Sudden Coffee Review: Instant Specialty Coffee
Website User Experience8.2/10
- High-quality Specialty Coffee
- Works as hot or cold coffee
- Can be added to milk
- Subscription required for the best prices
- Only single origin coffee
- No dark roast options
- Limited flavors/origins
- No option to buy variety packs
Instant coffee has been a huge part of the global coffee industry for a very long time, and it makes perfect sense. After all, there isn't a quicker, easier, or more convenient way to make coffee than with instant coffee.
Just add hot water, stir, and sip – it's as easy as 1-2-3!
Instant coffee comes with a major caveat though…it usually tastes pretty awful.
Granted, Starbucks' Via wasn't all that bad when it was introduced some time in the last decade, but it still wasn't really a significant improvement over the Nescafé and Folgers of the world.
But with Specialty Coffee's growing popularity over the last 5-10 years, it was only a matter of time before instant coffee got an upgrade too. I mean, who wouldn't want coffee that was convenient AND delicious?
That's right, nobody (unless, of course, you don't drink coffee).
Sudden Coffee meets these important criteria as the first instant coffee for Specialty Coffee lovers.
About Sudden Coffee
Sudden Coffee was started in San Francisco, CA by Kalle Freese (9th place winner in 2015's World Barista Championship). Kalle has been in Specialty Coffee for more than a decade, and actually had his own café in Helsinki before deciding it was time to pack up shop and get great coffee in the hands of more people.
Sudden Coffee was born from this desire to get delicious specialty coffee in anybody's hands, regardless of location or brewing equipment. Sudden Coffee is paving the way for “Third Wave Instant Coffee,” which could potentially turn into a huge industry in the near future.
About the coffee/how instant specialty coffee is made
You might be wondering how Sudden makes their instant coffee…so let me try and shed a little light on the process based on my limited understanding.
First, the Sudden team acquires single origin coffees from all over the world before having the beans roasted by several specialty coffee roasters here in the Bay Area, CA.
Then, the coffee is hand-brewed by a skilled barista before being freeze-dried, packaged, and sent to the customer's mailbox in small tubes.
At the time of this review, Sudden currently offers a light roast coffee and a medium roast coffee.
How to brew Sudden coffee
Just add the freeze-dried Sudden Coffee to your cup, followed by water, then stir to dissolve all of the coffee crystals.
You can make both hot coffee and cold coffee with Sudden Coffee, but it should be noted that the coffee crystals dissolve better with hot water than they do with cold water.
So if you'd like to make cold brew coffee with Sudden, I'd recommend adding a little bit of hot water first to more easily dissolve the coffee.
How does it taste?
I thought it tasted really good!
Miles above Starbucks' Via, which I think has way too much sugar to begin with. Sudden Coffee, by the way, contains no added sugar or sweeteners. In other words, Sudden is mostly made for black coffee lovers.
I wouldn't say that Sudden is as good as a cup of freshly (and properly) brewed Specialty Coffee, but it's very close.
If I were in a pinch or say, on an airplane, I'd be thrilled to be drinking a cup of Sudden Coffee as a substitute for a filter brew.
Dark roast fan? Too bad…
Sudden only offers their instant coffee as light and medium roasted coffee currently, and likely, for the foreseeable future.
Since the complexities of any given coffee are harder to pick up when the coffee is roasted darkly, Sudden has decided to steer clear of this roast type.
This is pretty much the way it is in Speciality Coffee these days anyways, so not much is lost here in my opinion.
But then again, I'm not a fan of dark roast coffee to begin with, so I'm probably the wrong person to ask.
When I tried Sudden it was offered as a subscription service only, meaning you technically couldn't just order a few vials to try out when you need them. Instead, you'd have to subscribe to receive the coffee on a monthly basis.
Of course, you could always cancel your subscription after the first month. Full disclosure: this is exactly what I did, and it was only because of the price.
When I tried Sudden it was being offered at $30/month for 6 vials. In other words, $5 per cup of coffee.
Yes, I suppose it's comparable to what you would pay for a cup of coffee at a Specialty Coffee shop, but considering Sudden is not quite as good as the real thing, the added convenience of instant coffee still didn't make it worth it to me to order again.
The good news is that as of 2017, you can now get 8 tubes of Sudden for $22/month, which works out to $2.75/cup.
At under $3/cup, this was a good enough price for me to finally take the plunge, at least for a little while.
Is Sudden Coffee for you?
If you love Specialty Coffee but don't want to spend the time preparing it yourself, then Sudden Coffee is definitely worth at least one try. It should be especially enticing for those who travel frequently (I'm talking to you Mile High AeroPress club members)!
Even for backpacking and camping, Sudden Coffee is an excellent option without the added bulk of beans and equipment.
If you prefer full-bodied coffee and/or darker roasts, then Sudden Coffee probably isn't for you.
I also wouldn't recommend it as an alternative to buying a freshly brewed cup of Specialty Coffee at your local roaster if you have that option. Of course, I don't think this is the purpose of Sudden Coffee to begin with. Kalle and the team are really just trying to make it easier for everyone to access Specialty Coffee, no matter their location nor their home coffee-making setup.
Tried Sudden Coffee?
If you've tried Sudden Coffee, please share your review or experience below! I'm also happy to answer questions, so feel free to leave your questions about Sudden Coffee in the comments section below.