We realize instant coffee doesn't exactly qualify as a coffee maker, but it's a useful tool for getting caffeinated out in the backcountry or while hanging on the side of a rock face. Alpine Start hails from Boulder, Colorado and is the brainchild of a pro climber and a foodie who wanted to make Instant Coffee That Actually Tastes Good. We appreciate the effort and mostly agree. Instant coffee is just hard to make taste amazing, but this one is decent and will get you going quickly on those important adventure mornings, all while supporting a small company — that's a win-win in our book.
While we appreciate the mission and message behind Alpine Start, it just wasn't as good as our Top Pick for Instant, First Ascent. First Ascent is from a craft roaster in Crested Butte, also in Colorado. We were floored when we tasted their single origin Ethiopian — it was by far the best instant we've had thus far. If you just can't get behind the idea of drinking instant though and need to stay super light, we recommend taking a look at the super compact GSI Outdoors Ultralight Java Drip or the Primula Single Serve Coffee Brew Buddy, our Top Pick for Backpacking. Both weigh just 1.1 ounces but will require you also bringing along real coffee. It's a tradeoff, but fresh coffee always means a tastier cup.