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Ike Barinholtz Led Me to an Instant Coffee That Tastes Better Than Starbucks

I am a person who has no patience with finicky coffee-making rituals and no desire to clutter my tiny kitchen with coffee-related tools and accessories.

Mount Hagen Instant Coffee
Mount Hagen

Who knew that the actor Ike Barinholtz would turn out to be my lifestyle guru? Not me! Life takes weird turns sometimes. This past spring, Barinholtz (Google him; you’ll be like “Oh, right”) did a Grub Street Diet where he detailed his eating habits. I found his diet reasonably aspirational and was intrigued by frequent mentions of the Mount Hagen organic instant coffee with which he starts the day.

Barinholtz displayed self-awareness about the popular consensus on instant coffee: “I know coffee purists dislike that, but we’re living in a golden era of instant coffee,” he said. Of his preferred brand, he promised that it is “high-quality and rich.” Hey, that’s exactly what I want in a coffee! More important, I am a person who has no patience with finicky coffee-making rituals and no desire to clutter my tiny kitchen with coffee-related tools and accessories. If making coffee at home takes more than one minute, I simply won’t do it. But I also dislike buying coffee, because I am congenitally thrifty. So, I ordered a canister of the Ike Barinholtz-endorsed coffee.

Cut to six months later. These arid little crystals have brought me so much joy! I feel like an astronaut when I prepare my daily cup, stirring a scant spoonful into a mug of hot water. I would describe the taste as “very brown,” in a good way. If you polled 100 people on their ideal cup of coffee, this would be the resulting average. It is a friendly and pleasing brew — not bitter or acidic. And it is reliable; call it the coffee equivalent of a Fuji apple. The kind of coffee you could drink four or five cups of, Icelandic-style.

Is it better than Starbucks? Easily. Is it better than your local premium artisanal coffee place? Most likely not. But it is more than delicious enough, and you do not have to leave the house for it. What’s more, the cost nets out to 21 cents per cup. That’s two dimes and a penny! If you have one cup per day, you’ll save $750 per year by adhering to the order of Mount Hagen.

Mount Hagen Instant Coffee
Mount Hagen