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These 3 Products Are Changing How I Drink Coffee at Home

Here's a first-hand report of the coffees that are helping me make a better and faster morning cup.

Coffee poured into a glass of ice.
Cometeer's frozen coffee is one of the products looking to make near-instant coffee delicious.

Instant coffee excels in convenience but fails in taste. While it's good for a quick fix when you needed a warm drink, you probably don't choose it for its taste. That's changing with products that deliver delicious coffee almost instantaneously. Even if you're not in a rush, these coffees will match for quality your daily cup, even if you get it from your corner coffee shop.

This isn't the instant coffee like you're picturing: dusty tasting and caked to the side of a jar. These are companies with innovative new products that, whether they're flash frozen or brewed to a super strength, makes it possible to enjoy top of the line craft coffee at home without any special equipment or training. For cost, convenience and sustainability, they're changing the way I drink coffee at home.

Even if you're not convinced after reading, we've got you covered. We've tested the best coffee makers, French presses, coffee grinders, home espresso machines and coffee subscriptions around. If you came to this coffee article for tea subscription recommendations, we've got even you covered.

Read more: Best Coffee Makers for 2022

Quality coffee made fast

Coffee, like a lot of other food and drink, has had its craft revival. Just like the proliferation of local, microbrewery beer, it's not uncommon to see coffee beans from local roasters on grocery store shelves waiting for home baristas to brew them up. Now companies are trying to take that craft experience and make it available to you in mere seconds. These companies aren't necessarily new. Some have racked up tens of thousands of reviews but the products feel fresh and exciting.

I tried three of the players in the emerging instant coffee category, each with its own specific approach: Jot, Cometeer and Steeped. I found that they all delivered a solid cup of Joe but Cometeer consistently produced the best instant coffee of the bunch. Here's how they work, differ from each other and what I thought of each one.

Andrew Blok/CNET

Jot Coffee is sort of like cold brew concentrate turned up to 10. Instead of diluting at a ratio of around one part concentrate to one part water, it takes just one tablespoon of Jot for a full 8 ounces of hot water, or a ratio of one to sixteen. Just heat your water, measure it out and stir in the concentrate. Jot says its coffee is brewed at 20 times the strength of regular coffee and encourages you to treat it like a shot of espresso. 

Jot tastes great, though I found my ideal cup required straying from the suggested recipes. For hot coffee, I used one tablespoon to 7 ounces instead of eight. For an iced latte, one tablespoon to a bit more than the recommended six ounces of milk. Jot encourages experimentation, and it's one of the product's strengths. It lends itself to fine-tuning a recipe, even in a house with diverse coffee tastes.

I tried Jot's Original, Dark and Golden Hour (the latter is no longer available). You can order enough Jot to make 14 cups of coffee for $26, or as a subscription for $19.50

Andrew Blok/CNET

Cometeer instant coffee isn't like anything I've had before and it works well. Cometeer sources coffee from respected craft roasters and freezes them in Keurig-style pods. To make Cometeer at home, you'll run the pod under warm water for a few seconds to loosen the frozen coffee inside, peel back the foil lid and melt the coffee the rest of the way in a cup of hot water. For cold beverages, melt the coffee all the way and add it to iced water or milk. It's also compatible with coffee makers that use pods.

I tried several of Cometeer's offerings and they all ranked among the best cups of coffee I've had at home and from a lot of coffee shops. While all the coffees I tried for this article were delicious, Cometeer's were consistently my favorite. With coffee from 11 different roasters on offer, it also has the most variety.

The process is also simple, though technically a bit more complicated than pouring a liquid from a bottle as you do with Jot. The pods are aluminum and recyclable, as is the box Cometeer is shipped in. Shipments come packed with dry ice on a schedule of every one, two or four weeks. You can get 32 cups of coffee for $44.

Andrew Blok/CNET

Steeped Coffee brings the convenience of a cup of tea to coffee drinkers. Simply dunk a sachet of coffee into hot water, wait 5 minutes and enjoy one of four roasts (or a decaf). Steeped Coffee is the only one of the three that sends you actual coffee beans (ground and inside large tea-bag-like filter bags) instead of something that just needs diluting. The cups I brewed at home were robust and tasty. Each of Steeped's coffees tastes a bit more roasty than the other instant coffees I tried. Each cup did have a few coffee grounds escape the bag and settle at the bottom, but it's no worse than drinking French press coffee.

Steeped says its coffees are ethically and sustainably sourced. And, while Steeped might have more packaging than others (the interior filter bag, the exterior single-serve packaging, and the bag it shipped in), none of it needs to be sent to the landfill. Almost all of it is compostable in a home composting bin and the rest (just the single-serve packaging) is commercially compostable. 

You can get a pack of five Steeped coffee bags for $10, or eight for $15. If you opt for a subscription, you can get 24 delivered weekly for about $40 (down from $45). You can set your delivery schedule from once a week to once every eight.

If you're looking to elevate your home coffee brewing routine, check out CNET's recommendations for the best coffee makers, the best espresso machines and the best coffee grinders. Learn how to clean your super-convenient Keurig and get a jump on the holiday season by checking out coffee subscriptions you can gift.