Hands-on Gear Review

Alpine Start Review

Price:  $9 List | $8.99 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Light, fast, easy to make, also available in some fun flavors
Cons:  Not the best flavor compared to fresh brewed, price adds up for long trips
Bottom line:  Alpine Start is a way to get your fix anywhere and anytime. The tiny packets weigh almost nothing and can be brewed with hot or cold water.
Editors' Rating:   
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Weight:  0.14 oz for 1 packet, 1.56 oz for box of 8
Brew Type:  Instant
Materials:  n/a
Manufacturer:   Alpine Start

Our Verdict

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.

If you just can't get behind the idea of drinking instant but need to stay super light, we recommend taking a look at the super compact GSI Outdoors Ultralight Java Drip. But our backpacking favorite is the Primula Single Serve Coffee Brew Buddy, our Top Pick for backcountry hiking. 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.



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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Penney Garrett
Senior Review Editor

Last Updated:
Wednesday
May 30, 2018

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We reckon that instant coffee isn't anyone's first choice, but sometimes it's required to get caffeinated on the move. Alpine Start is a small company, feel-good choice that, while still tasting like instant coffee, is decent.

Performance Comparison


Alpine Start still tastes like instant coffee  but it's better than many options on the market and will do in a pinch.
Alpine Start still tastes like instant coffee, but it's better than many options on the market and will do in a pinch.

Brew Features


Open packet, pour into vessel, add water. Done! Can't get simpler than that. You don't even have to heat the water up first.

Taste


Instant coffee is weird, let's face it. Alpine Start's mission is to make a version that tastes good, but when compared to freshly brewed coffee, there's just no way it can measure up. However, when tiny packets are literally the only option you have then, by golly, they sure can taste good. We found this one about on par with the Starbucks VIA. When brewed with hot water we didn't like it as much as the Starbucks Veranda Blend, but when brewed with cold/cool water it was noticeably better.

In the right situations  even instant coffee can hit the spot.
In the right situations, even instant coffee can hit the spot.

Group Cooking


Instant coffee packets are individualistic by nature, so this isn't an obvious group option. But because the packets are so light, you can easily bring enough to caffeinate a small army without even noticing the weight in your bag.

Ease of Use


The simplest way of delivering caffeine that we know of, just add the packet to warm or cold water and voila! Liquid energy!

Anyone can make instant coffee  no special knowledge or training required.
Anyone can make instant coffee, no special knowledge or training required.

Portability


Instant coffee packets are undoubtedly the most portable way to get your fix. And they're sealed and self-contained, so you don't have to worry about spills or leaks when all your gear is stuffed haphazardly into your pack.

Weight


A box of 8 of these packets will only weigh you down 1.56 ounces — and that includes the box! This is a stellar option for the weight-obsessed through-hiker, backpacker, bike-packer, or whatever other weight-conscious activity you enjoy.

A whole box of these puppies won't even add 2 ounces to your bag.
A whole box of these puppies won't even add 2 ounces to your bag.

Conclusion


For anyone wanting to save on weight, space, and brewing time, Alpine Start is here to save the day. While it's not the tastiest way to get your caffeine fix, it's pretty decent and will do the trick. And you can feel good for supporting a smaller newer company instead of a giant chain.

Bonus: Alpine Start also has some fun sweeter options available, and they're all dairy free! There is a Coconut Creamer Latte made with, you guessed it, coconut, and a Dirty Chai Latte made with traditional chai spices and soy milk. Yum!

Penney Garrett

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Most recent review: May 30, 2018
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (2.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
 (0.0)
Rating Distribution
1 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 100%  (1)
1 star: 0%  (0)


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