Coffee is so much better than it used to be. That Yuban and Folgers your parents used to trudge out of the pantry and scoop into the big drip machine are a thing of the past. But our increased appreciation of coffee has bred a certain pickiness. The many of us in the know now realize how much better coffee is when it’s fresh. You can have the best beans in the world, but if it’s sitting around for months waiting for you to go through it, you might as well go back to Yuban (OK, maybe not that far).
So that creates a problem. You want the quality freshly roasted beans, but the convenience of having them whenever you need them. In steps the internet and the growing market of mail-order gourmet coffees. We’ve pinpointed seven of our favorite services that deliver exceptional coffee with maximum convenience. Hey, if Harry’s can make a successful company out subscription razors, when no one likes shaving, there’s got to be good business in giving people the daily fix of something they actually love.
Name: Citizen Bean
How it works: Citizen Bean grew out of the idea of sending coffee as a gift, and it maintains the feel of a treat by curating its own coffee picks for subscribers, occasionally offering samples of very rare or expensive coffees free of charge, and including a small treat like chocolate in each shipment. Roasters included are small batch craft roasters with a special emphasis on social responsibility in the form of practices like direct trade and organic farming.
What’s the deal: Subscribers receive at least one pound of coffee a month, which can mean a whole pound of a single coffee or several smaller bags of different coffees, depending on the month. Subscriptions are offered for three months, six months, or a year, at rates of $79.99, $129.99, and $219.99, respectively. Shipping is not included, although yearlong subscribers can choose a bonus of either three months of free shipping or a discount brewing kit. Each shipment also includes some sort of additional treat.
Why subscribe to this: Citizen Bean promises something new and surprising every month, both in the form of different coffees from all over the place and of fun add-ons. If you want to feel like you’re getting a carefully constructed present rather than simply a box of coffee you’ll like, Citizen Bean could be the way to go. Although practices like sourcing directly from farmers at fair rates are de rigeur in the specialty coffee world, Citizen Bean puts a particular focus on social responsibility, sourcing from roasters who follow these approaches and giving a portion of sales each month to charity. Additionally, Citizen Bean has deals with a few roasters like Intelligentsia that don’t work with any other subscription services.
Name: Tonx/Blue Bottle at Home
How it works: Tonx is just like any other specialty roaster in terms of quality, but they are exclusively focused on a direct-to-consumer subscription model rather than making most of their money selling to cafes. They only mail out coffees they roasted, and, with that narrower focus, they have the subscription model down. With Blue Bottle’s recent purchase of the company, Blue Bottle’s entire online store will become available through the service along with a continuation of small runs of subscriber-only coffees all under the Blue Bottle at Home name.
What’s the deal: Currently, subscribers can receive a shipment ranging from six ounces every two weeks for $12 to 36 ounces every two weeks for $50, although the standard plan is a 12 ounce shipment every two weeks for $19. Under Blue Bottle at Home, the subscription-pricing model may be adjusted.
Why subscribe to this: While many roasters offer their own subscription services, Tonx streamlines the process and makes it a focus with a clean, easy-to-use website and dedicated customer service for subscribers. And while many subscription services sample from roasters around the country, the service guarantees an exciting coffee from the same set of expert roasters. Rather than dialing in on subscribers’ personal preferences, Tonx is focused on simply sending the best product they can each time, which might expose you to a coffee from a region or taste profile you didn’t know you wanted. Plus, under the Blue Bottle at Home banner, subscribers will have access to the whole Blue Bottle line as well as coffees Blue Bottle doesn’t offer in store.
Name: Bean Box
How it works: Located in coffee-rich Seattle, Bean Box has a growing roster of independent roasters they source beans from. Because of their proximity to so many roasters, the company can pick up directly from nearby plants right after the beans are roasted, then shipping them to consumers within a day so the beans can arrive to subscribers with maximum freshness. They’re essentially helping smaller roasters get noticed around the countries and providing the delivery infrastructure so the roasters don’t have to.
What’s the deal: For $20 per month, a subscriber gets four different artisan coffees delivered to them within days of roasting. Each portion is enough to brew a French press pot, and then customers can reorder 12-ounce bags of their favorite brews at Bean Box’s site.
Why Subscribe: The freshness of Bean Box’s coffees is hard to match. The quick delivery ensures that all the nuances and flavors that the roasters intended get to the consumer while they’re still at their peak. Also, because of Bean Box’s diverse collection of roasters, there’s always a great deal of variety in each shipment, allowing customers to sample a wide range flavor profiles.
How it works: Currently, subscribers receive a box with four carefully selected high-end coffees each month, as well as access to an online store of MistoBox offerings by the bag with a slight discount of free shipping. Under the new MistoBox, subscribers will also have a choice to receive a bag of coffee tailored exactly to their preferences based on the feedback they offer and the ratings they assign to each coffee they receive.
What’s the deal: Currently, subscribers can sign up to receive either four 1.7 ounce packets a month for $19 or four 3.4 ounce packets for $30 a month.
Why subscribe to this: MistoBox offers a great way to sample a wide range of coffees from many different roasters and find specific favorites. Once it rolls out its new service, it will be possible to get exactly the coffee you want shipped to you each month, while the detailed personalization information will help offer up a compatible replacement when one coffee runs out. Of the available subscription services, MistoBox offers perhaps the most choice and control over what you actually receive.
Name: Craft Coffee
How it works: Take their coffee DNA quiz to pick the roast and price point of coffee you want, choose to either receive one 12 ounce bag or a sampler of three four ounce bags per shipment, and set the frequency of each shipment. You’ll be sent coffees that fit your profile from independent roasters. In the next few months, Craft Coffee will be rolling out a full-fledged coffee data dashboard that will allow you to pinpoint tons of different variables you either like or don’t like about your coffee. Coffees are selected blindly by a panel of six tasters, and the company likes to brag that the acceptance rate for coffees that make the cut is more selective than Harvard.
What’s the deal: You pick the roast level, price point, and frequency of the shipments, with options to get shipments every week up to once every 12 weeks and four pricing tiers from $11.99 per shipment for “everyday craft” coffee to $24.99 for “craft reserve.” Shipping is included.
Why subscribe to this: Craft Coffee offers the most flexible pricing and shipping options of any of its competitors, and, with its goal of helping people find a coffee they like no matter what their taste preference, it may be the easiest entry point for learning more about coffee. With all the personalization tools, it may also be the easiest entry point for learning about yourself, if you’re into coffee on such an existential level.
Name: LA Coffee Club
How it works: The owners pick up coffee directly from one LA roaster every two weeks and ship it out to subscribers. Along with their regular shipments, LA Coffee Club supports local roasters through things like pop up cold brew and espresso stands with rotating casts of roasters.
What’s the deal: Select to receive either one or two 12-ounce bags a month for $25 or $49, respectively, or sign up for a three or six month subscription for a slightly lower per-bag price.
Why subscribe to this: You’ll get coffee only from LA roasters, which makes it a great way to explore and support one of the country’s most vibrant and rapidly growing coffee scenes. Many of the roasters are small operations that don’t even have storefronts, making this one of the best ways to get coffee from very niche operations and learn about a specific scene in depth. It’s also a pretty personal service: Paul describes helping one subscriber who’s in a band get good coffee on tour overseas by having a fan pick up coffee from a roaster he knew on location.
Name: Your favorite roaster
How it works: Roasters like Counter Culture, Stumptown, Intelligentsia, and many more all offer their own subscription programs, where you can get your favorite blends or seasonal single origin coffees from the roaster delivered directly at regular intervals.
What’s the deal: It depends on the roaster, but expect to pay between 14 and 22 dollars per 12-ounce bag, with single origin coffees generally costing more than blends. The frequency of shipments varies by roaster as well, with some letting you choose a frequency that works for you.
Why subscribe to this: You have a favorite roaster that you know you like, and you want to be able to get their coffees at home even if there’s no cafe that carries their coffee nearby.