Hunt for the Holy Grail- Instant

Instant coffee (rather than filtered) is the typical go-to in Turkey if you want to drink coffee,  but not Turkish coffee.  There are three different types of instant coffee- plain,  2 in 1, and 3 in 1. The 3 in 1 contains powdered milk and sugar in the instant mix, while 2 in 1 comes without the sugar.  Personally,  we usually go for the 3 in 1 so that we don’t have to buy any creamer.  In order to be fair,  I am judging only 3 in 1 plain coffees from each brand.

Flavored coffees (like hazelnut and mocha) are also available,  as are those with foam (köpük) with types like cappuccino.  Specialty instants like these will get their own judgement after I complete a few other categories.

One of the big failings of instant coffee, in my opinion, is that they tend to be very flat rather than bold flavored,  and you can’t really smell the coffee without nearly drowning your nose in the cup.  Let’s see how these brands fair…

NESCAFE

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Nescafe is one of the most popular instant coffee brands in Turkey. Actually,  as I recall,  it is also one of the more easily procured ones in the US as well!  Let’s see how it fairs for a coffee nut:

Taste: 6/10
This coffee is sweet.  Sweet,  sweet, sweet.  Also,  there is almost no true coffee bitterness /boldness in the flavor.  Likely the creamer ratio is too high, binding up the bitter tannins from the coffee into the milk proteins. It’s not bad, but it’s not strong.

Texture: 7/10
As is a typical problem for instants, without the addition of actual creamer,  the coffee is a bit thin.

Aroma: 5/10
This coffee has almost no smell,  unless you stick your nose directly in it.

TOTAL: 6/10

Not bad at all,  but leaves room for improvement.  Likely using plain instant and adding the sugar and creamer yourself would give you better results. But this 3 in 1 really lacks in the boldness I crave,  which carries over into the aroma and taste category.

VIP

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I actually tested the 3 N 1 but all I had to take a picture of was this.

This brand is predominantly carried by BİM grocery stores.  I believe it is the store brand, but I don’t want to lie to you.  I still haven’t figured it out.  Let’s see how they did…

Taste: 8/10
This coffee has a much stronger coffee flavor than Nescafe,  and isn’t quite as sweet.  While the prior is more like a dessert,  this coffee is more like that morning cup I’m looking for

Texture: 7/10
As mentioned before… Instant coffees can’t help themselves

Aroma: 6/10
This brand is slightly stronger in aroma than Nescafe, but not by much.  You can start to smell the coffee from around 3 inches from the cup.

TOTAL: 7/10

This brand’s taste boosted it’s score, but it is still failing in typical instant coffee areas.

CAFEX

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This brand is carried by A101 grocery stores.  Much like VIP,  I believe it is a store brand.  I think the picture may have given it away… This is my favorite instant!

Taste: 9/10
This brand really nails it in taste.  It has a clear coffee boldness and a subtle sweetness /milky flavor that doesn’t over power.  The only reason I don’t give the taste a 10 is because I don’t want to jump the gun when there are brands I haven’t tried.

Texture: 8/10
Maybe it is an illusion created by the very nearly full bodied flavor, but the texture feels slightly creamier/thicker than the others.

Aroma: 9/10
You are able to smell the fullness of traditional coffee as soon as the hot water hits the powder in the cup.  The person sitting beside you will be able to tell you are drinking coffee. AGAIN,  I hesitate for a 10 because I haven’t tried all the brands yet.

TOTAL: 8.5/10

While I am hesitant to find a perfect cup in the instant category,  I did promise to judge each type of coffee alone.  This is definitely my favorite brand of instant right now!  However, there are a few brands I have been suggested that I still need to try.

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The hunt for the Holy Grail

Since I’ve come to Turkey I’ve been on the hunt for the Holy Grail.  My Holy Grail isn’t so much about the cup, but what’s in it.

I’m talking about coffee (no surprise there)!

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I thought it would be fun to share the hunt with you guys,  and maybe it’ll help other expats who are having coffee withdrawals.

So,  I’m planning on having at least 3 installments, comparing instant coffee brands,  Turkish coffee brands, and finally,  filtered coffee brands (most likely Cafe brewed,  because I’m not willing to drop the kind of money a coffee machine is here).  I didn’t think it was fair to compare different coffee types to each other,  since it is kind of an “apples to oranges”  scenario.  I will,  however, give my overall favorite across the board.  Lastly,  I want to rate the coffee on a scale from 0 to 10 based on smell,  taste, and texture.

First,  let me describe my ideal coffee.  As anyone in a predominantly coffee drinking country knows, everyone has different ideas of the perfect cup! For me, I prefer a medium roasted filtered coffee (a slight bitter taste in the back of the tongue, but not overpowering), with a slightly creamy and smooth texture from half and half.  I do like my coffee slightly sweet (two spoons of sugar in a large “American cup”) but not dessert-like.  I’m always down for additional flavorings, particularly nutty (hazelnut, almond,  pecan,  etc) and sweet (vanilla, mocha, white chocolate,  etc).

I expect the first installment will be INSTANT,  and I hope to have it ready by next week.

If anyone has any suggestions,  let me know!