I’ve noticed a growing number of subscription coffee services promising to bring you great coffee by mail once or twice a month. Each one has a slightly different take on this and I thought I’d lay them out below, with a few of my own thoughts and experiences.
Perhaps the most well known and well regarded is Tonx coffee, which I’ve already reviewed here and here. Suffice to say they have pioneered an easy web-based subscription model and largely succeed in their goal of sourcing great coffees and ‘nailing the roast’ before shipping them out. Many of the larger specialty coffee roasters offer subscriptions too, but few come close to the ease of use and flexibility Tonx offers.
Misto Box is a newcomer with a different subscription model. They partner with roasters to provide four small 2-4oz. samples. Their unique offer is that you get free shipping on a larger bag of your choice from among the coffees shipped each month, along with the ability to earn points redeemable towards free coffee. Right now the list of participating roasters is a bit of a mix, with a few well known names like Klatch and Olympia Coffee Roasters, along with smaller roasters I haven’t heard of. I’ve spoken to the owners after trying a box and suggested giving more control to the user over which kinds of coffees are sent (i.e. I wouldn’t want to pay to receive a generic blend or flavored coffee, which is a risk you run by subscribing right now). UPDATE: They’ve changed this and no longer ship blends or flavored coffees in the monthly Mistobox, rather they are only offered for purchase on the website. They are just starting after a successful Kickstarter campaign and I believe that as the company grows it may become an interesting way to choose a variety of roasters to sample before settling on a larger 12-16oz bag. The point system also has potential to add some value if you buy a lot of coffee.
Regular Coffee is currently raising funds on Kickstarter with 10 days left. They’re an offshoot of Rowster, a Grand Rapids, Michigan based roaster. I love the packaging, and I think their goal of producing a solid mid-level coffee to compete with the commodity market giants has potential. Not everyone cares about geeking out over the most interesting flavors possible in specialty coffee, and Regular Coffee aims to fill the gap between generic coffee and high-end specialty coffee with something that is flavorful but not fussy. I tried a pre-production sample and found the roast to be a bit underdeveloped for my taste, not unpleasant but a little on the sour side. That said, I think the concept is viable once they perfect the roast, and I really love the packaging for its aesthetic design and potential for re-use as storage. A $25 pledge on their Kickstarter page will get you one of their slick Regular Coffee tubes filled with 1.5lbs (681g) of coffee to make your own judgment.
Craft Coffee is also fundraising on Kickstarter, with yet another model. The coffees offered here are rigorously blind-cupped samples chosen from well known specialty coffee roasters – including the likes of PTs Coffee, Ecco, Paradise, Coava, and many more. You get three 4oz bags each month with a $25/mo subscription, which drops to $20/mo if you pay up front for an annual subscription. For the promiscuous coffee fanatic, this is a great way to try a lot of high-end coffee and sample the best of what’s happening in the US coffee scene without emptying your wallet on shipping fees.
Overall quite a few different options each with their own value proposition. If you’re a subscriber, let us know what you think in the comments below!