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18 Feb 2022

How much money can you save by swapping to instant coffee?

We compare coffee shop prices with the cost of everyday instant to reveal how switching can massively cut your caffeine costs
Buying a takeaway coffee

For many a big cup of coffee is an established way to kickstart the day, but if you're regularly opting for a takeaway version, it's likely to be costing you a small fortune.

In fact, if you buy a medium americano from a high street coffee chain every day for a year it will typically set you back around £1,000.

With living costs on the rise, it's a good time to take stock of small daily costs such as this that can really add up, and look for opportunities to switch up your routine and save money.

If you're horrified at the thought of compromising on coffee, you might be surprised by the quality of some of the best instant coffees. The range of options has really expanded in recent years, enough to even impress our coffee expert Giles Hilton when he tried a selection for us in March 2021.

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Instant coffee vs coffee shop prices

We calculated how much it would cost to buy a medium americano every day for a year from three of the biggest coffee shop chains in the country, and compared it to the price of a daily cup of leading instant coffee, Nescafe Original.

Instant coffee costs vs major coffee chains:

  • 1 x mug of Nescafe Original instant coffee = £14.60 per year
  • 1 x Starbucks coffee = £1058.50 per year
  • 1 x Costa Coffee = £1040.25 per year
  • 1 x Caffe Nero coffee = £967.65 per year*

Save £1000+ a year by swapping to instant

By swapping your daily takeaway coffee for instant you could save yourself as much as £1043.90 a year (versus Starbucks).

Depending on your coffee of choice, you could see even bigger savings. If you're more of a latte person, yearly takeaway costs hit around £1,120 a year - or nearly £1,300 for speciality options.

By contrast, the cheapest instant coffee we tested was from Aldi, costing just 70p per 100g - which means your yearly spend could be as little as £2.52. But even the most luxurious instant coffee will still deliver serious savings versus shop-bought brews.

How much you'll save also depends on where you live, as chains tend to vary their prices across the UK. We've used London coffee shop prices - typically the most expensive region. Wherever you live though, it's clear there are substantial savings to be made.

Ready to make the swap? See our guide to the best instant coffee to find out which brand was rated best for taste.

We've also tested gold blend instant coffees and house blend ground coffee, if homemade filter coffee is as far as you're willing to compromise.

*Coffee shop prices based on a medium americano in London stores, excluding any loyalty offers. Instant coffee price based on 365 servings of Nescafe Original instant coffee at typical price of £4.50 per 250g jar, using recommended serving size (one rounded teaspoon weighing 1.8g for a 250ml cup of coffee, which equates to 55.5 servings per 100g).

Best cafetieres and french presses - make the perfect cup of coffee at home with our top coffee pots

Will I get less caffeine if I switch to instant coffee?

Pouring an espresso

If you're worried about getting a less effective caffeine hit by switching to instant, you needn't be.

In fact, per serving a 30ml espresso shot actually has around the same amount of caffeine as your regular 250ml cup of instant coffee (65mg).

If you like it super strong, consider filter coffee - a 250ml cup of freshly ground filter coffee contains around 100mg of caffeine, making it one of the strongest coffees per serving. But it will cost you a little more per cup.

See which filter coffee was rated highest by coffee fans in our blind taste test - and the best cheap ground coffee options at the supermarket - in our ground coffee reviews.

Choosing the best instant coffee

Woman making an instant coffee

We asked a panel of 66 coffee-lovers to blind-taste nine supermarket own-label regular instant coffees alongside big-brand offerings from Nescafe and Kenco.

Just one coffee impressed our tasters enough to be named a Best Buy, but we also found a great-value instant that wasn't far off on flavour and cost less than half the price.

See our full round-up of the best instant coffee for our top picks and tips on getting the best price. Alternatively, check out our best gold instant coffee blendif you prefer something a little richer.