All Dressed up ~ Trader Joe’s Instant Coffee

Well – I am a sucker for coffee and having a bit of Joe out in the back-country is no exception.  At home, I prefer my coffee straight up – black.

For me however, I find I run into a problem, when the coffee I usually bring to the backcountry – (Starbucks Via) usually tastes pretty bitter and burnt and not the ideal cup of hot deliciousness you’d expect on a perfect serene morning in the Boundary Waters.  For me , it often requires  a bit of creamer, or sugar to cut the bitterness, and my husband always prefers cream and sugar in his coffee regardless of the quality of the bean, or brewing method.

When adding dry creamer, and sugar (which definitely adds weight to the food pack) it makes the whole solution taste kind of weird. We’ve also tried the Mate2Go concentrated liquid creamer to kind of cut down in weight, but again, blah for the taste for me.

Perhaps I’m a java snob… perhaps I hadn’t found the right coffee, or the right balance of instant + creamer, or way to brew;  instant vs. pour over, vs. french press….

So – I was super pumped when on a recent Trader Joe’s run I came across this little beauty! The package looked promising with its cute little poka-dots and cleaver marketing lines. (After all – that’s how you should shop right?)IMG_20170413_181541
Ten packets at $1.99 was a steal, and I was super interested. This definitely seemed, “too good to be true”, especially for the price, but then again, at $1.99 it was definitely worth a try, and everything I’ve ever bought at Trader Joe’s had been delicious so far.

So, I threw it in my cart, went to the checkout and was pretty eager to give it a go.




My first impression was that the packets themselves are a bit longer and wider than the Starbucks via, but not obscenely so.  (Perhaps the size of a Crayola Marker). They’ll definitely still pack-down pretty nice, and when I consider I don’t need to haul in sugar and creamer separately it makes the change in size completely negligible.

Once I opened the packet it was evident that little sugar and creamer crystals were present.  The coffee ingredients well – smelled like coffee too, despite there looking like a LOT of cream and sugar.


As I poured hot water over the solution, the aroma was really nice and the “creamer color” ratio looked about on par for someone who likes creamer in their coffee. So I figured it’d be a win for my husband and a win for me – so long as it didn’t have an overly artificial taste, or a lingering bitter taste.


I was really happy with the result! This was with 8oz of water added, so if you wanted it more diluted you could certainly add more water if the size of your cup allows. (This is my brand new Mini Bull Design “Cult Classic” Foster Beer Pot. (I obviously watch too many Shug videos, and if you recognize this pot, maybe you do too!)

The taste is wonderful. It was like having a REAL decent cup of coffee with some half-and-half and sugar added. It didn’t taste weird, or artificial, bitter or overly sweet. (Especially given the fact that coffee is #4 on the list of ingredients!!!) Conclusion: Definitely stocking up in BULK on this stuff. This has been my very favorite coffee for the Boundary Waters / SHT hiking I’ve tried to date, and I’ve tried a lot!


So – next time you’re in the market for some coffee for the BWCA, Quetico and beyond, check out the Trader Joes Instant Coffee – All Dressed Up.