Instant Coffee Can Actually Taste Good
As far as I can tell from the dozens of cups I've grudgingly sucked down over the years, the emphasis on instant coffee has always been more on the "instant" rather than the coffee. Most "from the can" instant coffee either comes out too thin or full of undissolved particulate and its flavors lay somewhere on the spectrum between "dirty water" and "rug my dog sleeps on." So if someone claims they've made an instant coffee that actually tastes good, I'll dissolve some and give it a try.
And that's the claim of new startup Sudden Coffee. The nice thing about Sudden is that it actually comes from someone intimately involved with the third wave coffee revolution of the last several years. Kalle is the co-founder and CEO of Sudden and also a recent ninth place finisher in the World Barista Championships.
For decades, instant coffee was made by either freeze drying or spray drying brewed coffee into crystals. Usually very, very bad coffee The method of crystallization Sudden uses on the backend is proprietary, and Freese couldn't give me details, but what he does on the front end likely results in the biggest difference. Sudden uses single origin beans roasted by a few elite coffee roasters. Right now they're using beans from the Sidoma region in Ethiopia roasted by Vancouver's 49th Parallel, but Freese said that within six months they'll offer various origin options for customers to choose from.
The end result is hands down the best instant coffee I've had. The taste is earthy and full-bodied, almost caramel-y without any bitterness to speak of.
Is it better than what get with similar beans and your Chemex? Probably not. But that's sort of like saying CSI Miami isn't as good as The Wire (sorry Kalle, you're the David Caruso is this analogy). You can't judge them on the same scale. You can, however, still enjoy both. And if I'm in a hurry to get a cup of coffee on the way out the door in the morning, which I often am, Sudden would save me the trouble of grinding and filtering or worse, waiting in line at a Manhattan coffee shop during rush hour.
Right now Sudden offers a subscription model of 8, 16 or 32 cups a month for $24, $45 or $85. And I'll admit those prices are high for instant coffee. But single origin beans don't come cheap, crystalized or not.
If you want to believe that tasty and instant coffee are not mutually exclusive terms you can pick up a subscription to Sudden here.