Before writing this particular post, I was thinking of doing a review about coffee subscription services and which ones are the best, which ones are not so good etc.
But there are so many of those reviews out there now that I am not sure I can add anything more to the that specific subject that would give you any better idea or insight on which way to go.
But, then I took a take a step back and ask the question that should come before all this is which is: Are coffee subscriptions services worth it in the first place?
I was thinking that this is a particularly good question for those that were thinking about signing up with a subscription based service and that it would be pertinent to anyone, regardless if you live in a city that has a lot of coffee options or in a more rural setting were the choices are more limited.
So I did some investigation into the coffee subscription model and this is what I found out.
The General Subscription Concept
The concept or idea of a coffee subscription service is that they will periodically send you out coffee, in exchange for a monthly fee.
The delivery times vary depending on how much coffee you drink, but the options generally include, weekly, bi weekly, or monthly and can vary in size from 3oz packages to 1lb bags.
If you have signed up for other subscription based services you already have a good idea on how this works/
Reasons To Subscribe
There is something to be said for having fresh roasted coffee delivered right to your door. Its good to know that you almost will never be out of coffee and that you don’t have to make a special trip to get your coffee.
It also takes all the guess work out of where you are going to get your coffee, will you get to the place before it closes, how will traffic be on the way over there etc.
This one of key benefits, in my experience, in that you get a chance to “see whats out there” beyond of your neighborhood or town that you live in. You get to taste coffee from famous roasting house’s and you get a different coffee from a different roaster every time coffee shows up at your door.
Discover Unique Blends
This goes hand in hand with variety where you get to taste different coffee blends that roasters outside of your immediate area have chosen to combine.
This give you a chance to see what coffee combinations they put together, say for example a simple a combination of Brazil and Sumatra and taste (and read) why they do it. It also gives you another option to ask your local roaster about it and see what they think of that combination.
As a side note, I had some people come in and do that exact thing and sometimes, if I didn’t have that blend, they would bring some in for me to try.
Anyway, getting a chance to try different blends will open up a whole other world for you and it may even get you to try some of those blended coffee’s by themselves.
Makes for a Great Gift
If you know a person who really enjoys a good cup of coffee, there is almost no better gift for them then a coffee subscription. They get fresh roasted coffee as often as you like them to get it and they can tailor it to there own taste profile either online or by contacting the roaster to see what options they may have.
A coffee subscription gift is one that just keeps on giving long after the reason for the gift has passed and will always put a smile that coffee lover’s face.
More Fresh Then The Supermarket
This is especially true if you live in a place that does not have a local roaster nearby. Almost 100% of the time the coffee you will get from a subscription service will be more fresh then anything you will get a supermarket.
I cannot impress upon you enough the importance of getting fresh roasted coffee and how important a roasted on date vs a best buy date is in the taste of coffee.
Single vs Multi Roaster Subscription Services
This is where you decide whether you want to go direct to a single roasting house or use a multi roaster company that gets coffee from a bunch of both large and small roasters, tests them out and then offers you, what they believe is a wide and interesting variety of coffee.
An example of a single roastery would be for example Big Shoulder Coffee
out of Chicago (there are many many others) and Multi Roastery would be a company like Bean Box. Again there are others, I am just using these for example purposes.
There are advantages and Disadvantages of both these type of subscription methods, so lets look at the options you get with each:
The Advantage of using single roaster is that the coffee will be consistent and you will know what are getting, quality wise and that it will always have the same taste as the previous you recieved. The disadvantage is that you will not have much variety and will not get a chance to taster as many options
With a company that sends coffee from a few roasters, you get the advantage of choice and taste profiles so you can check out what different coffees taste like and how each roaster puts their own “spin” on roasting beans from a particular place or how they blend the different coffees they get. However, by going this route you may get some coffees that you just dont like.
Usually going through a single roaster will be less expensive then going to the aggregrator simply because there are more costs involved.
The aggregrator has to buy it from roaster and then add his fee on top before sending it out to you. Either way both are going to be more expensive if for no other reason then the shipping.
Since one of the key elements of “craft coffee” is that is fresh, all the companies, that I know of, send the coffee via expedited mail service and this cost, in one way or another, is passed on to regardless of whether they say free shipping or not.
This is one of the important aspect to consider as its one of those things you don’t think about until you a question or issue with a particular coffee or delivery.
There may be a time when situation arises where you get some coffee you don’t like or it doesn’t arrive on time. Maybe it even arrives damaged you will want to be able to communicate with someone and you don’t want it to be a hassle or have to call over and over again just to get the issue resolved.
Dealing with a company or roastery that make it easy to go over anyone of these issues just makes the experience much more pleasant. You may never need to call them but its always nice to know that if you do, your issue will be resolved in friendly and professional manner
Other Topics To Consider
Will They Ship to My Country?
If you are ordering from a company that has its roastery in the USA or Canada you happen to live outside those areas, you options are going to me much more limited, especially from the more local independent roasters as the cost of shipping goes up subtantially and they will be very reluctant to accepts returns
How is Your Coffee is Delivered
There are few areas that this covers. First is what method do they ship, is it next day or via ground. Also need to keep in mind where the coffee is delivered and if it needs to be signed for. Most of the time a signature is not required and they will leave it at your door.
You also have to consider the packaging. Its much better if they ship the coffee in a box so that way it does not get crushed on its way to you. Most of the Multi Roasters will send it this way.
However, with the individual roasters, sometimes, due to the added expense, they will just put it into a, for example, USPS delivery bag and when it gets to you. Its not in the greatest shape, so you may want to ask if they can deliver it in a box.
There’s no denying that subscription boxes can be useful, exciting, and convenient. Just be aware that there are downsides. If you aren’t careful, these boxes can end being expensive, especially if aren’t able to finish one bag before they next one comes.
But the trade off to being able have access to a vast array of local coffee roasters and different types of coffee may just very well override this concern.