The words “good” and “instant coffee” are seldom used together. But, thanks to Boulder-born Alpine Start, quality instant coffee is no longer an oxymoron.
The idea was brewed up when co-founder Matt Segal was on a rock climbing expedition in British Columbia. As an avid climber and adventure athlete, Matt had many early mornings and drank a lot of coffee. And, he admits it wasn’t always that great.
On outdoor adventures, “I was either attempting to make normal coffee on a portaledge with an aero press, which was always messy,” he explains, “or using competitor’s instant coffee.”
This inspired him to take on the challenge of creating his own instant coffee blend – and one that actually tasted good. So, he enlisted good friend and natural-food rock star Alex Hanifin.
“Brainstorming was always something fun we did together,” Alex shares. After Matt pushed the idea a few times (and a few beers later, Alex adds) the pair agreed to partner up and make the idea a reality.
Matt and Alex each brought a little something different to the proverbial (coffee) table.
While Matt says he had no “real” business experience, he is the self-described visionary type and enjoys scheming up new products and marketing plans. “But in reality,” he confessed, “I do whatever needs to get done, from cleaning toilets to meeting with retailers.”
Alex, who always had a love for food and the community around it, drew from her business experience in the corporate world. “I support Matt in cleaning the toilets,” she jokes, “But, I also oversee a little bit of everything. I love the operations behind a business,” Alex said, “so I work closely with that.”
Despite being a small team with numerous demands and limited resources, things started to come together for the duo.
“It’s kind of like magic,” Matt says of the challenges of starting a business. “You have to make things appear out of nothing.”
After a lot of hard work, and perhaps a little magic, in mid-2016 the partners had products in hand and were officially in the coffee business.
The brand’s flagship instant coffee creation is a well-balanced medium roast blend of high quality and high altitude 100% Arabica beans from Colombia. The coffee comes in convenient pre-proportioned packets loaded with 120 mg of caffeine that easily dissolve in hot or cold water. Just stir and you’re good to go. The team echoes, “no fancy filters, no waiting, no nonsense.”
Later, Alpine Start expanded its product line with two unique, equally indulgent selections: the rich and smooth Coconut Creamer Latte for life on the go, and the spicy and aromatic Dirty Chai Latte. Like the signature coffee blend, both come in convenient, single-serve packets and can also be enjoyed hot or cold.
So, given the vast selection of instant coffees currently on the market, what sets Alpine Start apart? With the slogan “Instant Coffee That Actually Tastes Good”, Matt firmly believes it’s the flavor that sells their product. Taste, along with their price point (about $1.00 per cup), separate them from their competitors.
Being based in Boulder, CO has had its advantages too. “Boulder is great!” Matt exclaimed. Calling this outdoor mecca home has helped Alpine Start create a business that “doesn’t only emphasize making money, but enjoying life and spending time outside!”
Additionally, the business has enlisted a growing crew of 400+ adventuring ambassadors that use and promote the brand wherever their escapades take them.
Like its ambassadors and diverse clientele, the business is constantly on the move. Alpine Start launched nationally with outdoor retailer REI. Soon after though, the brand became available at numerous specialty outdoor shops across the country including Garage Grown Gear.
Their growth is especially impressive given the team is comprised of about five highly motivated (and heavily caffeinated) individuals.
“I’m amazed daily at the amount of work that everyone gets done,” Matt said.
So, whether the purpose of your early morning is to conquer an arduous climb in the mountains or merely dominate your daily inbox, the folks at Alpine Start are here to help.