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Top Picks

How we choose: The best coffee highlighted here were selected based on 35 reviews of 12 products. Our top picks are those that are readily-available in the United States and have received the highest overall ratings from reviewers.

How we test: Trailspace is powered entirely by our community of readers. The reviews posted here reflect the real-world experiences of outdoor enthusiasts just like you.

If you've used a coffee that you think should be listed here, please share your experience.

Disclosure: Trailspace never accepts payment for gear reviews, product placement, or editorial coverage. When you buy through affiliate links on our site, Trailspace may earn a small commission, which helps cover the costs of running the site.

Mount Hagen Organic Fairtrade Instant Coffee

user rating: 5 of 5 (3 reviews)

About as good as instant coffee gets, at a reasonable price and lower weight-per-cup than the main alternative. A good choice for extended backcountry trips where real coffee isn't worth the extra weight and hassle.

Reasons to Buy

  • Tastes pretty good (for instant)
  • Comes in jars or one-cup sachets
  • Price
  • My wife likes it

Reasons to Avoid

  • IT'S INSTANT COFFEE (what do you expect?)

Backcountry coffee is a perennial topic on the TS foums, with threads running on for weeks if not months, and many members weighing in with their own idiosyncratic preferences. Here’s another log for that long-burning fire. Here's the search image: And the backstory: A while back when my wife and I were planning a 10-day outing, we got into a little disagreement over what to do about coffee. We agreed that we had to have coffee, and that the weight and hassle of fresh brew wasn’t going to work for us this time—when you’re trying to get 10 days worth of food into two bear canisters and keep your starting weight reasonable, some things have to go.

Read more: Mount Hagen Organic Fairtrade Instant Coffee reviews (3)

Starbucks VIA Ready Brew

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (18 reviews)

I'm a recovering coffee snob who, in previous years, would have rather drank mud from a puddle than instant coffee of any brand. Those days are over.

Reasons to Buy

  • Miniscule packing size
  • Not hideously expensive
  • Tastes great!

Alright, I'll admit it. I'm a coffee snob. My grounds of choice come from Peet's Coffee, and I take great pride in brewing a full-bodied cuppa Joe, whether I'm at home or out in the wilderness. Over the years I've used espresso makers for backpacking, drip filter holders of all shapes and sizes, the Aero Press system (still a great way to brew, BTW) and good old Cowboy coffee. I will also admit to an aversion to anything from Starbuck's. All of that has changed since I tried the Via instant coffees.  My youngest daughter brought some home one evening, and hounded me for an hour to give one of them a go, and I did so just to get her to ease up.

Read more: Starbucks VIA Ready Brew reviews (18)

Alpine Start Original Blend Medium Roast Instant Coffee

user rating: 4 of 5 (1 review)

If you’re looking for instant coffee you’ll do well finding Alpine Start. Upmarket of center, Alpine Start offers a boldness, a complexity of flavor not often found outside of the fresh-ground-and-lovingly-brewed set. For those not married to the traditional method of coffee brewing, Alpine Start also allows a greatly reduced base weight and packed size in comparison.

Reasons to Buy

  • Very good flavor
  • Instantized
  • Light and compact
  • More versatile than ground coffee

Reasons to Avoid

  • Pricey

Best For: Well, you know—alpinists, apparently. Fast-packers, thru-hikers, college students, and commuters, also. All those who multi-task out of a desire to save time. Design Alpine Start is instantized (read: part micro-ground, part freeze-dried) coffee packaged into little sealed plastic pouches, sized to make an individual serving. The plastic pouches themselves are robust enough to survive loose in your food bag or bear can, and do not come with any starter tears to catch on things and accidentally tear open.

Read more: Alpine Start Original Blend Medium Roast Instant Coffee review (1)

Alpine Start Dairy-Free Coffee + Creamer Instant Latte

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1 review)

This is a medium blend coffee with NON-dairy coconut creamer added to give a few calories and ease to make creamed coffee. I wanted to see of it lived up to its hype of instant coffee that actually tastes good.

Reasons to Buy

  • Medium Blend
  • Creamer added
  • Slightly sweetned
  • Packaging

Reasons to Avoid

  • Cost per box and amounts from sellers varies; for example, found 5 for $8.99 and found 8 for $9.

  So with the saying "instant coffee that actually tastes good" I had to purchase this coffee. I've been using instant coffee for trips now for over 10 years. I wanted to give a look at the coffee world like I do in my normal household. This coffee has the cream already added so that cuts down one item that I normally have to pack. It also has a little bit of sweetness from the creamer if you're not into a really sweet cup of coffee. I tend to drink medium to dark roasts at my house and at coffee shops.

Read more: Alpine Start Dairy-Free Coffee + Creamer Instant Latte review (1)

Kuju Coffee Starter Pack

user rating: 4 of 5 (1 review)

The Kuju Starter Pack offers one sample of the brand's six different coffees and an enameled stainless steel mug. These are pour-over coffees that do not require any apparatus: simply tear open, perch on a cup, and pour the hot water through the grounds. Six coffees cover most tastes; the mug offers a nostalgic touch. A useful starter kit to explore one's tastes, and an ingenious option for coffee lovers craving a better brew in the wilderness.

Reasons to Buy

  • innovative pour-over design eliminates need for separate coffee apparatus
  • real grounds provide rich flavor
  • brews coffee in 2-3 minutes

Reasons to Avoid

  • priced above other coffee options
  • wet waste (used coffee filter with grounds)

  Kuju's clever pour-over design It is my personal grail quest, the quest for the perfect backcountry coffee. I am always looking for something new, something different, something better. I impulsively decided to try Kuju Coffee upon seeing it advertised as a 100% “specialty-grade coffee” that boasts an innovative “Pocket Pour-over” design. I first ordered some of Kuju's Basecamp Blend. My interest was piqued by tasting this, so when I received an email with an offer for a free box of Angels Landing with a purchase of X dollars, I ordered the Kuju Starter Pack—one of each type of Kuju coffee plus an enameled mug.

Read more: Kuju Coffee Starter Pack review (1)

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