Instant coffee may contain very little coffee and the energizing effect may be nothing more than a placebo
Study shows instant coffee may cause cholesterol level to shoot up. Besides, strong milky flavor can mean more additives in your drink. Let the Test-it report reveal the truth of instant coffee!

Test-it™ Introduction

Your busy day begins with a sip. Stirring coffee with a spoon, you immerse in the aroma that wakes you up. All trivialities are gone when you are enjoying your dose of caffeine, as what dissolves in the cup is not only coffee powder, but also your temper and stress. That's why we are all fans of the drink.

Test-it™ selected 30 instant coffee products in the market and worked with professional laboratory to run safety test using the world leading biological testing technology Testing 2.0. The test rated 13 products as Green Fish (Excellent), 7 as Yellow Fish (Basic) and 10 as Red Fish (Sub-Optimal).

Among them, instant coffee products of Southeast Asian brands or those produced in the region have noticeable worse quality. For most of the instant coffee products, coffee content only comprises 5%-9%, and the rest is made up of various additives.

According to World Health Organization and United Nations, choosing the wrong product could cause cancers, infertility, precocious puberty, obesity and neurological disorders. Test-it™ provide clear, direct test reports with lifestyle tips. Equipped with scientific and objective information, consumers can make safer purchasing choices.

Stay tuned for more interesting facts.

Interesting Facts

Coffee beans are originally plant seeds which are blocked from germination and enter hibernation after processing.

For more effective storage of coffee beans, spray-drying technology is applied to make instant coffee.

Thanks to creamer, we can enjoy coffee with creamy and milky texture. Known as the “best mate of coffee”, creamer, instead of dairy products, gives instant coffee the milk-like flavor.

The state allows manufacturers to label “0” for products containing not more than 0.3g of trans-fatty acids per 100mL. However, it doesn't mean that the drink is free from trans-fatty acids.

Statistics show that coffee is the most popular drink among scientists/laboratory technicians, administration and management as well as public relationship personnel. Which means coffee sells the best at where the scientists are!

When men drink coffee, their sperms become more active because of the effect of caffeine in semen.

Test-it™ Reports

Test-it™ Standards

Traditional chemical Test 1.0 and existing regulations only reflect the basic requirements for market entry, not the products’ actual safety for consumption. Test-it™ applies first-in-the-world fish embryo toxicity (FET) test technology (Testing 2.0), enabling an effective and thorough examination on both acute and chronic toxicity in the tested products (effective up to several thousands of known toxicants to humans). We test and classify global products into three categories (Red, Yellow and Green Fish) through a comprehensive test system and scientific statistic analysis. We provide clear, direct test reports with lifestyle tips. Testing method varies with products. For the Instant Coffee test, the transgenic medaka embryo testing for chronic toxicants, zebrafish embryo testing for acute toxicants and ingredients check are applied.

Good performance under screening of acute toxicity, chronic toxicity and ingredients. Consumers can rest assured that the products are safe for purchase.

Meets the safety baselines under screening of acute toxicity, chronic toxicity and ingredients. Consumers are recommended to purchase with caution.

Below standard under screening of acute toxicity, chronic toxicity and ingredients. Consumers are recommended to purchase with extra caution.

Green Fish List
{{item.price}} {{item.currency}}

Test-it™ Discovery

1.In terms of product origins, samples of Southeast Asian brands have worrying quality.

2.In terms of origins of raw materials, samples from Southeast Asia still come right at the bottom.

We tested samples of which the raw materials are from East Asia (China, Japan and Korea), Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand), South America (Ecuador and Colombia) and Europe (the United Kingdom and Germany).

Result shows that:

43% of the samples from East Asia are rated Green Fish, 7% Yellow Fish and 50% Red Fish;

only 30% of the samples from Southeast Asia are rated Green Fish, while Yellow Fish and Red Fish account for 40% and 30% respectively. In other words, the region underperforms as compared to East Asia;

Green Fish and Yellow Fish both take up 50% for South American samples;

All European samples are rated Green Fish. What an achievement!

[Coffeepedia] The most ideal environment for planting coffee beans: the best location is between 25°N to 30°S; the optimal temperature is between 15 and 25 degrees and the suitable precipitation is approximately 1000-1800mm; sunlight is essential for growing, but shading is also necessary so that blossoming and bearing of fruit is not hindered by strong light. Coffee beans grow well on soil with good drainage and fertility that contains pozzolana. Location with clam winds at an altitude of 800-1200m is also good for growing coffee.

In terms of place of production, the environment in East Asia and Southeast Asia is better for growing coffee as a whole. However, the Green Fish rate of these regions is lower than that of Europe, where it is less suitable to grow coffee beans.

3.Higher average toxicity of instant coffee

When comparing with the test results of coffee chains, it is found that instant coffee has a higher average toxicity. In other words, chain stores are a healthier choice to get coffee.

4.The instant coffee you are drinking may not be real coffee.

Most samples contain 9% or less coffee while only a few contains 100%. What's more is that food additives such as creamer, emulsifier and stabilizer are used extensively in instant coffee products.

[Review] Yoshihiro MIYAKE, Suminori KONO and other Japanese pharmacists conducted a six-year study on the impact of instant coffee and filter-drip coffee on cholesterol level of Japanese people, where 4,587 people were selected as test subjects. It is found that, while the traditional filter-drip coffee has no impact on cholesterol level, instant coffee significantly increases cholesterol level and low-density lipoprotein. This may be due to the large amount of sugar and creamer added to instant coffee or 3-in-1 coffee products.

A drink with little coffee and a lot of additives has already ruined the rich flavor of coffee. Perhaps the instant coffee in hand is just a cup of instant hot drink.

5.Additives affect coffee quality

Test results of instant coffee samples show that only 29% of cappuccino samples are rated Green Fish, while Yellow Fish and Red Fish take up 14% and 57% respectively.

[Coffeepedia]Cappuccino is an Italian coffee made by mixing equal amount of espresso and steamed milk foam. The traditional cappuccino comprises 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk and 1/3 milk foam, with cinnamon powder atop.

Instant cappuccino products use significantly more additives than other coffee products, which results in less satisfactory quality.

6.Price may not be a reliable indicator for product safety

The average price of the 30 samples collected is 4HKD/packet.

Among the samples, the most expensive one costs 11.4 HKD/packet, which is 11 times of the cheapest one, which is 1 HKD/packet.

Test-it™ Tips


Conventional chemical test 1.0 and the basic regulations only reflects the basic requirement for a product’s market entry. The mission of Test-it™ is to further improve product safety with world leading technology Testing 2.0. Though horizontal analysis in similar products, Test-it™ provides consumers with information and data for better consumer choices. Products are categorised as Green Fish, Yellow Fish and Red Fish according to test results.

Test-it™ has developed a high standard as a third party consumer goods evaluation platform. Developed by an experienced research and development team and an advisory board of toxicology experts from 12 countries, Test-it™ references from the global standard of China, EU, the U.S., Japan, WHO and OECD. With the application of fish embryo toxicity (FET) test technology (Testing 2.0), The standard of Test-it™ could be higher than the existing regulations.

Sampling Method

Market research and product

Test-it selected 30 best selling Instant Coffee brands by analysing sales and attention span from the Test-it fans group. The research is conducted in both e-commerce platform and physical store. 

  • E-commerce market research

  • Retailer market research

  • Sales volume and popularity

  • Selected products

Purchasing Method and Channel

All tested samples were purchased by Test-it as a common customer. Samples were purchased from the brands’ official beauty counters and their globally recognised sales channels ( official flagship stores ) on major E-commerce platforms ( JD, Tmall, Koala, Amazon) . All sample were purchased anonymously.In order to maintain neutrality and objectiveness, Test-it reports will not accept products submitted by manufactures.

  • Represent common consumers

  • Reliable sales channel

  • Anounymous purchase

  • No manufacturer sampling

Test Method

1、 Transgenic medaka embryo testing for chronic toxicants

2、Zebrafish embryo testing for acute toxicants

3、Ingredients check

Vitargent adopts an exclusive ingredients screening system comparing restricted and high risk ingredients regulated by the CODEX Alimentarius of the WHO&FAO, USFDA, EU, Food and Drug Administration of Japan and China to further enhance product safety.

Ingredient Screening: Products must not contain any chemicals that are associated with health complications, eco-toxicity, or contamination by scientific safety evaluations, or are banned by the following governmental agencies and authoritative bodies.

US: USFDA’s ‘Summary of colour additives for use in the United States in foods, drugs, cosmetics, and medical devices’, ‘Prohibited & Restricted Ingredients’, and 'Everything Added to Food in the United States (EAFUS)'.

EU: European Commission Nos. 1333/2008, 1223/2009, 1129/2011, and 1130/2011, and Candidate List of substances of very high concern for Authorisation (SVHC) by European Chemicals Agency (2017).

China: China FDA’s ‘Safety and Technical Standard for Cosmetics’ (2015), and 'National food safety standards: food additive standard (GB2760-2014).

Japan: Japan’s ‘Standards for Cosmetics’ (2000), and 'Standard for use of food additives (2017)

WHO&FAO: CODEX Alimentarius

Results Analyzing Method

Category Medaka embryo testing for chronic toxicants Zebrafish embryo testing for acute toxicants Ingredients check
Pass WHO guideline on Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) No LC50 (50% fish death) detected at highest concentration No banned or high concernedingredients

Pass WHO guideline on Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) LC50 detected within highest centration to Vitargent category-based reference line No banned but contain high concerned ingredients

Fail (reading exceed ADI or over 50% fish death at Vitargent category-based reference line ) LC50 detected below Vitargent category-based reference line Contain banned ingredients

Selected Awards

Hong Kong Technological Achievement Award(2014) Davos Global Innovation Pioneer (2015) Geneva International Inventions 43rd Grand Prix Winner (2015) World Intellectual Property Organization Gold Medal (2016) APEC & GIC Future Maker (2016) Unreasonable Impact (2017)


  • 1. This report is conducted in random sampling method with laboratory standard operating procedures. All samples were purchased by our staff members through normal sales channels as a common customer.
  • 2. Green Fish indicates excellent quality. Fair Price indicates quality products priced equivalent to or below 4 HKD/packet. Quality Great China indicates quality products from the Greater China Region.
  • 3. Green Fish indicates products show excellent quality in this test, listed in no particular order.
  • 4. All tests are conducted in Vitargent’s laboratories in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Belgium.
  • 5. This test was conducted under the principle of consumer goods comparison. The test results only indicate quality of the very sample. They do not reflect quality of other products under the same brand ( same or different models ) nor the products’ quality in different batches. The test results are provided solely for your personal, non-commercial use. No promotion or recommendation of any products are intended. By no means should the results be taken as medical advice. Consultation with doctors and healthcare professionals are recommended before employing the test results. The test results are not to be mistaken as medical advice for diagnosis, treatment, or recommendations for health conditions. We are not responsible or liable for anyone using the results of this report.
  • 6. The test results are provided solely for your personal, non-commercial consumer reference. The references of product qualities and recommendations hold no legal validity nor guarantee. Any business and consumer decision made by users is an independent action on their behalves. We are not responsible or liable for any dispute caused.
  • 7. You may not derive for commercial use or promotional actives any data from this report in any corporate and organisations, unless you obtain prior permission from Test-it™.
  • 8. All information and data in the report are dated to 13th July, 2017, information are updated constantly according to the testing results released by other authorities.
  • 9.For more information, please see Terms, Conditions and User Agreement.
From · Test-it™· 2017/07/13