this thing's incredible

Ike Barinholtz Led Me to an Instant Coffee That Tastes Better Than Starbucks

Photo: Courtesy of the vendor, Getty Images

Who knew that the actor Ike Barinholtz would turn out to be my lifestyle guru? Not me! Life takes weird turns sometimes. This past spring, Barinholtz (Google him; you’ll be like “Oh, right”) did a Grub Street Diet where he detailed his eating habits. I found his diet reasonably aspirational and was intrigued by frequent mentions of the Mount Hagen organic instant coffee with which he starts the day.

Barinholtz displayed self-awareness about the popular consensus on instant coffee: “I know coffee purists dislike that, but we’re living in a golden era of instant coffee,” he said. Of his preferred brand, he promised that it is “high-quality and rich.” Hey, that’s exactly what I want in a coffee! More important, I am a person who has no patience with finicky coffee-making rituals and no desire to clutter my tiny kitchen with coffee-related tools and accessories. If making coffee at home takes more than one minute, I simply won’t do it. But I also dislike buying coffee, because I am congenitally thrifty. So, I ordered a canister of the Ike Barinholtz-endorsed coffee.

Cut to six months later. These arid little crystals have brought me so much joy! I feel like an astronaut when I prepare my daily cup, stirring a scant spoonful into a mug of hot water. I would describe the taste as “very brown,” in a good way. If you polled 100 people on their ideal cup of coffee, this would be the resulting average. It is a friendly and pleasing brew — not bitter or acidic. And it is reliable; call it the coffee equivalent of a Fuji apple. The kind of coffee you could drink four or five cups of, Icelandic-style.

Is it better than Starbucks? Easily. Is it better than your local premium artisanal coffee place? Most likely not. But it is more than delicious enough, and you do not have to leave the house for it. What’s more, the cost nets out to 21 cents per cup. That’s two dimes and a penny! If you have one cup per day, you’ll save $750 per year by adhering to the order of Mount Hagen. 

Mount Hagen Organic Instant Coffee
Photo: Amie Noel Designs/Courtesy of the vendor

I drink my coffee in this mossy earthen tumbler because it is hand-cuppable, keeps the coffee warm, and looks attractive with any color of liquid in it.

Unfortunately this is sold out, but here is another beautiful handmade mug in a striking turquoise color.

From $21
Photo: Courtesy of the vendor

The best thing about the Zojirushi is that it keeps things as they are. Liquid in the Zojirushi stays cold if you want it to be cold. It stays hot if you want it to be hot. The mug’s Amazon reviews are full of testimonials from people who doubted the longevity of their Zojirushi’s temperature retention and after long days of keeping hot coffee in the thermos took big gulps, only to burn their mouths. It locks so it won’t spill in your bag, even if you turn it upside down. (You can read more about its excellent-ness here.)

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I Found an Instant Coffee That Tastes Better Than Starbucks