Whole Bean, Review of Three

This is a review of three “Whole Bean Instant” coffees, two of them from a branded manufacturer and one own-label.

What did we review?

We haven’t tried to review all of the available brands in the shops; we have selected three brands almost at random. I say almost at random, because this review was promoted when a stock of Whole Bean Instant Coffee was spotted in Aldi (their ‘Alcafe’ brand). Basically, the tin looked somewhat familiar to some of the bigger coffee brands, so that made me wonder. I don’t know who makes Aldi’s product (perhaps the Aldi marketing team wants to make comment below), but as the packaging was quite familiar, I was curious to see if the Aldi variant was very different (in terms of how it tasted to us) from some of the the bigger brands?

What is Whole Bean Instant Coffee?

Those familiar with ‘normal’ freeze-dried instant coffee might look at the product in the tin, and notice little difference from regular instant. Except when they taste it. Without getting into technicalities, it’s essentially instant coffee blended with very finely milled beans. This gives it fuller, more ‘authentic’ and ‘Barista style’ taste. A more real coffee flavour. It isn’t fresh Espresso, but makes for a nice coffee.

What Whole Bean Instant brands did we review?

As I said, we didn’t review every brand out there. Nor did we do mass blind taste testing. Rather we picked up just two branded products and an own-label and drank all 3 tins (not all at once!). The purpose was to taste the difference between the branded and the Aldi variants.

The three we tried were:

Kenco Millicano Wholebean Instant Sunlight Blend Kenco Millicano Wholebean Instant Aldi Alcafe Whole Bean Instant
Sunlight Millicano Alcafe
A lighter tasting coffee than the others A stronger coffee and slightly more bitter than the others but worked well in milked coffee A full tasting coffee less bitter than Millicano and stronger-tasting than the Millicano Sunlight

Taste testing

To be clear, there was little to choose from between all three blends in terms of the quality of the taste. All three were very good and I would class them all as premium instant coffees.
We tasted them as straight black coffee (no sugar) and flat white with 50% hot milk and 50% hot water (again, no sugar). We ranked them as follows:

Style First Preference Second Preference Third Preference
Flat White Millicano Aldi Alcafe Sunlight
Style Joint First Preference Second Preference
Black Coffee Aldi Alcafe Millicano Sunlight

Prices

As you might expect, the Aldi Alcafe was the lowest cost. This is is what I paid for 100g tins of each.

Brand Price
Kenco Millicano Wholebean Instant Sunlight Blend £4.00 from Tesco
Kenco Millicano Wholebean Instant £4.00 from Tesco
Aldi Alcafe Whole Bean Instant £2.69 from Aldi

‘Normal’ instant coffee is generally cheaper, but personally, I would say to pay the extra and buy a Whole Bean Instant. At about 5 ½ pence per cup for Aldi’s Alcafe – it’s worth it.

Review Summary

Like many coffee lovers, I prefer freshly brewed coffee. But I do drink Whole Bean Instant coffee, especially when I don’t have time to focus on grinding and brewing. And all of these coffees were good and very drinkable, and I would be happy to drink any of them. Given a choice of these three, I would prefer the Alcafe or Millicano in the morning, and the Sunlight blend for later in the day.

The Costs – A saving can be had

Here is the crunch. Although there are occasional offers for the Millicano blends, the Aldi Alcafe is £1.31 cheaper per 100g. If you go through a 100g tin in 2 weeks (each tin has about 50 cups), then you could save about £34 (annually) with Aldi Alcafe.


Please feel free to add your opnions, below, about Whole Bean Instant.

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