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Instant Coffee Paste in a Tube is Here

No Normal Coffee tube 4

The No Normal Coffee tube. All images courtesy of No Normal Coffee.

Instant coffee in a tube has arrived, courtesy of a Zurich, Switzerland-based startup called No Normal Coffee.

While toothpaste-like coffee dispensing may seem novel to much of the coffee-drinking world, the format itself is actually quite Swiss, dating back to the post World War II era. Shelf-stable tubed food pastes can still be found throughout grocery stores in Switzerland — from simple condiments and spreads to tubed meats and vegetable concoctions. 

“Having almost got invaded twice, the decision was made that our defense would be to basically dig ourselves into the mountains and wait out the storm,” No Normal Co-Founder and CEO Philippe Greinacher recently told DCN. “So, the Swiss food industry was incentivized to make foods that are long-lasting and easy to share and use, and that’s where the tube really kicked off in Switzerland.”

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No Normal is expanding those concepts to the coffee aisle, with a particular focus on outdoors enthusiasts. The No Normal concoctions can be squirted into and mixed with hot or cold water, milk or other liquids, or they can be eaten straight or as a spread. 

“We use our coffee in the mountains where we go skiing and hiking, but in Africa when you go surfing, water is very scarce. The moment you come out of the salty water, your fresh water is kind of holy,” No Normal Co-Founder and CMO Alexander Häberlin told Daily Coffee News. “So we said, okay, how can we make the most out of the little water you might have available? In some situations, maybe you really just want to drink the water and eat the coffee.”

Each tube contains 100 grams of lightly sweetened, 100% arabica-based instant coffee paste from which users can make approximately 20 cups of coffee, depending on strength. Each tube is sold for 14.90 Swiss Francs (currently rounded up to $17.00 for customers in the United States).

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No Normal Coffee Founders Philippe Greinacher and Alexander Häberlin.

Häberlin’s background is in industrial and product design. Greinacher lived in Africa for about 10 years doing business development for digital media, technology and education startups. Avid adventurers and coffee aficionados, the duo came up with No Normal’s foundational recipe last year.

Häberlin suggested that their newcomer approach to the coffee industry has in many ways been an asset to product development. 

“When it comes to how long it takes to source something or to adjust the recipe or whatnot, we came into the game completely naive,” said Häberlin. “We set timelines for our suppliers which were pretty much undoable. But through that, they also managed to speed up everything and find new solutions.”

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The coffee in each No Normal tube is a Fairtrade-certified coffee from Colombia that is sourced, roasted and manufactured into paste by Switzerland-based private-label food maker HACO Swiss, which boast a 10-person team for coffee solutions, according to Greinacher.

“Our partner is one of the largest coffee processors and roasters in Switzerland. It’s pretty cool that we get to tap into their knowledge of coffee and acidity levels, and when we went for cuppings, etc., they would give us their two cents on everything. But if we had been in coffee, I don’t think we would have come up with the product that we have,” said Greinacher. “We would have been like, ‘this is a joke, this is not what the market wants. The market wants specialty coffee and origin stories and whatnot.'”

Founded in January of this year, No Normal raised funds for its first production round via crowdfunding then staged its first in-person appearance at a Yeti Xtreme Verbier in March. Sales launched throughout Switzerland in May and internationally this month. The two-person operation packed and shipped over 700 online orders the first week.

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“This horse is basically bolting out of the stable now and we’re just trying to stay on top for as long as we can,” said Greinacher. “It’s a bit of a balancing act at this point, but I think it’s clear that what we want to achieve is we want to be the go-to outdoor coffee.”

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