February 23, 2024

Fuel Your Adventure: Conquer the Trails with Folgers Instant Coffee

4 min read
Over 7,000 miles on trail, our hiking columnist has tried coffee and caffeine in most every form imaginable. But the humblest one of all taught him something about himself....
Fuel Your Adventure: Conquer the Trails with Folgers Instant Coffee

The Love-Hate Relationship with Folgers Instant Coffee on the Appalachian Trail


Hiking the Appalachian Trail is no easy feat. With over 2,000 miles of rugged terrain, hikers rely on caffeine to keep them going. In this article, we explore the love-hate relationship with Folgers Instant Coffee on the trail and why it remains a popular choice among hikers.

The Quest for Mammoth-Sized Pancakes

As the author and his trail family pushed towards the end of the Appalachian Trail, they found themselves in need of a quick and energizing breakfast. The promise of mammoth-sized pancakes and a much-needed shower motivated them to reach a road crossing by 8 a.m. the next morning. Despite the rain hindering their progress, they relied on Folgers Instant Coffee to keep them going.

The Controversy of Folgers Instant Coffee

Folgers Instant Coffee has long been criticized for its taste, often described as pungent glue or battery acid. Coffee snobs and baristas turn their noses up at it, preferring more expensive and artisanal options. However, hikers on long trails like the Appalachian Trail have come to appreciate its convenience and affordability.

According to the author, after hiking thousands of miles and consuming copious amounts of caffeine, he has come to realize that there is no better energetic vector than Folgers Instant Coffee. It may not taste like good coffee, but it gets the job done.

Exploring Other Caffeine Options

Hikers are known for their resourcefulness when it comes to caffeine consumption. From fancy flavored gummies to matcha and protein bars, there are various ways to get a caffeine fix on the trail. Niche instant coffees from companies like Starbucks Via, Intelligentsia, and Verve have also gained popularity. However, these options tend to be expensive and not as readily available as Folgers Instant Coffee.

The Virtues of Folgers Instant Coffee

Despite its shortcomings, Folgers Instant Coffee remains a go-to choice for many hikers. The author highlights two main reasons for this:

  1. Access: Unlike specialty instant coffees, Folgers is widely available in gas stations and grocery stores across the U.S. This accessibility is crucial when hiking in remote areas where other options may not be accessible.
  2. Affordability: Specialty instant coffees can be prohibitively expensive, with prices ranging from $12 to $16 for just a few servings. Folgers Instant Coffee, on the other hand, offers eight ounces for a fraction of the price. This affordability is essential for hikers on a tight budget.

The Downside of Folgers Instant Coffee

The author acknowledges that Folgers Instant Coffee has its flaws. Its taste is often unpleasant, and it can be challenging to drink, especially when consumed in larger quantities. However, this downside can also be seen as an advantage. The difficulty in enjoying Folgers Instant Coffee prevents hikers from overindulging and keeps them at the right level of alertness.

The Humbling Effect of Hiking

Hiking long trails like the Appalachian Trail humbles hikers and challenges their preconceived notions. The author reflects on how his initial disdain for Folgers Instant Coffee was rooted in his preference for specialty coffee brands. However, he learned that assumptions about labor conditions and environmental impact are not always accurate.

Kim Elena Ionescu, an officer of the Specialty Coffee Association, explains that the idea that specialty coffee always comes with better labor conditions and environmental benefits is not true. It is essential to gather more information before making judgments about specific products or brands.


The love-hate relationship with Folgers Instant Coffee on the Appalachian Trail is a testament to its convenience and affordability. While it may not taste like good coffee, it remains a reliable source of caffeine for hikers. The trail teaches hikers to let go of their standards and be open to new experiences. Folgers Instant Coffee, frozen burritos, and the Appalachian Trail remind us that we are rarely right about most things.

So, the next time you find yourself on a long hike, consider embracing the humble cup of Folgers Instant Coffee and let it fuel your adventure.

For more information on hiking the Appalachian Trail, visit Appalachian Trail Conservancy.