Aroma: The smell of this cup was totally misleading. It was so mild on the nose that Lorenzo couldn't pick up any distinct aromas.
Taste: On first sip there was a heavy note of aspirin and it was espresso-level bitter, but as it cooled this coffee revealed itself to be surprisingly solid. It had everything you'd expect from a more complex coffee in terms of acidity, balance, and fluidity of flavor, but despite being a well-rounded sip it lacked the nuance of a brewed cup. Even so, Lorenzo said he would probably drink three diner mugs' worth alongside a big pancake breakfast.
The biggest surprise for Lorenzo, aside from the Starbucks outlier, was that the lowest-placed finishers were US brands and the top three coffees were marketed more towards Latin America, where instant coffee still maintains a high level of popularity.
Perhaps the disappointing quality of the bigger brands led to the rise of pod-based coffee and the eventual destruction of our planet, but it's more likely that soluble coffee simply had its instant and people have moved on. Except this guy.
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Dan Gentile is a staff writer at Thrillist. He now owns several lifetimes' worth of instant coffee. Follow him to what do I do with all this stuff at @Dannosphere.