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A few months ago, Sudden Coffee reached out to sponsor a post and sent me a care package for review. This was really great timing as a few days after I received my samples, I was off to the hospital with my wife for the birth of our fourth child.
I was able to put this fancy instant coffee through the paces (and to good use) as I spent some time in places where having a good cup of coffee usually means bringing an Aeropress or American Press, a grinder, coffee and maybe even a hot water source.
Overview of Sudden Coffee
Since 2015, Sudden Coffee has been leading the charge to change the way the craft coffee industry and it’s consumers view instant coffee.
Instant coffee has a pretty poor reputation in the industry. The stigma goes back to days of mass produced, burnt and processed instant coffee made from the cheapest components manufacturers could procure (this instant coffee still exists today). Sudden Coffee is not like these traditional instant coffees, they take a very different approach.
Sudden Coffee is made from single-origin, quality coffee. The process that they use is proprietary and not readily available information but it is distinctly different from traditional methods. It is engineered to capture the qualities of a deliciously crafted manually brewed cup of coffee in a convenient drink-anywhere form. The shelf life is reported at greater than six months— you really can’t beat that.
The coffee selections change over every quarter and Sudden Coffee currently offers a light and a medium roast in packs of 8 and 48 for a single purchase. If you sign up for a subscription, the prices are 20 percent lower and you get more options: an 8 cup plan, a 16 cup plan and 24 cup pouch plan (the pouch plan is a non-dosed option which features a bag of 24 servings you scoop out yourself).
Sudden Coffee Field Test Report
I really enjoyed the versatility of Sudden Coffee.
I was able to throw a couple in my work bag for a quick and easy pick-me-up on overnight shifts. I made coffee early in the morning without a peep from my Baratza Virtuoso (while my beloved Virt provides great service as a grinder, it can on occasion sound the alarm clock for the youngins).
As I mentioned, Sudden Coffee came in very handy during my 24 hour stint at the hospital—a great cup of coffee was only 8 ounces of hot water away (and I didn’t even need that as it can also be mixed with cold water or milk).
There were a couple days after we brought the baby home where poor planning resulted in a coffee shortage. I wished I had stashed away a few vials of Sudden Coffee as we had to “make do” until reinforcements arrived.
I found that really the only thing you need besides the actual coffee and water (and a mug) was something to stir it up with. It doesn’t take much of a stir but a simple dump and swirl method results in a stratified cup that is less than it’s best (shaking in a sealed container would also be fine).
I also found that the water you use will make a difference (of course). While you don’t necessarily have to be super concerned with water chemistry like coffee brewing water, if there is something you don’t like about the water, you will still taste it in the coffee.
How did it taste?
The coffee I sampled was their light roast option, a Peru, Rayos Del Sol roasted by Intelligensia.
It is hard to compare the coffee without having a companion set of the same coffee in whole bean form. It is possible that characteristics I noticed were singular to the coffee instead of the process. That being said, I thought it tasted really good. It was very similar to a cup of coffee you would expect from a pour-over at home or a cup of coffee from a third wave coffee shop.
If I focused on the coffee and dissected it, I found it to have a little bit of a different mouth feel than my normal morning V60. It felt slightly less heavy and, for lack of a better word, drier. There was a touch of viscosity absent.
I would be interested in doing a triangle test between one Sudden Coffee and two V60’s and see if I could pick out the odd one. It would even be interesting to do a blind flight of coffees brewed different ways and see if I could pick out the instant. Perhaps that will be the subject of a future blog post (I have a hunch that I would have a really hard time picking out the Sudden Coffee from the bunch).
The bottom line is—Sudden Coffee is quite good and worth a try.
The reason that I have a blog about brewing coffee manually is because I enjoy that process of making a cup of coffee slowly by hand. When making Sudden Coffee, I missed the process and the aspect of having total control over the brewing process, tweaking the variables and finding a way to brew a coffee that tastes exactly how I enjoy it. Let’s be honest, I also missed the thrill that comes from brewing an excellent cup of coffee in a strange environment.
I have to admit that Sudden Coffee is pretty darn amazing (and pretty darn convenient). I wonder how long it would take me to go through that 48 pack? I’m guessing I would make short work of it— the coffee is good and the process is oh-so-temptingly convenient.
Besides my romanticized view on brewing coffee manually, the biggest drawbacks of Sudden Coffee are the price and the lack of variety (they change coffee every quarter).
If you are used to buying a 12 ounce bags of third wave coffee, you may get a bit of sticker shock. When taken in context, the subscriptions are fairly reasonable though (depending on your plan between $2.75 and $1.75 a dose). Even three dollars a cup is not bad if you are in the habit of buying mediocre 2-3 dollar coffee from your cafeteria or local second wave shop.
For economy, I would recommend grabbing a 24 cup pouch plan at $1.75 a dose. You can even choose a long renewal period (as long as six months). If you are curious to test it out, I would recommend their $3.00 trial program (you will need to sign up for a subscription to get the trial but can cancel any time).
The possibilities are endless with a coffee that is this portable. It changes the coffee outside game if you want to go minimal. If you are spending three dollars a day on to-go coffee on your way to work or your lunch break, Sudden Coffee is the real sweet spot for you.
Since Sudden has long shelf life, it is a great idea to get some to have around for “coffee emergencies.” We all run out of coffee or find ourselves in a situation where all the coffee shops are closed and we need a cup (this product pairs great with a simple stainless steel milk pitcher and an immersion heater). It is great for traveling and camping when you don’t want the trip to revolve around finding and making coffee (I heard some people are like that).
No matter how into manual brewing you are, sometimes you just want your coffee to be easy and good. There is something to be said for a cup of coffee that comes “pre-dialed in.” You don’t have to worry about extraction, water temp and brew recipes. Essentially, one of the best baristas in the world is curating a coffee for you, overseeing it’s brewing and shipping it to you for you to experience and enjoy.
Sudden Coffee is a great change of pace and worth checking out (especially the 2 dose $3 trial). I will not be turning in my manual brewing gear and going all instant but I will be probably get a pack of vials (or a pouch) to keep around.
If you give Sudden Coffee a try, come back here and let me know what you think in the comments below.