I have been on a quest for good instant coffee since arriving in China last weekend. I became somewhat addicted to Nescafe during my 6-week stay in Kathmandu, Nepal, which lasted from just after Christmas to the first week of February. Up until about a few months before leaving the states, I would have never even considered drinking instant coffee. But at some point I tried the Starbucks "Via" instant coffee and thought it was good enough in a pinch, which meant I started drinking it every morning when I got to work. But at home, I always bought and brewed fancy froo froo coffee beans, whatever that means.
So in Nepal, when you ask for a pot of coffee, they bring you Nescafe. Hey, whatever, it was good. Then it was great. Then I was addicted. Add to that a healthy dose of Nepali sugar and Nepali milk, and wham, no turning back.
I was sure to buy some Nepali sugar and powdered milk (and Tokla brand tea and masala spices for making Nepali masala tea) before I left for China. I arrived in China and went to find some Nescafe at the market. I found Nescafe, but all words on the box other than "Nescafe" were in Chinese. And on the front of the box there was a big "1:2" ... wha? So I bought a box of Nescafe and came back to my apartment to make some. I opened one of the lil pouches in the box and it looked awfully funny. It looked like a bunch of powdered milk or creamer with tiny brown flecks mixed into it. Were those flecks the actual coffee?! Oh no no no, I don't think so Nescafe! I boiled some water so I could taste test it, seeing how I had already opened it and there was no returning it to the store.
Sure enough, it tasted like...actually I don't know what it tasted like. It's not unpleasant, but it certainly isn't coffee. And it most certainly doesn't provide a sufficient caffeine buzz. Big fail.
So I went to another market to search for real instant coffee. None of this powdered-whatever business. I bought a tin of instant coffee, but again, most of the words were in Chinese, so it was another gamble. The only words in English were "Instant Coffee" and this time there was no "1:2" which I was now convinced was the source of the problem. Was that supposed to mean 1 part coffee, 2 parts mystery powder? Seemed like the case.
I came home and opened the tin, and once again I was severely disappointed. This time there seemed to be even fewer brown specks. And once again I boiled some water to do a taste test. Yep, same results. No real coffee taste, no real caffeine buzz. So sad.
I have gone to the market a couple of more times in hopes of finding real instant coffee, with no additives. Here's what I have so far...
Today I bought a tin that was all Chinese except for a "3:1" on the front. I sure hope this means 3 parts coffee, 1 part mystery powder! But I got it home and this tin doesn't have a simple peel back cover. I need a can opener and my apartment didn't come with one. Dangit! Back to the market.
I even resorted to buying the canned and bottled Nescafe to see if it packs a punch. So far, a big thumbs up to the canned stuff. Finally, I felt a teensie weensie caffeine buzz. Ahhhhhhh...