade, and deliciously smooth freeze dried coffee. 

Known for using premium quality beans, harvested by fully organic farmers, Mount Hagen is a brand you can feel good about purchasing. As a matter of fact, it was the first instant coffee brand to be certified organic.

This freeze dried instant coffee is made from high quality arabica beans sourced from highlands and is 100% organic thanks to biodynamic farming practices that are devoid of chemical or pesticide usage. 

The glass jar ensures that the flavor remains intact, and one 3.53 oz. jar will make approximately 60 cups of coffee.  Simply stir a teaspoon of coffee grounds into hot water and you will have a great tasting cup of coffee.

Cafe Tastle Gold 

Cafe Tastle Gold is one of the more popular choices among freeze dried instant coffee lovers and is one of the few coffees on our list that is Kosher. In addition to taste, one factor in its popularity is that the coffee granules are ground much finer, making it very easy and efficient to dissolve.

Cafe Tastle Gold brings you high quality, premium coffee flavor without the need of a traditional coffee maker.  Just add one heaping teaspoon of freeze dried coffee into a cup of hot water to enjoy its earthy flavor along with its rich and bold aroma.

The coffee comes in a jumbo sized 17.85 ounce BPA free, plastic container and will make a whopping 270 cups of freeze dried coffee at one teaspoon per serving. The larger packaging makes this coffee perfect for the office, family gatherings, and catering events such as weddings.

Cafe Tastle 100% Organic

If you love the taste of Cafe Tastle Gold, but would prefer an organic coffee, then this 100% organic freeze dried coffee is for you. 

Grown on some of the best organic coffee plantations in the world, their coffee is both planted and harvested without the use of herbicides, pesticides, or any other harmful chemicals.  These growing methods have earned the coffee organic certification according to the standards set by the United States Department of Agriculture.  

The coffee is smooth and has an amazing flavor and aroma.  The light flavor is perfect for someone who prefers a lighter tasting cup of coffee but some coffee drinkers may find the suggested teaspoon of coffee granule to be a bit too light.  This problem can be easily remedied by adding a little more freeze dried coffee to beef up their brew.  

This 3.5 oz jar makes approximately 54 cups of organic coffee and like all of Cafe Tastle’s products is certified Kosher. 

Best Kona

Hawaii 100% Kona Coffee Instant Freeze Dried

The Mulvadi corporation is well known for producing 100% Kona Coffee that is loved by coffee drinkers around the world.

There are many tropical places (including other parts of Hawaii) that produce wonderful coffee, but what makes Kona coffee so special is the unique microclimate of the Kona region.  

Located on the western slope of a volcano at around 1,000 to 3,500 feet above sea level, the  unique microclimate of the Kona region is ideal for growing the perfect coffee beans.  Perfect tropical temperatures combined with morning sun mixed with afternoon clouds and showers on rich, well-drained volcanic soil provides a magical blend of conditions for growing delicious coffee

Mulvaid harvests nothing but the finest Kona coffee beans to create their famous freeze dried coffee, resulting in a rich flavor with a deep aroma and smooth taste.

Every single package carries the official seal of the Independent Kona Coffee Growers Association, ensuring that you are buying one of the best quality Kona products Hawaii has to offer. The packaging also carries the stay of Hawaii certification reassuring consumers that the coffee they are purchasing is 100% pure Kona.  This 1.5 oz. glass jar locks in the Kona flavor and aroma, and makes approximately 30 cups of aromatic coffee that is rich in both body and flavor.

Hula Girl 100% Kona Coffee

Hula Girl’s freeze dried 100% Kona coffee is some of Hawaii’s finest.  This freeze dried coffee is made using the finest Kona coffee beans grown and harvested in Hawaii’s Kona region.  Each bag contains 1.7 oz. of freeze dried Kona coffee, which amounts to approximately 30 cups.  Hula Girl is also available in single serve pouches.

Just add hot water to 1-2 teaspoons of granules and enjoy a cup of coffee that is both highly aromatic and smooth in flavor.  It is worth noting that this coffee does not dissolve well in cold water so if you are using it for iced coffee, we recommend you dissolve the desired amount in a little hot water and then top with cold water and ice. 

Best Medium Roast

Waka Coffee Quality Instant Coffee

Medium roast coffee, often overlooked by coffee connoisseurs, is in fact one of the most popular roasts among many coffee drinkers. Not too bold, not to light, but just the perfect amount of flavor and aroma with very little bitterness.  

Waka Coffee answers the call of coffee drinkers everywhere who prefer this
“in the middle” roast.  Made with 100% arabica coffee beans, this smooth and balanced Colombian roast is a favorite of many.  Loaded with citrus flavor, this freeze dried coffee guarantees you a fresh cup with every pour. 

Each 8 ounce bag of premium instant coffee has a convenient to use resealable zipper and makes around 80 cups of coffee.  Waka even offers a smaller pack of 8 individual single serve envelopes for those days you want to stash one in your purse or gym bag. 

Douwe Egberts Medium Roast Pure Gold 

Douwe Egberts is a popular brand in the instant coffee market and the medium roast Pure Gold is a favorite. This is the ideal coffee for those who do not care for the extremes of mild or strong coffees as their Pure Gold bend is formulated to create that perfect in-between flavor.

The company uses their authentic roasting process to make the coffee both aromatic and well balanced in terms of flavor profile and taste. The hand picked coffee beans are roasted and freeze dried immediately afterward.  They are then sealed and packed in a glass jar to ensure freshness, flavor, and aroma. All packaging is done at the company headquarters in The Netherlands and then shipped all over the world.

Just add a few teaspoons to hot water and stir.  This coffee also comes in single serve envelopes for those who need to enjoy it on the go.

Best Dark Roast

Douwe Egberts Pure Indulgence

Netherlands based Douwe Egberts Pure Indulgence is the coffee for those who prefer a bolder roast.  This dark roast coffee may seem a little pricey when compared to other brands but the price is totally worth the flavor this freeze dried coffee has to offer. 

The Pure Indulgence bend is made from the finest quality beans and carries a rich and velvety flavor. Over 250 years of experience in coffee making can be felt the moment you take your first sip. The pure aroma and rich taste of this coffee is what makes it a favorite among many.

Douwe Egberts coffee comes in a 7.05 oz. glass jar and makes approximately 120 cups of coffee.  One important thing to note is that the product should be kept at room temperature to prevent the coffee from sticking to the glass  .

Bustelo Supreme Regular Freeze Dried

Cafe Bustelo is probably not the first name that comes to mind when you think about great freeze dried coffee and while the brand is not widely popular, they have been producing some of the best freeze dried coffee on the market for close to a hundred years.  

Cafe Bustelo sources their coffee beans from some of the best coffee producing regions in the world, meaning you get flavor filled coffee that is consistently good.  

The Supreme Regular Freeze Dried Instant Coffee is made by carefully roasting and brewing the beans at optimal conditions.  The beans are then freeze dried to lock in both flavor and freshness. 

Bustelo Supreme Regular Freeze Dried coffee comes in a 3.52 oz. jar and makes approximately 50 cups of coffee. 

Best organic

Cafe Altura Freeze Dried Instant Organic 

Not only does Cafe Altura’s freeze dried instant coffee taste great, but it is also organic with a fair trade certification so you can feel good about drinking it too. 

This certified Kosher coffee is the perfect way to start your morning.  Cafe Altura’s exclusively sourced blend of 100% Arabica beans is organically grown and sourced from three continents.  It is freeze dried using a certified organic process to maintain its fresh taste and aroma. 

The 3.5 oz. jar makes approximately 60 cups and can be enjoyed hot or iced.

Native Organic Instant Freeze Dried

Native is a brand that offers a wide range of organic products including its freeze dried coffee.  

Made from organically grown Arabic beans sourced from Brazil, this coffee is flavorful and aromatic.  The freeze drying process used by Native is a modern manufacturing technique, in which coffee is dehydrated while it is still frozen, keeping the coffee’s flavor notes and taste in tact.  The result is a mild, balanced, and delicious cup of coffee. 

It comes in a 3.17 oz. sealed glass jar to maintain its freshness, and can make up to 75 cups of coffee.

Best Flavored

Moccona Freeze Dried Coffee Caramel Infused

Moccona is a popular Australian coffee producer whose products are shipped and enjoyed around the world and this caramel infused coffee is no exception.  

This flavor infused coffee is one of the company’s best selling products and is very convenient for those who prefer a flavored coffee, as it alleviates the need for a flavored syrup. The company also offers a hazelnut infused coffee that is quite popular.

Moccona’s freeze dried coffee comes packaged in a glass jar to ensure freshness and each 100 g. jar will make approximately 50 cups of coffee and you can also find Moccona freeze dried caramel infused coffee in single serve envelopes for those days you need to throw one in your purse, or gym bag on the way out the door. 

Best Decaf

Mount Hagen Decaffeinated

You have already seen Mount Hagen on our list under our top picks and their decaf is just a good as their regular brews.  Mount Hagen has been sourcing their coffee beans from the lush mountains of Papua New Guinea since 1086 (hence the name Mount Hagen), and have been perfecting their instant coffee blend over the past three decades. The result is an organic, fair trade, and deliciously smooth freeze dried coffee. 

Known for using premium quality beans, harvested by fully organic farmers, Mount Hagen is a brand you can feel good about purchasing. As a matter of fact, it was the first instant coffee brand to be certified organic.

This freeze dried decaffeinated instant coffee is made from high quality arabica beans sourced from highlands and is 100% organic thanks to biodynamic farming practices that are devoid of chemical or pesticide usage. 

The glass jar ensures that the flavor remains intact, and one 3.53 oz. jar will make approximately 60 cups of coffee.  Simply stir a teaspoon of coffee grounds into hot water and you will have a great tasting cup of coffee.

Maxwell House Decaffeinated Colombian 

The US company Maxwell House is a household name recognized by coffee lovers everywhere and has been around for more than a century. They offer a wide range of coffee products, including freeze dried coffee. 

This decaffeinated blend is produced from 100% Colombian coffee beans and uses state of the art technology to freeze dry the beans while maintaining the coffee’s flavor and aroma. The resulting flavor is full bodied and aromatic.  

The product comes in a basic plastic bag and contains 8 oz. of freeze dried coffee.

Best Budget

Nescafe Gold Blend Decaf Freeze Dried

Nescafe is a popular brand among coffee lovers and a common household name.  After all, they control 70% of the freeze dried coffee market and with over 75 years of expertise manufacturing coffee, it’s no wonder.  

The Gold Blend Decaf is a combination of Robusta and Arabica beans, carefully selected, and then decaffeinated using a pure water process.  After the beans have gone through the decaffeination process they are carefully roasted to bring out their flavor and aroma. 

Nescafe’s Gold Blend Decaf comes in a 200g glass jar to maintain its flavor and aroma and can yield up to 111 cups of coffee.  Just add 1-2 teaspoons of coffee to hot water, stir and enjoy the smooth taste and rich aroma. 

Folgers Classic Roast Instant Coffee Crystals

When you hear the name Folgers, the first word that comes to mind is classic.  It’s the best part of wakin’ up after all.  This iconic American brand’s mountain grown coffee has been around for more than 150 years and offers a classic medium roast flavor and a company doesn’t stick around that long unless it has a great product. 

Folgers Classic instant coffee crystals dissolve smoothly in water or milk and are also great for baking.  Each 8 ounce canister is made from coffee beans roasted in New Orleans, Louisiana and yields approximately 120 cups.  Folgers Classic roast is also available in Decaf as well as single serve packets. 

Best Espresso

Cafe Tastle Platinum Espresso Freeze Dried

Cafe Tastle has made our list for yet a third time.  The varied coffee product offerings of this company has won over the hearts of coffee lovers everywhere, including this freeze dried espresso.  

Made from coffee beans that are roasted to perfection and then freeze dried to ensure each cup of espresso is rich in flavor and aroma without the bitterness that you can sometimes get with a darker espresso roast. 

Cafe Tastle Platinum Espresso comes in a glass jar to seal in freshness and maintain the rich aroma.  Each 7.14 oz. jar can make up to 108 cups of espresso. 

Best Microground

Anthony’s Organic Coffee (ultra fine microground)

Anthony’s Organic Ultra Fine Microground Coffee, made from 100% Latin American Arabica beans,  has an excellent aroma and taste profile. This premium organic, Non-GMO coffee is grown and harvested without chemicals, using organic growing practices.

The coffee is then freeze dried and microground into super fine particles to help it easily dissolve.  Just add 1-2 teaspoon to hot or cold  water and enjoy an aromatic brew. 

Each bag contains 14 oz. of microground freeze dried coffee.

Longest Shelf Life

Franklin’s Finest Survival Coffee

If you are a frequent camper or just want to stock up on coffee for a rainy day then Franklin’s Finest Survival Coffee from Patriot Pantry is a coffee you can rely on.  With a shelf life of up to 25 years, this coffee doesn’t disappoint.  

The first emergency survival coffee out there, Franklin’s finest has managed to impress coffee drinkers throughout the world…especially outdoor enthusiasts. Made from 100% Colombian coffee beans, Franklin’s Finest mixes into a flavorful and aromatic brew.

Each container comes with 12 resealable 60 serving pouches which amounts to a total of 720 cups of tasty coffee. The resealable bags are heavy-duty, military grade Mylar pouches and lock in the flavor for long term storage.

Is freeze dried coffee the same as instant coffee?

Yes and No.  Freeze dried coffee is the highest quality form of instant coffee but just because a coffee is instant doesn’t mean it is freeze dried.  The term “instant coffee” refers to any coffee in powder or crystal form that can be mixed with hot water and enjoyed…well, instantly. That includes both freeze dried coffee and spray dried coffee, so it is very important to make sure the instant coffee you are purchasing is actually freeze dried.

Is freeze dried coffee bad for you?

Over consumption of caffeine in any form can result in headaches, jitters, and rapid heart beat.  That includes freeze dried coffee.  The only other concern with freeze dried coffee is the level of acrylamide in the coffee. According to Medical Daily (https://www.medicaldaily.com/instant-coffee-good-bad-443912), acrylamide is a chemical that could damage the nervous system and increase the risk of cancer at high levels. Acrylamide appears naturally when coffee beans are being roasted and compared to regularly brewed coffee, you get two times more of it from instant coffee.  The levels in freeze dried coffee, while doubled, are still within the safe limits of consumption.

Excessive amounts of caffeine can also result in lack of sleep or increased tension.  If that is the case, you may consider cutting down on your daily coffee consumption or switch to decaffeinated coffee.  

If you are particularly sensitive to caffeine, freeze dried coffee may be the way to go.  Instant coffee in general contains only about half the level of caffeine as regularly brewed coffee. 

How much freeze dried coffee should I drink?

It is recommended that your daily intake of freeze dried coffee should not exceed 600 mg.  That amounts to around 5 cups per day.  However, there are some people who regularly drink as many as 8-10 cups per day with no side effects.  As long as the excess caffeine doesn’t result in lack of sleep or increased tension, and you have no health issues, you should be able to safely consume as much coffee as your body tolerates. 

The Benefits of Freeze Dried Coffee

Freeze dried coffee comes with a number of benefits.  Its convenient, great for traveling, and after years of articles telling us how bad coffee is for us, scientists have recently started documenting a number of health benefits of coffee, including both traditional brewed coffee and freeze dried coffee.  

Retained aromas

Since the freeze drying process involves coffee being cooled and then evaporated at extremely low temperatures, the aromatic elements of the resulting product are fully retained.  This means that the coffee crystals fully release the aromatice elements of coffee the second you add hot water.  Since the drying process involves very little heat, the flavors are retained as well, allowing you to enjoy every sip. 

Convenience

Lets face it, freeze dried coffee is just plain convenient.  Simply add water, cream, and sugar to taste and you can quickly prepare your morning cup with little fuss.  Freeze dried coffee travels well, taking up very little space and requiring very few tools (a cup, a spoon, and some hot water), makes it perfect for camping or hiking.  It is also great for business travel. Packing a little freeze dried coffee into your suitcase is much more convenient and considerably less expensive than hitting up the nearest coffee chain. 

Variety

While 70% of the freeze dried coffee market is held by Nescafe, there is still a wide variety of other brands that offer excellent instant coffees.  When choosing freeze dried coffee, you are not as limited as you once were.  You can now find options including light, medium, or dark roasts, organic free trade varieties, as well as several flavored coffees. 

Improved Cognitive Functions and Increased Attention

There is evidence that regular consumption of coffee (including freeze dried coffee) can improve cognitive functions.  These functions include decision making, memory, reasoning, reaction time, concentration, and sensuous perception. 

The consumption of caffeine in normal amounts (around 75 mg) can actually increase attention and alertness, so you don’t have to feel guilty about consuming that afternoon cup to get you through that mid-day slump.  Just don’t consume too much before bedtime as caffeine can disrupt essential sleep patterns.

Improves Memory and Lowers Risk of Memory Related Disease

Black coffee is known to improve memory.  As we age, our cognitive skills begin to diminish resulting in likelihood of developing memory related diseases.  According to an article in the Journal of Neurological Research, regular coffee consumption can aid in combating diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Dementia, and Parkinson’s by keeping your nerves active and enhancing brain function. 

Therapeutic Benefits of Freeze Dried Coffee

Regularly drinking coffee may lead to an increase in your blood pressure, but luckily this effect often diminishes over time.  Studies have shown that drinking one to two cups of black coffee can reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, such as stroke.  Over time, black coffee improves your heart strength and reduces inflammation in the body.

Coffee also boosts liver health by lowering the level of harmful liver enzymes that are found in the blood.  Studies show that people who consume four cups of black coffee have much lower chances of developing liver diseases such as liver cancer, fatty liver disease, hepatitis, and alcoholic cirrhosis.  

How freeze dried coffee is made?

Freeze drying is a process where already brewed coffee (also known as coffee liquor), is dehydrated by freezing it at subzero temperatures. The freeze drying process involves a number of steps and is far more complicated than spray drying.

First the coffee extract is frozen to reach 20℉(-6℃). At this stage it begins to take on a slushy consistency.

Next, the now slushy coffee is further cooled to -50℉(-45℃). This temperature can be achieved through either slow cooling or quick cooling.  Slow cooling results in darker and larger granules while quick cooling leaves smaller and lighter granules.

After the second cooling process, the sheets of frozen coffee are ground down to the desired granule size for drying.

Finally, the ground particles are sent to a drying chamber where a heated vacuum vaporizes the ice, resulting in freeze dried coffee. 

It is vital that the pressure and temperature of the freeze drying process is exact, in order to retain the taste, texture, shape, and color of the resulting coffee. 

How do you prepare freeze dried coffee?

There are a number of ways to prepare freeze dried coffee.  We suggest you experiment with these techniques as well as the coffee to water ratio that suits your particular palate.

Cold water first

At least one study showed that adding very hot water to instant coffee tends to give the brew a “powdery” taste.  One technique that will allow you to avoid this is by first using cold water to dissolve the instant coffee.  Use 1:1 ratio (eg 1tbs of coffee granules and 1tbs of water) to make a paste.  Make sure the coffee is well blended and then add hot water to your very thick, concentrated coffee.

Experiment

The only way to find your perfect balance of brew is through continuous adjustment of your coffee blend.  If the taste is too strong, add a little more water, if it’s too weak, add a little more coffee.  Experiment with different types of sugars and creamers as well. 

Make it foamy

If you love cappuccinos, you can recreate a similar drink with freeze dried coffee.  Mix the coffee a little stronger than you usually would and then top with frothed milk.  You can use a milk frother, a blender, or even a mason jar (just shake the milk vigorously) to create the milk foam.

Blend without water

If a creamy coffee is more your style, skip the water altogether.  You can mix the freeze dried coffee with hot milk instead of water.  Add your favorite sweetener or flavoring and you have a delicious and creamy coffee drink.

Final Verdict

Instant coffee has come a long way, and with such a wide variety of great freeze dried options out there it’s hard to choose.  Our overall top pick is the Mount Hagen with Cafe Tastle coming in a close second.  Both of these coffees were consistent and great tasting, but if storage is what you are looking for, stick to Franklin’s Finest Survival Coffee because their 25 year shelf life can’t be beat.