Coffee in a tube squeezes like toothpaste for brewing … or eating

There’s no shortage of ways to get your coffee fix, even in the most extreme locations. There’s also no shortage of startups and inventors coming up with more, often unusual ways, to serve it. Arriving this month is yet another option aimed specifically at climbers, backpackers and all-around outdoor adventurers. Called No Normal, the new coffee style takes the form of a tube of dissolvable paste that can be mixed with water in a cup, spread onto breakfast pastries or simply gobbled straight out of the tube. It’s one of the fastest, easiest ways to get a morning dose of caffeine before pushing off farther into the wild (or urban jungle).

Drinking coffee in the wilderness is much easier for those who really don’t enjoy coffee, the folks who’ll throw heaps of sugar and heavy cream into a half-mug of hours’-old pot-bottom paint with a smile.

Once you graduate to preferring specific brands, roasts and brewing methods, coffee in the wild gets more difficult – at least if you intend to enjoy it. Bringing along a full grinder, press/pour-over, beans kit can quickly overwhelm packing limitations for ultralight trips, and lightweight, ultra-portable solutions like packets of instant tend to miss the mark in the flavor department.

You can certainly use a backpackinig stove for heating up water to make a cup of No Normal coffee, but you don't have to
You can certainly use a backpackinig stove for heating up water to make a cup of No Normal coffee, but you don’t have to

No Normal Coffee

That’s why No Normal, a Swiss startup, got to work coming up with an alternative. Its coffee paste definitely breaks from the norm, a squeezable concentrated concoction packaged in a 100-g (3.5-oz) capped aluminum tube that can be recycled after the last dollop of coffee dribbles out. The company says two teaspoons of paste dissolves in hot or cold water to make a cup of coffee. Each tube makes between 15 and 25 cups, depending on the size of your camping mug.

If you can’t spare any water – say, because you need it all to hydrate during the all-day hike ahead with no reliable natural sources along the way – the No Normal coffee can be eaten right out of the tube or spread on food – No Normal suggests a banana or piece of bread. Unlike instant coffee or coffee brew bags, No Normal is slightly sweetened with natural Swiss sugar so it should taste better straight than dry, bitter grounds.

The ability to just eat it straight is what really separates No Normal from other backcountry coffee solutions. This eliminates the need to pack a cup, extra water and any of the other brewing paraphernalia necessary for other portable coffee solutions. It also has the promise of saving time in the morning and delivering a mid-afternoon caffeine burst without so much as stopping to take off one’s backpack.

The first available flavor is a dark roast that No Normal says is made from 100% Fair-trade-certified Columbian Arabica coffee. We were surprised for a half-second it didn’t go for a medium roast to take the bite out of that initial coffee chew, but that’s just our Yankee sensibilities – Europeans live for that dark-roast kick. No Normal says this one has a strong, rich flavor with notes of chocolate, nuts and a hint of caramel.

No Normal says it uses 100% Fairtrade Arabica coffee to make its paste, sweetening it with a touch of natural sugar
No Normal says it uses 100% Fairtrade Arabica coffee to make its paste, sweetening it with a touch of natural sugar

No Normal Coffee

No Normal has been marketing its tubular paste at the outdoors and adventure sports market and worked with dozens of outdoor enthusiasts while developing and refining the product. It launched this week at Munich’s Outdoor by ISPO show after making its first public appearance at the Yeti Xtreme Verbier freeride ski/snowboard event back in March.

No Normal took home an ISPO Award at the show for its unique take on coffee drinking (and eating), with the jury saying: “Whether stirred into hot water, simply sucked from the tube, or spread on a piece of banana – the jury was delighted and creatively inspired. Innovative and flavorfully convincing.”

The company officially launched its coffee at the show and is now offering the tubes for US$18, plus shipping. That’s certainly pricier than buying bulk coffee to brew, but taking the average of 20 cups per tube into account, less than $1 a cup doesn’t seem too bad at all … at least not if it is as “flavorfully convincing” to you as it was to the ISPO Award jury.

We quickly dropped in on No Normal’s web store and found that shipping to US/Canada is around $17 for one tube but appears to be free on orders of $20 or more – so prepare to brew and chew two or more tubes if you want your money going into product, not shipping.

Sources: No Normal, ISPO

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