How to make your instant coffee taste better

Better Taste Instant Coffee: Instant coffee powder-closeup

Hi! I’m Mrs. Wada reporting on duty.

Better Taste Instant Coffee: Mrs. Wada's regular instant coffee powder
My regular instant coffee powder.

Do you drink coffee? I hope you do, because as the title suggests, it will be all about coffee. I’ll be talking specifically about black coffee using an instant coffee powder. Last year, I learned something from one of my favorite Japanese TV shows “Tameshite Gatten” — how to make instant coffee taste better. Not by adding any thing like milk, creamer or something similar but by the way of preparing it. So, if you regularly drink coffee at home, I bet you have all the stuff we need to try this method I’m going to share.

But first, let me ask you, how do you usually prepare your coffee?

I think most of us do almost exactly the same way. Put some coffee powder to the cup, pour hot water, mix and viola!, ready to drink. Or add some sugar, milk or creamer to make it easy to drink. What if you can drink it even without adding any thing extra? Here’s the method I learned:

Preparing a good coffee with “Gatten-style”

1. Put your regular amount of coffee powder into your mug and add 1 tablespoon of water.
2. Mix well until no lumps are left.
3. Then, add hot water.

Isn’t it simple? It might take an extra time to melt the powder but to level up your usual black coffee, why not right?

Why mix coffee powder with small amount of water first?

According to the show, coffee powder contains starch just like cornstarch. Remember when using cornstarch to make your sauce thicker when cooking? We usually mix it with water first before pouring it to the soup to avoid lumps, right? It’s the same concept with coffee. Without mixing it first with a small amount of water, there might be some lumps of coffee powder left. And when you drink it, then you’ll taste the bitterness. This also applies to corn soup powder and cocoa powder.

Still not convinced? I wasn’t also at first, so I did the same experiment I saw on the show.

Regular coffee preparation versus the Gatten-style

So, I prepared two the same mugs. I prepared coffee in a usual way while on the other mug, I followed the Gatten-style.

Better taste instant coffee: Put your regular amount of instant coffee to your mug
Instant coffee powder first…
Better taste instant coffee: Mix with small amount of water first
Next, a small amount of water.

Here’s how it looks like after mixing well.
Tip: I figured out it’s a lot easier and faster to mix using a plastic spoon.

Better taste instant coffee: After mixing well
Mix, mix, mix!
Better taste instant coffee: Clear bubbles
Ta dah! Your Gatten-style instant black coffee.

See that clear bubbles? Compared to the regular preparation of instant coffee below, pictured before mixing up.

Better Taste Instant Coffee: Finished shot; regular style
Regular preparation of instant coffee

So how’s the taste then? Indeed, there really is difference. The one by Gatten-style is mild and easy to drink. There is no bitter after-taste unlike the regular one. Ever since I tried this, I’m already alright drinking coffee without adding any sugar, milk or creamer. It’s nice to enjoy coffee without extra calorie.

Try it yourself, compare the two different methods and let me know how it turned out. Enjoy your black instant coffee.

That’s it for now guys.

Grabbing a coffee in Japan


Hi, it’s Mr. Wada on duty. This time I will talk about how I normally relax and rest. Everyone needs to relieve stress from work, school, etc. I’m not an exception at all. I, myself, is neither an outdoor nor an indoor person but I spend quite some time at cafes on the weekends. So, if I’m asked to suggest places for grabbing a coffee and chilling out in Japan, it would be the following:

1. Starbucks

Well, needless to say, the world’s famous coffee chain. You can grab the same drinks and foods at any locations over the world. If you would like to feel the same as ones in your country, perhaps this is where you should go to.


2. Family restaurants

It’s like cafe version of convenience store. It’s not a name, though in general people call those places “Family restaurant” or “Fami-res” because it is popular for teens to adults. Big franchises are Jonathan, Gusto, Joyfull, Saizeria, etc. What’s good about them is they are mostly open 24 hours and offer free refill of drinks called “DRINK BAR”. It might be called differently at some stores but people in Japan would understand when you say DRINK BAR. It costs 200-400 yen. Usually, you can get discount when you order it together with food menu. The drinks that you can get are teas, coffees, juices, etc. Any of them is not super but it’s good enough for chatting with friends.

Note: In big cities like Tokyo, duration of stay is often limited like up to 2 hours. You should make sure before getting a seat.

joyfull sign


3. Tully’s, Doutor coffee shops

They are popular Japanese franchises. They are pretty much ordinary, I’d say. In the afternoon, they offer TEA SET (a drink with a dessert) at reasonable price. Drop in when you crave for sweets!Tully's drink

4. Mister Donut

It is a donut chain like Dunkin Donuts or Tim Hortons in North America. Donuts are good (Don’t trust me much about donuts. I’m not picky for donuts). I like its service for eat-in. Order a cafe latte (400yen) or coffee (300yen), then you get free refill. Feel free to ask employees for refill. You don’t need to be shy or hesitate. Just say hi and show your empty cup. They will come to you with fresh drip coffee.


5. Home

Nothing can be homier than home itself! Brew your own coffee and grab home-made stuff. I enjoy atmosphere of cafes, so I rather kick my ass up and hang out!

tea at home

There are also private cafes but because of the increase number of franchise ones, there have been less nowadays. It’s also nice to explore for your new hangouts, don’t you think?


Hmm. Better go have a sip (getting thirsty). See you around!

Starbucks Coffee Japan
Joyfull (in Japanese only)
Tully’s (in Japanese only)
Doutor (in Japanese only)
Mister Donut (in Japanese only)

Related links

5 Steps to Make Easy Homemade Tea Snacks

Coffee to go in Japan!

Exploring Starbucks Concept Stores in Japan: Kitano, Kobe