Several years ago, I made a huge mistake when buying instant coffee at the Royal Subic store at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone (I live in Olongapo City). I always bought Nescafé Classic (and I still do), but the regular jars of it were out of stock.
The store was in a remodeling phase and the employees were moving the food products around. It was already difficult to find what I was looking for because of how the store organized things. I ended up buying a brand of instant coffee that I didn’t like at all.
I don’t know why companies make certain brands of instant coffee differently from each other, even within the same company. Whether it’s coffee powder, freeze-dried coffee, or coffee with coffee crystals, it makes no difference to me. The best brands I’ve ever consumed were those made by Folgers and Nescafé, regardless of their particular instant coffee products.
My parents drank “Taster’s Choice” for years and I drank it with them when I was at their home (I didn’t have to buy my own). It was only recently (relatively speaking) that I discovered it was a brand name owned by Nestlé and only after I noticed “Nescafé” on the label. It didn’t used to be there (kind of like when they changed the “Quik” chocolate drink to “NesQuik”). I don’t drink it now because it’s too expensive. It’s imported.
In the Philippines, Nescafé Classic is a cheap and excellent brand of coffee. What’s sold here is grown here, which makes it way less expensive than anything imported. When I shop for coffee, I shop for Nescafé Classic. If it’s not available and if I really need some instant coffee, I’ll opt to buy the Folgers coffee even though it’s usually twice as expensive.
When it comes to coffee, you can’t substitute a good brand with a generic-sounding brand. You just can’t. It will taste like crap compared to what you’re used to drinking. Even certain brand name coffees taste like crap compared to what I’m used to drinking.
One example is Maxwell House instant coffee. It just doesn’t taste good to me. I don’t know if it’s due to their manufacturing process or if they just use inferior coffee beans. Whatever the case, I don’t like it.
On that fateful shopping trip, I couldn’t find any of the Nescafé or Folgers instant coffee anywhere. I ended up buying an offbeat brand called “Sunny Select”. It was a big mistake. That instant coffee tasted like I boiled my socks and tried to make coffee out of it, it was that bad. Sunny Select makes a lot of food products and a lot of it’s good, but they’re failures when it comes to coffee. I didn’t buy this brand because it was cheap coffee, I bought it because it was all that I could find that wasn’t Maxwell House.
I don’t know if Nestlé is doing this in other countries and I guess it doesn’t matter. Nescafé instant coffee is no longer being sold in jars (unless it’s still in stock in some off-the-wall places) in the Philippines. It’s being sold in resealable packets when it’s a lot and small sachets when it isn’t.
When it was being sold in jars, a 200 milligram jar would cost me about 200 pesos. If I remember correctly from the last shopping run I made, the 200 milligram resealable packet is under 175 pesos. I never realized (and why should I?) glass jars added that much to the cost.
I have one Nescafé Classic jar that holds 200 milligrams in my kitchen cabinet. When it’s empty, I refill it with the instant coffee from a 200 milligram packet. It’s easier to keep things tidy than with packets that tend to get spilled by “other” people.
I have an ultra-cheap automatic drip coffee maker sitting on the counter in my kitchen and I rarely use it. I plan to eventually replace it with a better coffee maker now that there are two malls local to me (opened in 2012).
In my past experiences with automatic drip coffee brands, several brands always topped my list. In the case of automatic drip coffee, Maxwell House is actually very good.
Folgers is another good automatic drip coffee. You really can’t go wrong with Folgers. There are some other brands that I won’t touch with a ten-foot pole and the reason is they aren’t 100 percent coffee. Some brands include things like chicory and I want my coffee pure. I like the taste of coffee, not that other nonsense they use to dilute the flavor. When they do something like that, it tells me their coffee beans are inferior to start with.
I learned a lesson about instant coffee the hard way: Never settle for second best. If I ever have to settle for second best again, I’ll do without having any coffee at all (even it’s for more than a month).
By: RT Cunningham
November 16, 2016
Food and Drink
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