Reviews You Can Rely On

Swift Cup Instant Review

This is an instant option for anyone that values flavor, specialty coffee, and unique origins
gearlab tested logo
swift cup instant camping coffee review
Credit: Swift Cup
Price:  $17 List
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Manufacturer:   Swift Cup
By Penney Garrett ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Aug 28, 2019
  • Taste - 40% 3.0
  • Ease of Use - 25% 10.0
  • Group Cooking - 15% 4.0
  • Portability - 10% 10.0
  • Weight - 10% 10.0

Our Verdict

Swift Cup is instant for the true connoisseur. The company makes its product using a proprietary process that produces a truly impressive final cup. Their selection process is also highly curated, and they only choose beans from some of the best roasters in the country. Their offerings rotate, but you can expect to find things not usually seen in anywhere near the instant world like a Panamanian Geisha and beans from the Cup of Excellence. And yes, as you might have guessed, these high caliber brews come at a premium price. But if you're a coffee geek that only drinks instant once in a while, it may be worth it. They also do a subscription program for those that drink it regularly or daily (is that a thing?) which brings down the price point quite a bit.
Impressive flavor
They offer roasts and origins that aren't usually available for instant
Still has some of that instant small
It's debatable whether Swift Cup or First Ascent, our Top Pick for Instant, is better. First Ascent is the reigning champ and Swift Cup finished with the same score. Because of that, we left our Top Pick designation in place. Both brands are excellent and set a new precedent for what is possible in this realm. If the thought of instant remains repugnant to you no matter how elevated it is, be sure to look at the Primula Coffee Brew Buddy, our Top Pick for Backpacking if you need to stay ultralight or the Hario V60, our Editors' Choice, if you want superior flavor from fresh beans of your choice.

Our Analysis and Test Results

Are you the type to scope the internet for the latest and greatest specialty roaster or the most trendy single origin? Do you, however, still need some instant for a big climbing objective or a rough travel day? Don't fret, Swift Cup is here to help! Gone are the days of all instant coffee tasting like liquid chemicals and garbage. This specialty instant brand, though not cheap, is downright decent. Actually, it's better than decent — dare we say good? I think we dare!

Performance Comparison

swift cup instant camping coffee review - swift cup takes a ton of pride in their process and the beans they...
Swift Cup takes a ton of pride in their process and the beans they choose and it was evident in our cup.
Credit: Penney Garrett

Brew Features

Nothing to it: find a cup, rip open a packet, pour it in, add water. The water can even be cold if a stove is not available or too much effort.

swift cup instant camping coffee review - the great thing about instant is you don't need to budget any...
The great thing about instant is you don't need to budget any additional time or resources. All you need is a vessel and water. You don't even really have to be awake.
Credit: Penney Garrett


In the process of tasting many brands of instant, we've had some terrible things. Cups of Joe that offended our mouths and, quite frankly, hurt our feelings. We are happy to report that this is not one of them! There is noticeably less of that distinctive chemical smell with Swift Cup, especially after water is added, and the final flavor is pleasant and palatable.

swift cup instant camping coffee review - our brewed up swift cup, ready to get our day off on the right foot.
Our brewed up Swift Cup, ready to get our day off on the right foot.
Credit: Penney Garrett

Ease of Use

If you can't figure out how to make instant coffee, you probably shouldn't be alone in the wilderness.

swift cup instant camping coffee review - not sure if anyone has ever been confused about the process of...
Not sure if anyone has ever been confused about the process of making instant, but just in case the Swift Cup package has a handy diagram!
Credit: Penney Garrett

Group Cooking

This is probably not a smart choice for a group. Sure, you can always bring as many packets as you have people, but the premium price on this product means you'll be spending a pretty penny to do so. If it's a special group and you're not away for that many days, it might be justifiable, but otherwise, there are better options available.


This is the most portable coffee option there is! No filters or beans needed, just your packets, a cup, and water. If you're planning to be high on a mountain or backpacking for miles but don't want to sacrifice all the flavor of your typical coffee ritual, the well-curated and unique selection of Swift Cup is a solid choice.

swift cup instant camping coffee review - ditch the box and just bring however many packets you need - they...
Ditch the box and just bring however many packets you need - they are so light you won't even notice them in your bag.
Credit: Penney Garrett


At 0.2 ounces for one packet and 2.1 ounces for a box of 6, weight is the place where instant is king. Many outdoor enthusiasts that need to count every gram in their bag have also, in the past, had to sacrifice every ounce of flavor. But with a growing interest in upping the bar across all aspects of specialty coffee, there's also a rise in small-batch craft instant options that won't make your taste buds want to cry just for the sake of caffeination.

swift cup instant camping coffee review - it doesn't get any lighter or easier than instant.
It doesn't get any lighter or easier than instant.
Credit: Penney Garrett


This is not your bargain instant. The company sources high-quality beans from specialty roasters and it shows on the price tag. Prices only go up from the variety we spotlight in this review. If you drink instant in abundance and often, this probably isn't a smart choice unless you have lots of expendable income. But if you partake just once in a while for specific adventures, then treat yourself right and get something like this that won't make you cringe.


Swift Cup is for the true coffee lover. The company puts an incredible amount of detail and attention into the coffees they choose to make into instant, and it shows in the cup. While the price tag on these premium packets is considerably higher than most other brands, for the right person, it will be worth it. Convenience and speed don't always have to mean poor quality — nor should they. If you need some instant coffee for your next adventure but value flavor and integrity, this is a smart choice.

swift cup instant camping coffee review - swift cup and, our top pick for instant, first ascent going...
Swift Cup and, our Top Pick for Instant, First Ascent going head-to-head. Honestly, they are on par with each other, depending on the blend and origin that you choose.
Credit: Penney Garrett

Penney Garrett

Ad-free. Influence-free. Powered by Testing.

GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.

Learn More