The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Swift Cup Instant Review

This is an instant option for anyone that values flavor, specialty coffee, and unique origins.
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Price:  $17 List
Pros:  Impressive flavor, they offer roasts and origins that aren't usually available for instant
Cons:  Expensive, still has some of that instant small
Manufacturer:   Swift Cup
By Penney Garrett ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Aug 28, 2019
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63
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#18 of 20
  • Taste - 40% 3
  • Ease of Use - 25% 10
  • Group Cooking - 15% 4
  • Portability - 10% 10
  • Weight - 10% 10

Our Verdict

Swift Cup is instant for the true connoisseur. The company makes its product using a proprietary process that produces a truly impressive final cup. Their selection process is also highly curated, and they only choose beans from some of the best roasters in the country. Their offerings rotate, but you can expect to find things not usually seen in anywhere near the instant world like a Panamanian Geisha and beans from the Cup of Excellence. And yes, as you might have guessed, these high caliber brews come at a premium price. But if you're a coffee geek that only drinks instant once in a while, it may be worth it. They also do a subscription program for those that drink it regularly or daily (is that a thing?) which brings down the price point quite a bit.

It's debatable whether Swift Cup or First Ascent, our Top Pick for Instant, is better. First Ascent is the reigning champ and Swift Cup finished with the same score. Because of that, we left our Top Pick designation in place. Both brands are excellent and set a new precedent for what is possible in this realm. If the thought of instant remains repugnant to you no matter how elevated it is, be sure to look at the Primula Single Serve Coffee Brew Buddy, our Top Pick for Backpacking if you need to stay ultralight or the Hario V60, our Editors' Choice, if you want superior flavor from fresh beans of your choice.


Compare to Similar Products

 
This Product
Swift Cup Instant
Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Best Buy Award  
Price $17 List$7.48 at Amazon$15.99 at Amazon$6 ListCheck Price at Amazon
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Pros Impressive flavor, they offer roasts and origins that aren't usually available for instantGourmet flavor, well-conceived design, ceramic version available for home useNo filter needed, great taste, stylishLight, simple, affordable, design allows you to see level of coffee while brewingPacks down flat, produces a good cup, lightweight for non-plastic, works on top of many different-sized vessels
Cons Expensive, still has some of that instant smallSpecial shaped filters are harder to find, expensive for a plastic dripper, heavier than other brandsExpensive, requires water and more time to fully cleanNot as refined a flavor as the V60, bulkyCan collapse while brewing if not careful, certain filters hang very low due to large bottom hole
Bottom Line This is an instant option for anyone that values flavor, specialty coffee, and unique origins.The iconic pour over model in a light plastic package, delivering a consistently great flavor.The best model that does not require filters and one of the few that does not involve hot water on plastic.This is a very light and inexpensive pour over option that provides solid taste and stellar value.This collapsible stainless steel dripper is a bit on the heavy side but it folds down flat for easy travel and brews a nice cup.
Rating Categories Swift Cup Instant Hario V60 Plastic Dripper Paperless Pour Over Melitta 1-Cup Pour-Over Collapsible Coffee Drip
Taste (40%)
10
0
3
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
8
Ease Of Use (25%)
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
7
Group Cooking (15%)
10
0
4
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
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7
Portability (10%)
10
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10
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
8
Weight (10%)
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
7
Specs Swift Cup Instant Hario V60 Plastic... Paperless Pour Over Melitta 1-Cup... Collapsible Coffee...
Weight 0.2 oz for 1 packet, 2.1 oz for box of 6 dripper alone: 2.95 oz, dripper + scoop: 3.37 oz 3.3 oz 2.01 oz 4.8 oz
Brew Type Instant Pour Over Pour Over Pour Over Pour Over
Main Material n/a Hard plastic Stainless steel Hard plastic Stainless steel
Filter needed? No Yes No Yes Yes
Notable Features Instant Cone shape, large hole, ribs along side No filter pour over Can see cup without lifting dripper Collasible cone filter
Notes Collaboration with specialty craft roasters makes this an impressive and unique instant option Makes strong, smooth coffee Requires some water to clean between uses Doesn't brew as well as the Hario dripper Folds down flat for easier transport than most other cone drippers

Our Analysis and Test Results

Are you the type to scope the internet for the latest and greatest specialty roaster or the most trendy single origin? Do you, however, still need some instant for a big climbing objective or a rough travel day? Don't fret, Swift Cup is here to help! Gone are the days of all instant coffee tasting like liquid chemicals and garbage. This specialty instant brand, though not cheap, is downright decent. Actually, it's better than decent — dare we say good? I think we dare!

Performance Comparison


Swift Cup takes a ton of pride in their process and the beans they choose and it was evident in our cup.
Swift Cup takes a ton of pride in their process and the beans they choose and it was evident in our cup.

Brew Features


Nothing to it: find a cup, rip open a packet, pour it in, add water. The water can even be cold if a stove is not available or too much effort.

The great thing about instant is you don't need to budget any additional time or resources. All you need is a vessel and water. You don't even really have to be awake.
The great thing about instant is you don't need to budget any additional time or resources. All you need is a vessel and water. You don't even really have to be awake.

Taste


In the process of tasting many brands of instant, we've had some terrible things. Cups of Joe that offended our mouths and, quite frankly, hurt our feelings. We are happy to report that this is not one of them! There is noticeably less of that distinctive chemical smell with Swift Cup, especially after water is added, and the final flavor is pleasant and palatable.

Our brewed up Swift Cup  ready to get our day off on the right foot.
Our brewed up Swift Cup, ready to get our day off on the right foot.

Ease of Use


If you can't figure out how to make instant coffee, you probably shouldn't be alone in the wilderness.

Not sure if anyone has ever been confused about the process of making instant  but just in case the Swift Cup package has a handy diagram!
Not sure if anyone has ever been confused about the process of making instant, but just in case the Swift Cup package has a handy diagram!

Group Cooking


This is probably not a smart choice for a group. Sure, you can always bring as many packets as you have people, but the premium price on this product means you'll be spending a pretty penny to do so. If it's a special group and you're not away for that many days, it might be justifiable, but otherwise, there are better options available.

Portability


This is the most portable coffee option there is! No filters or beans needed, just your packets, a cup, and water. If you're planning to be high on a mountain or backpacking for miles but don't want to sacrifice all the flavor of your typical coffee ritual, the well-curated and unique selection of Swift Cup is a solid choice.

Ditch the box and just bring however many packets you need - they are so light you won't even notice them in your bag.
Ditch the box and just bring however many packets you need - they are so light you won't even notice them in your bag.

Weight


At 0.2 ounces for one packet and 2.1 ounces for a box of 6, weight is the place where instant is king. Many outdoor enthusiasts that need to count every gram in their bag have also, in the past, had to sacrifice every ounce of flavor. But with a growing interest in upping the bar across all aspects of specialty coffee, there's also a rise in small-batch craft instant options that won't make your taste buds want to cry just for the sake of caffeination.

It doesn't get any lighter or easier than instant.
It doesn't get any lighter or easier than instant.

Value


This is not your bargain instant. The company sources high-quality beans from specialty roasters and it shows on the price tag. Prices only go up from the variety we spotlight in this review. If you drink instant in abundance and often, this probably isn't a smart choice unless you have lots of expendable income. But if you partake just once in a while for specific adventures, then treat yourself right and get something like this that won't make you cringe.

Conclusion


Swift Cup is for the true coffee lover. The company puts an incredible amount of detail and attention into the coffees they choose to make into instant, and it shows in the cup. While the price tag on these premium packets is considerably higher than most other brands, for the right person, it will be worth it. Convenience and speed don't always have to mean poor quality — nor should they. If you need some instant coffee for your next adventure but value flavor and integrity, this is a smart choice.

Swift Cup and  our Top Pick for Instant  First Ascent going head-to-head. Honestly  they are on par with each other  depending on the blend and origin that you choose.
Swift Cup and, our Top Pick for Instant, First Ascent going head-to-head. Honestly, they are on par with each other, depending on the blend and origin that you choose.


Penney Garrett