This Opinion article is part of a Narcity Media series. The views expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.
If you need a quick cup of coffee in the morning, instant is definitely the fastest way to get a cup of it.
I don't typically use instant coffee, but if I'm in a rush, I tend to grab a coffee from Wendy's, which is my favourite brew out of all the chain coffees in Canada, but with the price of just about everything at a soul-crushing high, I'm trying to save a few loonies and toonies.
So, to cut back a bit on my take-out coffee habit I decided to taste-test some of the popular instant coffees available in Canada's grocery stores to see which one I could incorporate into my daily caffeine routine.
Between No Frills and Loblaws, I picked up Nescafé Taster's Choice Classic, Maxwell House Original Roast, Starbucks Via Instant Medium Roast Coffee, Tim Hortons Premium Instant Coffee and Nescafé Rich Colombian.
I rated each coffee out of five in terms of how much I enjoyed it — that being said, while there is one coffee I liked way more than the others, it wouldn't be the one I'd buy again.
Maxwell House Original Roast
Maxwell House Original Roast coffee.
I used to drink Maxwell House Original Roast coffee during my undergrad because it's cheap and it gets the job done when it's 11 p.m. and you have a paper due the next morning you haven't started as yet — but it's definitely not what I'd classify as good coffee.
It's surprisingly bitter (and not in a pleasant way) and tastes quite acrid in almost a burnt way. This immediately gave me heartburn, so while I do appreciate that it's the cheapest coffee of all the ones I tried, it's the one I'd likely never buy again.
Price: $5.49 for 150 grams
Price per 100 grams: $3.66
Tim Hortons Premium Instant Coffee, Medium Roast
A jar of Tim Hortons Premium Instant Coffee, Medium Roast.
The first thing I noticed when I mixed the Tim Hortons coffee granules with the boiling water was that it took on quite a pretty red hue, which you don't typically see.
This instant coffee does indeed taste like Tim Hortons coffee, which isn't necessarily a pro in my books as I find their brew to be quite watery and bland.
This coffee is not for me, but if you're a Timmie's lover, you should definitely check it out!
Price: $8.99 for 100 grams
Price per 100 grams: $8.99
Nescafé Rich Colombian
A jar of Nescafé Rich Colombian.
The Nescafé Rich Colombian coffee is also quite nostalgic to me as it's the one my dad's been drinking since I was a little kid, so I do have memories of drinking it in high school and whenever I visit their house now.
This is okay and I don't mind drinking it, but it's not something I'd buy for myself as I find it to be a bit too bitter and artificial tasting for my liking.
That being said, it gets the job done and I don't mind it as much as the Tims or Maxwell options, so it's getting a passing score.
Price: $6.47 for 100 grams
Price per 100 grams: $6.47
Nescafé Taster's Choice Classic
A jar of Nescafé Taster's Choice Classic.
Taster's Choice Classic from Nescafé is a really nice coffee that's super easy and pleasant to drink.
It's smooth, has a medium flavour and I could easily drink a cup of this in the morning without feeling like I'm sacrificing on quality, and I'd definitely pick up a bottle of this to keep in my pantry for the days when I can't be bothered to deal with my French press.
Price: $7.99 for 100 grams
Price per 100 grams: $7.99
Starbucks Via Instant Medium Roast Coffee, Colombia
A package of Starbucks Via Instant Medium Roast Coffee, Colombia.
I'll start by saying this packaging is a pain in the butt as it was hard to open the individual sachets, but I do understand that's done in order to keep the coffee as fresh as possible.
Unlike the other coffees, this was more of a powder as opposed to a granule, and when the water was added to it the smell was immediately incredible and it was the darkest brew visually of the day.
This instant coffee is delicious and if I hadn't just made it myself, I genuinely would have thought it was percolated. It has a nice bitterness at the end that I enjoyed, and it was the cup I found myself reaching for instead of the others.
That being said, this coffee is pricey. While the others vary in price from about $3 to $8 dollars per 100 grams, Starbucks' instant coffee comes in at a whopping $36 per 100 grams, which is three times the price of Nescafé Taster's Choice Classic.
For that price, I think I'd rather go out and buy a fancy coffee that someone's made for me, as that feels a little more worth it in terms of what I'm paying for!
Price: $9.49 for 26.4 grams
Price per 100 grams: $36
So, while the instant coffee from Starbucks was definitely my favourite in terms of taste, for a considerably cheaper cup of java, I'll be sticking to Nescafé Taster's Choice Classic and will make sure to keep an eye out for it when it's on sale to add to my pantry.
But, if you're more interested in buying your coffee while you're out and about, I recently taste-tested and ranked some of the coffees you can pick up at popular chain stores in Canada from Starbucks, Tim Hortons, Second Cup, Wendy's and McDonald's.
Or, if you need to pick up a cup of coffee while you're buying gas, I also tried out the different brews you can buy at Canada's gas stations and there's only one that I'd actually ever drink again.
These prices are confirmed at the time of publishing, but they can change at any time. Taxes and fees may not be included.