Sudden Coffee Review: Instant Coffee Done Right?

I love coffee, I love the taste and I love the effects of caffeine. I’m an addict okay! That means I need coffee wherever I go, except for during the few times a year when I’ll do a coffee “deload” and take a break, and trust me it’s not easy.

Since I like coffee all the time I’ve explored a fair amount of instant coffee options for when I go backpacking, on road trips, or even if I’m in a rush in the morning and only have time to turn on the kettle.

sudden coffee reveiw

In this post I’ll be reviewing a new player in the market, Sudden Coffee makes an instant coffee “you’ll actually want to drink” says their homepage. I made a cup and it WAS enjoyable to drink – here’s my lowdown on Sudden Coffee’s instant coffee (Helvetica): 

  • Mixed easily in my cup of boiled water, although on my first cup I got some sweet swirling going on, likely from using too little water (that’s how I like it though, nice and strong you know!) Here’s a gif for your enjoyment:

swirling sudden coffee

  • It was a nice tasting coffee with the same feeling you get in your mouth from a freshly brewed pour over, you could taste the flavor all over your mouth and it had a very slight oily residue like a real pour over would – the consistency and likeness to freshly brewed coffee was magical for a cup of instant.
  • It tasted as described (I was drinking the Helvetica) chocolaty with a very very very subtle hint of orange citrusy flavor. It was a conservative cup of coffee that almost any coffee drinker would like, or wouldn’t mind in my opinion.

For me it was a step up above the top instant coffees I reviewed here in our best instant coffee review list: it beats out any StarBucks via, and the rest of the so-called “coffee” on that list. However StarBucks via SLAYS Sudden Coffee dead on the spot with their pricing. With Sudden Coffee you’re paying over-the-counter pour over price for instant coffee – this is PREMIUM instant coffee. And this makes me question Sudden Coffee a bit – let’s take a step back and analyze who drinks instant coffee:

  • Lazy people who can’t brew or don’t care to brew a proper cup of coffee, maybe they drink it for the caffeine (They DON’T care about premium coffee and likely don’t know what pour over is)
  • Backpackers, hikers, people in remote locations who don’t have the tools/resources for fresh brewed coffee (They may or may not care about premium coffee)
  • Now we get to coffee aficionados – they may drink instant coffee if they’re in a rush, or if they find one that falls within their taste desires – for example if someone made an instant coffee that rocked their socks off they’d drink that all the time. Some coffee lovers care about the preparation process but most of the time I believe it’s about trying new coffees, chasing that delicious cup and less about the preparation process – this will be the key market for Sudden.

So that third bullet point is really the niched down group that Sudden Coffee has a real chance with. They don’t have a chance with the first two groups if they don’t care about premium coffee because why would they spend up to 5x as much for coffee that to them is going to taste similar and have the same effect. They’re functional coffee drinkers and at this price point Sudden Coffee will never dominate that market.

MATHS break:

Sudden Coffee:

  • Smallest order size, 8 cups = $19 + $3 shipping = $22/month = $2.75/cup
  • Largest order size, 32 cups = $76 + $6 shipping = $82/month = $2.56/cup

StarBucks VIA (the enemy)

  • Smallest size, 8 count = $6 = $0.75/cup
  • Largets size, 50 count = $40.57 = $0.80/cup (not sure why the bulk option is more lol)

Anyhow, StarBucks is a GREAT instant coffee for the price and sure people can go cheaper but I think it crushes the functional coffee drinker market for instant and regular coffee since it tastes so decent. Here we have Sudden coffee at around 3-4x as expensive as the coffee that in my opinion targets the first two markets that I described above very well.

That leads me to my final question and the conclusion of this review: why are they being so conservative? I thought the cup tasted clean, delicious, but it was boring and did not reflect the price point based on my expectations. If they’re at a price point that can reach coffee ADDICTS chasing that new/unique/wild/exciting flavor why are their brews so safe? It’s almost like Sudden is trying to appeal to the mass market of instant coffee drinkers but there’s a large gap that needs to be bridged on price. And with their brewing method of taking specially roasted beans, having a pro prep the pour over, and then freeze drying it I don’t see it happening for a long time. AND when it does happen they may also lose that hand-made appeal because scaling the process may cause it to lose that hand-brewed touch.

So my message to Sudden Coffee is this – I love what you’re doing but be more adventurous to appeal to the coffee taste chasers, aficionados, and nerds at /r/coffee. This is your market, not the instant coffee drinker who is going to use Folgers or StarBucks via over your more expensive tube.

I like your product and I think you’ll succeed but you’re sitting on the fence between the two markets – don’t try to appeal to the people who won’t pay for your coffee. Appeal to the coffee nerds chasing something more than a morning pick-me-up, and try to get that price down without corrupting the process! Alternatively, target BOTH markets but have products as price points reflecting this. Some great solutions right here so send me some more instant!


Scott Wolowich

Note: This is a review of Helvetica I haven’t tried any other coffees they send out.

Comments 1

  1. Hey! Thanks for the post, glad you enjoyed your cup of Sudden. You totally got it with the taste, middle of the road yummy is what we were going for with our first blend. In the next month-ish we have a new Sudden blend coming out! So stay tuned…

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