So I thought I'd try the 'premium' instant coffees, and put Aldi's Alcafe Whole Bean Instant Coffee against Kenco Millicano Whole Bean Instant to see which one came out top for me in the morning.
Both come in a premium looking tin, which has a nice metal feel to it. The design on both is very siimilar and looks like a higher quality product. I'm not sure which design came first, but you can see some elements are very similar.
I sometimes think when an own brand and branded product have the same format best before and batch date, it's a bit of a giveaway that they've been made by the same company in the same place. You can see here that the formats and codes used on these products are different, which suggests to me they're made by different companies.
The metal seals on both tins are a nice touch and add to the premium feel of the coffee. Although the seals are tight to keep the coffee fresh, they're easy enough to pull open if you have full dexterity and don't need loads of strength.
So onto the coffee. Aldi's Alcafe mentions on the back that it's made of 'instant Arabica coffee and finely ground coffee beans'. Arabica coffee is known for its less harsh taste than the other common coffee bean Robusta. My view is that this makes this a nicer, more balanced coffee. Kenco doesn't state its coffee variety source on pack.
Aldi's Alcafe whole bean instant coffee (pictured above) also states on its pack that it's a balance of 90% instant coffee, and 10% roast and ground coffee. You can see in the picture this results in a reasonable even mix of similar size particles.
Kenco Millicano whole bean instant however, states that its product is made of 85% instant coffee and 15% roast and ground coffee. I think you can really see there's a much greater mix in the picture above. The 5% difference means 5g - or a tablespoon more of ground coffee in Kenco than Alcafe. The picture shows 5g, although it is hard to judge scale!
Coffee is a very simple product to buy Fairtrade, if you want to. Neither of these products are Fairtrade, but Kenco works with the Rainforest Alliance, which promotes good farming practices to protect the environment and farmers. The pack carries the Rainforest Alliance frog logo.
And what about the taste? In truth, I like them both. I find Alcafe a slightly milder cup of coffee (milk, no sugar please), which leaves less of a bitter aftertaste. But Kenco makes a stronger cup that some mornings you just need. I don't notice the 5% difference in ground beans between the two, and suspect the taste difference is because of the beans used.
For me, both are better than your average freeze dried instant and come close to the fresh coffee taste that's so nice on lazy mornings when you have time to make it.
So for me it comes down to cost. At £4.39 for 100g tin for Kenco vs £2.69 for the same size Alcafe tin it really is a no brainer to choose the Aldi version. Having said that, Kenco is regularly on offer and for a similar price as the Aldi version I would buy it too.
Do you have a favourite coffee? I'd love to know which it is.