This page may contain affiliate links. I receive a small commission at no cost to you when you make a purchase using my link. This post is about the BEST Korean Instant Coffees That You MUST Try!
Korean coffee culture is a BIG DEAL in Korea. Koreans absolutely LOVE their coffee and their instant coffee!
South Korea is one of the largest consumers of instant coffee in the world, and there are many delicious and quality Korean coffee brands available for Koreans to enjoy. And now, many of us in the United States have the opportunity to try these instant coffees as well.
So I'm excited to share with you some of the BEST Korean Instant coffee brands that you MUST try!
But first, let me tell you a little bit about the interesting history of instant coffee in South Korea.
How Coffee Was Introduced To Korea
Koreans can thank King Gojong, who was the King when Japan was invading Korea. King Gojong went into hiding at the Russian Legation in Seoul during this invasion. He first tried coffee there, and fell in love with it! He loved it so much that after he returned to one of his palaces, Deoksugung, he actually built a western style building called Jeonggwanheon, where he could enjoy his coffee daily.
Somewhere around 1923 the first dabang (traditional cafe) opened in the Sontag Hotel by Antoinette Sontag. Ms. Sontag was the sister-in-law of one of the Russian officials, and this dabang opened to serve foreign diplomats. Other dabangs started to open, and began to serve coffee, which was very expensive at this time, to Korea's elites and upper classes.
It was during the Korean War, which began in 1950, that instant coffee was introduced to Koreans. US soldiers war rations included instant coffee, and as this was inexpensive, coffee became accessible to many more people in Korea, and not just the cultural elites.
Now I'll go into how instant coffee became so popular in South Korea.
A Brief History Of Instant Coffee In South Korea
In the 70's, Dongsuh Food (who makes the Maxim brand), introduced their 3-in-1 instant coffee mix sticks which combined the perfect ratio of coffee, sugar, and cream, to the Korean market. This product really transformed the coffee market in Korea, and the popularity of instant coffee exploded!
The instant coffee mix sticks were inexpensive, convenient, portable, and delicious. They also provided a very quick way of making coffee, and Koreans appreciate this as per their "bally bally" (which means "hurry hurry") culture.
Since the 70's, many other companies such as Namyang and Maxpresso introduced their own instant coffee mixes to the coffee industry. Korean coffee lovers have a wonderful variety of instant coffees to select from. And be assured, that they are quality coffees as well!
Instant Korean coffee mixes can be found almost everywhere in Korea. You can find them in almost any business, home or school. They are sold in convenience stores, grocery stores, and even at the train station.
Additionally, in the 90's, hot and cold water dispensers were introduced to many businesses and offices. So making that cup of instant coffee to enjoy was that much easier. Coffee vending machines also helped to increase the instant coffee market as well.
So now I will tell you about some Korean instant coffees that you MUST try!
No discussion of Korean instant coffees can be had without including Maxim, made by Dongsuh Food. This is the most famous Korean coffee brand. Their most popular coffee mix is the Maxim Mocha Gold Mild.
The Maxim Mocha Gold Mild's yellow instant coffee sticks are instantly recognizable. These Maxim coffee sticks contain instant coffee, cream, and a good amount of sugar.
All you need for a delicious cup of coffee is hot water and the Mocha Gold Mild Mix. The taste is mild and smooth, and has a lovely coffee aroma.
Maxim also offers the following different flavors of instant coffee mixes:
- Maxim White Gold Coffee Mix (also contains sugar and non-fat milk)
- Maxim Original Coffee Mix
- Maxim Decaffeinated Coffee Mix
- Arabica Instant Coffee Mix
Whether you choose the Mocha Gold Mild or one of the other varieties, you can't go wrong with Maxim!
How Much Water To Add To Maxim Coffee Sticks
Please be aware that the recommended amount of water to add to one Maxim coffee stick is somewhere between ⅓ cup - ½ cup. These coffee sticks were meant to be added to small cups such as small styrofoam cups. So if you are accustomed to large cups of coffee, you'll want to consider adding more than one coffee stick to your large cup.
Kanu instant coffee is owned by the same company as Maxim, however it is considered a different brand.
This brand was developed to give coffee lovers a more quality café style coffee experience. Kanu is considered a more premium brand than Maxim, and it also features a more premium (higher) price than Maxim.
With all Kanu Instant coffees, please refer to the packaging for the recommended amount of water to use with one coffee stick for best results.
First I will discuss Kanu Signature instant coffee. Kanu Signature coffee is also different to Maxim in that it is black coffee, without any sugar or cream.
Kanu recommends adding 200 ml of water, approximately 0.85 cups, to the contents of one of their Signature coffee sticks. You can enjoy this coffee either hot or iced.
I don't see that Amazon sells the Kanu Signature range at the time of this writing. You can purchase them at Yamibuy if interested or look for them at your local Korean market.
Kanu also has a Mini range. These coffee sticks are smaller than the Signature range of coffees.
Some of the Mini range varieties are:
- Kanu Mini Dark Roasted Coffee
- Kanu Mini Mild Roasted Coffee
- Kanu Mini Dark Roasted Instant Americano Coffee
- Kanu Mini Columbia Mild Roast Americano Coffee
- Kanu Mini Columbia Dark Roast Americano Coffee
- Kanu Mini Decaffeinated Coffee
Kanu Flavored Varieties
There are also flavored varieties in the Kanu coffee line. Some of these other flavors are:
- Kanu Mint Choco Latte
- Kanu Tiramisu Latte
- Kanu Latte
- Kanu Double Shot Lotte
- Kanu Ice Latte Coffee
- Kanu Vanilla Latte
- Kanu Dolce Latte
- Kanu Decaffeinated Latte
I've linked to these coffees (affiliate links) to purchase on Amazon if you are interested. Amazon also has a variety pack containing Maxim KANU Tiramisu Latte 8 Sticks, Vanilla Latte 8 Sticks, Dolce Latte 8 Sticks, Mint Choco Latte 8 Sticks which you can purchase here.
It's clear that there's a Kanu for everyone!
The Kanu Coffee packaging is also really sleek and beautiful. People in Korea often give these beautiful boxes of Kanu coffee as gifts. I think we should adopt that here in the US!
Maxpresso is 100% freeze dried coffee. The freeze drying process helps to preserve the flavor and aroma of the coffee crystals, which provides a higher quality of instant coffee. It is an espresso with non-dairy coconut oil creamer and sugar.
This instant coffee is different to other instant coffees in that it requires less hot water than other coffee sticks due to its Espresso concept. Maxpresso recommends 2.5 oz (approximately ⅓ cup) of hot water, which is less than the amount of water used with the other instant coffees.
You can enjoy this medium roast coffee either iced or hot.
Namyang French Café
Namyang French Café is another Korean instant coffee brand you should consider trying. It is not as well known as Maxim coffee, but is similar to it and is a great quality Korean instant coffee.
Two French Café instant coffees to consider trying are:
Both of these coffees contain coffee, non-fat milk as the creamer, and sugar. Namyang markets their French Café instant coffees as healthier than Maxim because they use non-fat milk creamers instead of sodium caseinate (or casein), which some of the Maxim Instant Coffees contain. You can read more about this in the 2012 article "Instant Coffee Fight Gets Ugly" from KoreaTimes.co.kr.
The recommended amount of water to add to one Namyang French Café coffee stick is somewhere between ⅓ cup - ½ cup.
This coffee is a wonderful coffee to try for those who like smooth, mild and sweet coffee.
Ediya Coffee is a franchise that has more coffee stores than any other company in Korea. As of August 2022, Ediya had more than 3,000 stores in South Korea, more than Starbucks.
Those of us in the United States can get a taste of this awesome coffee with Ediya instant coffee sticks.
Some of the Ediya Instant Coffee mixes that you can try are:
- Ediya Coffee Beanist Original
- Ediya Coffee Beanist Mild Americano
- EDIYA Special Gold Blend Rich Crema 3in1 Coffee Mix
- EDIYA Toffee Nut Latte
- EDIYA Chocolate Chip Latte
- EDIYA Special Mocha Blend 3in1 Coffee Mix
So Ediya Instant Coffee is a great quality Korean instant coffee with a good variety of flavors for you to choose from.
Please check the packaging for confirmation, but generally it's recommended to use one stick of Ediya coffee with ⅓ cup - ½ cup of hot water.
There are so many quality Korean instant coffees that it's difficult to select just one! Generally though, the Maxim Mocha Gold Mild is the most popular Korean instant coffee, and a solid choice for those who like mild, creamy, and sweet coffee.
Koreans love their instant coffee and much of the Korean population drinks it! There are many quality Korean instant coffee brands which are delicious, inexpensive, and portable. These instant coffee drinks are also easy to make which Koreans appreciate.
The favorite coffee of Koreans is the Americano, and iced Americanos!
Enjoy A Delicious Cup Of Korean Instant Coffee Today!
There are so many delicious and quality Korean instant coffees to choose from we are definitely spoilt for choice!
If you haven't tried any of these coffees, it's definitely time to take the plunge! Try looking for these at your local Korean or Asian market. I've also linked to Amazon and Yamibuy if you'd like to buy these coffees online.
Be warned though...once you take the plunge you may develop a daily habit of indulging in these instant coffees, just like many Koreans!
Some Other Posts About Korean Foods That You May Enjoy!
- All About Samyang 2X Spicy Buldak Ramen!
- How To Cook Korean Short Ribs In The Oven
- Korean Fried Chicken (Yangnyeom Dak)
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