A Crested Butte couple just wanted better backpacking coffee. They made something so good NASA came calling. | SummitDaily.com

A Crested Butte couple just wanted better backpacking coffee. They made something so good NASA came calling.

Mark and Alison Drucker co-founded First Ascent in 2014 and brewed up instant coffee four years later. Now it’s headed to the International Space Station at the request of an astronaut.

Jason Blevins
The Colorado Sun

CRESTED BUTTE — There’s a sticker on the industrial freeze-drying machine at the First Ascent coffee roaster in Crested Butte. It’s from a group promoting the diversity of Colorado’s startup businesses, describing the state’s agriculture to rocket science business breadth with the words “Farm to Spaceship.”

“I guess I never thought of it so literally,” said Mark Drucker, who co-founded First Ascent coffee in 2014 with his wife, Alison, and this week sent 250 servings of his small-farm harvested, instant Dawn Patrol coffee on a NASA rocket heading to the International Space Station. 

Several years ago, during a particularly grueling push up the last leg of the Four Pass Loop near Aspen, Mark and Ali were wondering how they shave weight from their overnight packs. The overburdened owners of a specialty coffee roastery blasphemously wondered if they should abandon the French press used for their morning Joe.

“One of us said ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we had instant coffee right now instead of all this brewing equipment,’” Mark said. “What if we could make an instant coffee that actually tastes good?”

They started experimenting with freeze drying and found they could indeed make a delicious freeze-dried brew. They small-batch roasted their carefully selected green coffee beans from small farms in Ethiopia and brewed coffee as if they were serving it in their coffee shop in a rehabbed miner’s cabin on downtown Crested Butte’s Elk Avenue. 

Read more on ColoradoSun.com.

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