Instant coffee is part of the backcountry experience for anyone who can’t functionally start their day without caffeine. Yet the convenience of instant coffee has long come with the tradeoff of taste—acrid, burned-rubber. The standards started to change a few years back with the rise of instant brews from boutique coffee companies, CS Coffee among them.
Good taste, convenience, and a desire to give back from start to finish are what comprise CS Coffee—and the quirky duo behind the business. Monica and Ian Taranto infuse their core values and ideals into each large cup of instant coffee.
Monica and Ian started CS Coffee as a way to focus on simplicity, sustainability, and giving back to their community. Ian comes from a family of entrepreneurs, and both Monica and Ian are avid, outdoorsy coffee lovers—and out-of-the-box thinkers.
The coffee: All CS Coffee beans are ethically sourced from a farm in Mexico. Monica and Ian have a third-party importer who helps choose the beans and process them into instant coffee grounds.
The serving size: When you buy a CS Coffee packet, you’re getting double the amount of grounds of other comparable offerings. Most single-serve instant coffees make one 8-ounce cup. If you use a full packet of CS Coffee grounds for an 8-ounce cup, you’re blasting off the face of the earth. A packet of CS Coffee makes at least 16 ounces, and can easily be a 20-ounce cup… even if you like your coffee strong.
The packaging: All CS Coffee packets are 100% compostable, which means the entire packet is earth-friendly. Grounds dissolve in water; packaging goes into a compost bin. Nothing else remains. As of now, all packets are sold in loose bundles, which further minimizes the amount of waste.
The people who package their coffee: Monica and Ian use a company in upstate New York who employs developmentally delayed individuals. With siblings on both sides of their family who require assistance, CS Coffee made sure to use a packaging company who employs people who might not otherwise be able to find work.
Funding athletes and giving them a platform: To round out the goodwill, CS Coffee puts an emphasis on helping athletes achieve their dreams. Monica and Ian were both sponsored cyclists and are still incredible athletes—Monica is training to run across the US in 2022—and they make it a point to help fund outdoor athletes on their endeavors.
Simply put, there’s intentionality behind every aspect of the brand. “Every aspect of the company is doing something we can be proud of,” Monica said. “We don’t take away from the environment, we employ people who need to be employed … Even our blog gives athletes a platform to talk about their adventures and share their passions. What’s not to be proud of?”
“It might mean our coffee costs more,” Monica added. “But having the company in New York package it, and ethically sourcing the coffee matters to us and that comes through in the product.”
Ian is thrilled at how the audience for CS Coffee has grown over the past year. “When you start something like this, you’re pretty much on your own,” he said. “Everyone might be cheering you on, but at the end of the day, it’s just you grinding away and that can be scary.”
Seeing their sales increase and the word spread has been rewarding and allowed them to feel confident in the growth and trajectory of the company.
From the days when Monica carried a grinder, beans, and a small french press on her solo bike trip across the U.S. to the simple, streamlined convenience of CS Coffee, a lot has changed. But one thing that hasn’t is her and Ian’s commitment to humbly making this world a better place.