14 Nescafé Instant Coffee Varieties, Ranked Worst To Best

It's no secret that there are many different ways to make coffee and a whole slew of different brands to choose from. Unlike other types of coffee that need a whole lot of special equipment, skill, and background knowledge, instant coffee from Nescafé requires only water and granules to make a quick cup.

Plus, instant coffee can be helpful in many recipes — including coffee-related ones and even ones you wouldn't necessarily expect. For example, dalgona, a type of whipped coffee from Korea, uses instant coffee, sugar, milk, and water to craft an Instagram-worthy beverage. You could even use instant espresso powder to supercharge your cookies with a caffeine kick.

Nescafé has an extensive lineup of coffees with many different roasts, origins, and flavorings. If you're in the market for some Nescafé instant coffee and might wonder which is the best option, I took care of some of the sampling for you. I evaluated each offering Nescafé sent my way based on aroma, flavor, and my overall enjoyment. Though I found that nothing quite hits like a freshly brewed espresso, AeroPress, or pour-over, in a pinch, there are certainly Nescafé options that would meet any caffeine lover's needs, especially in terms of convenience.

Some recommendations are based on first-hand impressions of promotional materials and products provided by the manufacturer/distributor/etc.

14. Taster's Choice hazelnut

When you order flavored coffee, the options are usually hazelnut or vanilla. So, it's not surprising that Nescafé offers a hazelnut instant coffee. What is surprising, however, is that the ingredients listed on the box do not include hazelnuts but caramelized sugar and acesulfame potassium, a quite sweet sugar substitute. The box also mentions artificial flavor, which likely accounts for the hazelnut flavor. I had high hopes for this product because I enjoy hazelnut as a flavor in coffee, but unfortunately, it didn't live up to my expectations.

The hazelnut packets are designed for convenience and allow you to enjoy a flavorful cup of coffee wherever you are. This variety includes added sugar, which sets it apart from Nescafé's plain coffee options. The coffee granules are jagged, matte little pieces, similar to other Taster's Choice options. While instructions on the other packages recommend a 6 to 8-ounce pour of water, its hazelnut packets explicitly call for 8 ounces.

The artificially flavored component lacked the genuine hazelnut essence I was looking for. The coffee's aroma is pleasant and raised my hopes, but the overall experience suggests that you might be better off adding real hazelnut syrup to your coffee. After all, there are plenty of great coffee syrups out there that can deliciously enhance your coffee.

13. Taster's Choice house blend decaf

Admittedly, I am not a decaf coffee drinker, but I know many people enjoy it throughout the day when they don't want to risk having too much caffeine. It's a great option for those who want the coffee flavor without the effects. This decaffeinated product is just a decaf version of Nescafé's house blend, and it can be prepared just as easily. 

I was very curious as to how the decaf product would compare with the flavor of the regular house blend, so I tried them in succession during the taste test to directly compare flavors. I found that the decaffeinated instant coffee had a similar flavor profile to the house blend, but it was marred by a slightly off-putting odor. The difference is noticeable upon opening the jar; the decaf variant lacks the quintessential coffee aroma and instead carries a peculiar, undefinable scent. 

I also noticed that the decaf blend has a noticeably darker and more bitter taste than the original. It lacked the mildness expected from a typical house blend. The decaf and regular versions are starkly different in flavor — almost as if they are two distinct types of coffee.

12. Ice roast

I love iced coffee all year round. Even if it's bitterly cold in winter, I'm still adding ice to my coffee. And in the summertime, I struggle to drink my iced coffee fast enough to prevent it from melting everywhere. So, I was especially excited when a Nescafé sent along its Ice Roast for me to try out.

This variety is formulated to dissolve in cold liquids. Its packaging offers instructions for dissolving in cold water and cold milk. Often, when you make iced coffee, you have to mess with hot water somewhere down the line, so jumping straight to cold water is definitely a desirable option. I was very impressed with how quickly the coffee dissolved in the cold water. However, the granules struggled to dissolve completely when mixed with milk. Not to mention, the recommended milk-to-coffee ratio results in a beverage that is far too light in color and taste. The flavor is exceedingly mild for both the water and milk beverages, which made for a more diluted iced coffee than I was looking for, even if I'm pleased that Nescafé offers an iced alternative.

11. Gold blonde espresso

Making espresso at home is not a cheap endeavor. Often, it requires expensive equipment to achieve results that are enjoyable enough to compare to the stuff you might purchase at Starbucks or another coffee shop. So, with the instant jar of Nescafé Gold blonde espresso in hand, I started imagining all the ways I could use the roast to make my favorites from Starbucks right at home.

To prepare the beverage, I followed the recommended ratio of 1 teaspoon of coffee to 2 ounces of hot water. I was impressed by the crema that appeared on top of the espresso, and it did last longer than the other espresso I sampled. But it wasn't as thick as I would have liked. Even though this product claims to be a blonde roast, I found it darker than I expected. Though, the flavor does not meet the expectations for espresso. It blended in with other, less distinct profiles and did not deliver the deep, rich espresso taste I desire after a meal or in my coffee drink. 

10. Taster's Choice French roast

If you enjoy espresso roast coffees generally, you'll probably also really like a dark, French roast coffee. The only roasts that are darker than the French variety are Italian and Spanish roasts. Typically, French roast coffee has a shiny exterior on the outside of the bean. But this Taster's Choice instant coffee has a rather muted color.

I sampled the small, single-serve packages and found them to be quite dark, with a gnarly flavor that actually tasted stronger than anything else I tried. If you prefer your coffee with an ultra-strong flavor that isn't particularly pleasant but definitely definitive, this might be the coffee that you would like. 

Like other Taster's Choice on-the-go coffees, this one dissolved very well in hot water. Even though the flavor is quite dark, this would be a pretty good choice for those who need to fuel up with something robust. The burnt flavor is a little hard to ignore, but it does have a full-bodied feel underneath.

9. Gold intense espresso

I was more impressed with Nescafé's Gold intense espresso offering than the blonde variety. Like the blonde, this is a finely ground coffee. The box instructed to mix the powder with 2 ounces of hot water for an espresso and 6 ounces for an Americano.

After giving this container a good whiff, I discovered that this coffee doesn't smell different than other Nescafé instant coffees — even though it's supposed to be the espresso variety. Though it's stronger in taste than blonde, it doesn't necessarily come off as too strong. When mixed with the water, it produces a lovely crema on top that dissipates quicker than I would have liked. 

In terms of flavor, the Gold intense variety matches the espresso taste that I wanted, but it's not as intense as other espressos. In a pinch, though, this is a reasonable enough replacement for espresso, especially if you're making something that uses espresso as an ingredient, like chocolate chip cookies

8. Clásico Brazil

The Clásico Brazil coffee emits a stale and burnt scent straight out of the container. Overall, the aroma alone lacks a super fresh feel. Despite the packaging's claims of a rich flavor, my sipping experience aligned more with the initial aroma. Like the scent, the taste also had a somewhat burnt quality. This was noticeable right from the first sip, which presented an intense burst of flavor that quickly tapered off.

The coffee is initially very striking; it delivers a rush of bold flavors from the outset. However, it doesn't maintain this intensity. Rather, it peters out rather swiftly and leaves a watery aftertaste. It is one of the bolder brews at first, but it definitely doesn't linger on the palate for long. This quick decline in flavor makes it less satisfying for those who prefer a coffee that offers a lasting taste experience from first to last sip.

7. Taster's Choice 100% Colombian

The Taster's Choice 100% Colombian coffee comes in single-serving sleeves, making it easy and ultra-convenient to take with you on the go. This coffee delivers on its promise of offering a simple alternative to traditional coffee, and it's easy to see how you can pour a pouch into a cup of warm water and be well on your way to a caffeinated start to the day. 

These Colombian granules differ from what I expected; they look more like the house blend granules than the fluffy, coarse, easily dissolvable Colombian counterpart that comes in a larger glass jar. This one is sized to create an 8-ounce cup of coffee and, as a result, is a bit more substantial in flavor. It packs more of a punch but also has more of a burnt taste, even though it's labeled as a medium roast on the package. I don't necessarily taste a medium roast in the finish of the coffee, which is why I ranked this coffee in the middle of the pack. 

6. Dolca

Most of the instant coffee varieties that I sampled had no added flavoring. Rather, they were simply coffees of different roasts. However, Nescafé's Dolca offers something unique: an attempt at caramel flavor via caramelized sugars mixed in with the coffee. 

This instant coffee uses a dark roast similar to the Clásico. I found that the caramelized sugars slightly muted the stronger, darker roast of the coffee. It didn't taste like a whole different roast and was, in fact, pretty similar, if not for that slight dilution. As a result, I like the plain dark roast because this one has just too much going on with it. Even though it's an instant coffee offering, I found it did remind me quite a bit of dark roast drip coffee, even if I didn't taste that specific caramel flavor as the ingredients and labeling might suggest.

5. Taster's Choice house blend

Think of a house blend coffee as agreeable and middle ground enough to suit many people's preferences. It's the kind of coffee diners and breakfast spots serve when you ask for a hot coffee. 

Nescafé's instant coffee version is a mid-to-light roast coffee that, based on my taste, leans much closer to the light side of things. It just barely tastes more than coffee water. The flavor is very basic in terms of what you expect coffee to be, and it doesn't provide anything special by way of an interesting coffee roast or flavoring. Since this one seemed to taste like a coffee you'd get at a breakfast diner or café, I found it impressive — on the fact that it's made with instant granules rather than a traditional drip. If you were looking for a solid ingredient to include in a recipe that needed coffee, this would be a suitable option based on its flavor alone. 

4. Decaf Clásico

Although I'm not typically a decaf coffee drinker, I still make it a point to keep some on hand to accommodate guests who might be avoiding caffeine. Since I don't use instant coffee often, having a jar in my cabinet is incredibly convenient. The main challenge, however, is finding a decaf coffee that closely mimics the flavor of its fully caffeinated counterpart.

The decaf version of Clásico has the same peculiar smell as the Taster's Choice decaf house blend. But I thought the decaf Clásico actually tasted more appetizing. If you're in the market for a decaf instant coffee, this might be the one to choose. It offers a taste similar to the dark roast Clásico fully-caffeinated version, though it's not identical — an expectation most decaf drinkers have become accustomed to. Indeed, it's challenging to get decaf coffee to taste exactly like regular coffee, but this one comes close.

3. Clásico Colombia

Whereas the house blend has rather smooth granules, the Clásico Colombia coffee is a bit finer and almost dirt-like. It has an easily dissolvable look to it, which held true as I watched the granules dissolve easier into the hot water than the house blend.

The Clásico Colombia required no stirring at all. This rapid dissolve would make it easier to travel with since a spoon isn't necessary — although this is not a claim that the brand outwardly makes. This variety has a stronger coffee taste than the house blend, and its notes are definitely on the fuller side. This Columbia coffee is closer to tasting like a freshly brewed cup of coffee than the house blend offers, and it's definitely darker, too. I thought this product tasted like more than coffee-flavored water, and it's one I could imagine serving to guests without any concern over its quality. 

2. Clásico

While the Dolca coffee included a combination of dark roast and caramelized sugar, the Clásico is purely a dark roast. Overall, I thought this Clásico was much better than the Dolca. 

The Clásico features a dark roast with granules that mix in as seamlessly as the Clásico Colombia. Just like the Colombia, the Clásico granules require no stirring — as long as you pour your water slowly. I also noticed that this coffee had a richer smell when it was both in the container and mixed into a freshly made cup. Of all the Nescafé varieties I've tried, this is definitely the one with the deepest coffee flavor, and it's one that I could see myself repeatedly reaching for an easy cup of coffee in the morning. The dark roast likely enhances its appeal, but this one really stands out by delivering a full flavor and body without tasting burnt or overly fruity.

1. Café de olla

Although the most traditional café de olla is brewed using a clay pot (called an olla de barro), Nescafé offers a simpler alternative in instant coffee form. Of the Nescafé instant coffees I tried, this one took the cake for its aroma and flavor, and I genuinely enjoyed drinking it more than the other varieties I sampled.

I ordered this product on Amazon, which came with a translation sticker to help me understand how to make this coffee. The first thing I noticed with this one was its scent. It has a much more vibrant aroma than the other Nescafé instant coffees. I was incredibly surprised by the flavor when I mixed it with the hot water. I enjoyed this one, and I really like the added taste of cinnamon in the beverage. The coffee, beyond the cinnamon, wasn't as enjoyable as the other coffee bases I sampled, but its overall flavor gave it the crown.


I initially sampled each coffee black to understand its true flavor profile without any additives that could alter my perception. This approach gives a clear baseline of taste, aroma, and overall enjoyment. However, I weighted taste more than the other factors in this ranking because I wanted a coffee that matched my personal preferences for a full-bodied profile with balanced sweetness and acidity. 

After I tasted each coffee black, I introduced sweetened condensed milk to each sample. I chose sweetened condensed milk because its rich texture and sweetness can enhance and sometimes transform the coffee experience by highlighting different notes and nuances that black coffee might not reveal on its own. Not to mention, it's what I use on a daily basis with my own coffee, so I understand its impact on basic black coffee. This two-step tasting method allows me to provide a balanced review, catering to both coffee purists who prefer their coffee black and those who enjoy their brew with a hint of sweetness and creaminess.