This fall, First Ascent, the specialty coffee roaster enjoyed by outdoor enthusiasts, will also be enjoyed by astronauts in outer space.
Approximately 250 servings of the brand’s handcrafted Dawn Patrol instant coffee is on board with NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission to the International Space Station, launching today, October 5.
“In August 2021, I received an email asking if we could do large batches of coffee,” said Sam Higby, co-owner, First Ascent. “It seemed like a fairly generic question and sales lead until I noticed the ‘nasa.gov’ domain name, which definitely piqued my curiosity.”
Higby found himself on the phone with the astronaut-to-be, lamenting about the sub-par instant coffee options available at the Space Food Systems Laboratory. After discussing the possibility of First Ascent going to space, sending samples out and being taste-tested against other potential options, First Ascent received an order and shipped 256 eight-ounce servings of its Dawn Patrol blend.
With the lack of gravity in space and the inability to pour hot water directly into a cup, preparing and drinking coffee in outer space looks a little different. The instant coffee grounds are repackaged in individual foil pouches with a valve on one end. The astronaut pulls the pouch out of their locker, applies a straw, adds hot water, shakes, and drinks.
“It’s a pretty amazing feeling knowing that astronauts will be sipping our coffee at the International Space Station,” said Higby. “We’ve all wondered what it would be like to go to outer space, and, now, in our own way, we get to be there.”
Photo courtesy First Ascent