I have compared coffees from five major supermarkets to decide whether they're worth drinking or if they belong down the sink.

I would take coffee in an IV if I could so testing instant coffees from Lidl, Tesco, Co-Op and more hardly felt like a hardship - but how wrong I was.

Like many people, enjoying a coffee is a borderline personality trait for me at this point. 

I used to joke about not being able to function before my morning jolt until it wasn't a joke anymore. 

The Northern Echo: I tried the instant coffees both with and without milk. ( Newsquest)I tried the instant coffees both with and without milk. ( Newsquest) (Image: Newsquest)

I would laugh about taking myself for a "little treat" until the staff at Starbucks began to recognise me and start preparing my order before I even said it aloud. 

The coffee obsession has grown so immense that I bought myself a £200 sage green machine which I now treat with as much care as I would my firstborn child.

In short - I don't drink instant coffee anymore and I had forgotten why I had stopped. 

I wouldn't consider myself a coffee snob, I drank instant for years but it's true that it's been a hot minute.

I had forgotten...to put it bluntly...the range of cuppas you can get and how truly, truly terrible they can be.

Choosing five supermarkets close to me, I compared the own-brand instant coffee from Sainsbury's, Tesco, Co-op and M&S alongside the Bellarom Rich Roast from Lidl. 

Without sugar or sweetener, I tried all the coffees with and without milk - drinking water in between each new sip to try not and confuse them.

Here's the verdict of what's worth drinking and what coffees will just end up down the sink.


The Northern Echo: Co Op's Fairtrade Gold Roast's instant coffee gets a 6/10. ( Newsquest)Co Op's Fairtrade Gold Roast's instant coffee gets a 6/10. ( Newsquest) (Image: Newsquest)

First up, I tried the Co-op's Fairtrade Gold Roast's instant coffee.

At £3 per tub, it was slightly more expensive than the majority of the other supermarket's versions but it was definitely worth the extra pennies. 

It smelled probably the most like coffee out of all the cups I tried and without milk, it was a rich blend without being overpowering. 

Overall, I'd say it was a drinkable cup of coffee but would recommend taking it black since adding even the slightest drop of milk seemed to rob it of its flavour. 

Verdict - DRINK

Price - £3

Score - 6/10


The Northern Echo: The Bellarom Rich Roast scored 4/10. ( Newsquest)The Bellarom Rich Roast scored 4/10. ( Newsquest) (Image: Newsquest)I wasn't sure what to expect when it came to the Bellarom Rich Roast - Lidl boasts some real winners on its shelves but the £1.99 price tag made me nervous.

The first thing I noticed was the smell of the instant coffee granules - the powder smelt as cheap as I expected and almost nothing like coffee. 

However, it did taste a lot better than I expected. It was rich and drinkable, inoffensive but nothing special.

Similar to the Co-Op, I was surprised at how quickly the cuppa was weakened by the milk.

Those with a sweet tooth might enjoy it fine but personally, there was much fuller flavour when it was left on its own.

Verdict - DRINK

Price - £1.99

Score - 5/10


The Northern Echo: M&S's Gold Instant Coffee gets 7/10. ( Newsquest)M&S's Gold Instant Coffee gets 7/10. ( Newsquest) (Image: Newsquest)

At £4 a jar, I had high hopes for M&S's Gold Instant Coffee and admittedly, it wasn't far off my expectations. 

Initially, the smell of the instant coffee put me off. It was sharp and unpleasant. The jar's label notes that the coffee is freeze-dried and you really get that from the lingering smell as soon as you open it.

However, the taste did make up for it - both rich and velvety.

The Fairtrade 100% Arabica Medium Roast blend is described as "smooth" and "balanced" and I think the coffee is true to the jar.

In my notes, I described the coffee as drinkable - even enjoyable but for £4 a jar, that's about the minimum that you'd hope for. 

Verdict - DRINK

Price - £4

Score - 7/10


The Northern Echo: Sainsbury's rich roast instance coffee granules gets 3/10. ( Newsquest)Sainsbury's rich roast instance coffee granules gets 3/10. ( Newsquest) (Image: Newsquest)

Looking at the Sainsbury's instant coffee jar, I wasn't jumping at the bit to pop the kettle on.

The powdery coffee granules had that same distinct and yet nondescript smell that'll haunt my dreams for the next week.

The best thing I could see about Sainbsury's version was that it was inoffensive.

In other words, you could just about politely swallow it down with a handful of rich teas during an awkward visit to your in-laws.

Not exactly praise but it was by no means the worst of the lot - that was still to come.

Verdict - SINK

Price - £2.90

Score - 3/10


The Northern Echo: Tesco's Gold instant coffee gets 1/10. ( Newsquest)Tesco's Gold instant coffee gets 1/10. ( Newsquest) (Image: Newsquest)

Last but very much least - Tesco's Gold instant coffee.

My notes app on my phone is full of abuse for Tesco's instant coffee but I'll give you the brief version. 

My tastebuds and I have broken up after drinking this cuppa and I'm not sure we're going to be able to reconcile.

Opening the jar, the smell was utterly horrendous.

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It's later been described to me as smelling like bacon frazzles and "the worst coffee smell ever" by a friend and I'm inclined to agree.

The jar's label described it as "rich and smooth" but to me, it was bitter and very unpleasant.

Even with milk, I couldn't stomach a full cup and I'm sorry to say, it's found it has now found a new home - down my drain.

Verdict - SINK

Price - £2.75

Score - 1/10