Think back 10, maybe 15 years and think about coffee. My guess is, back then, if you were making yourself a coffee at home, it was instant – am I right? If you went out for a coffee, you might have been lucky enough to have a nice little coffee shop nearby, but most likely you would have to search out a Costa or a Starbucks on the high street.
We’ve come a long way haven’t we? Now, so many lovely and exciting independent coffee shops are popping up all over the place. On top of that, there are no hundreds of options when it comes to making coffee at home. Pod coffee machines, filter coffee machines and even espresso machines are now so affordable that most kitchens in the UK are making delicious coffees every morning. The range of coffee available has also exploded to match this demand, with hundreds of wonderful coffee roasters springing up all over the country.
Not only this, but the way we buy coffee is also changing – no longer do we have to pick from a small aisle in a supermarket. Farmer’s markets, coffee shops and food festivals are all great places to buy coffee, and then of course there is also the Internet that offers a whole host of options…
Why Bother With A Coffee Subscription?
Buying coffee on the internet provides you with so much choice – not just in terms of what coffee you get, but how you get it. Subscription coffee services are becoming more and more common, and offer a great alternative to scouring website after website to choose one pack at a time. With a subscription service you can just select a specific coffee, or a type of coffee, and then how often you will require a new pack. Then you can just sit back and wait for your delivery.
I don’t know about you, but I really hate running out of coffee. Having a fresh coffee first thing in the morning is a critical part of my daily routine, and just the best way to start my day. There is nothing worse than going into the cupboard, bleary eyed and in desperate need of a pick-me-up, only to find that I’ve run out of coffee. With a coffee subscription, this problem disappears. As soon as I get close to running out, a new, fresh pack lands on my doorstep, ready for use.
That’s just the start of it though – as we have come to expect these days, as well as being ‘on demand’ there is also so much choice when it comes to what coffee you receive, and where you receive it from. More and more of these subscription services are popping up, and they all offer a wide range of coffees. So which one is right for you? That’s a difficult question, but fortunately we have taken a look at five of the best services around today – have a look through them and see if you can find the right fit for you.
What To Look For With A Coffee Subscription
Before we get on to looking at the individual services, it’s a good idea to take stock and have a think about what sort of thing we want from a coffee subscription, as they all offer something slightly different.
First of all, we need to decide whether we would like a ‘supply’ subscription, or a ‘discovery;’ one. Basically, a supply subscription is best for people that know exactly what coffee they want, and they just want to make sure they never run out. They’ll pick their coffee and receive that same one again whenever they run out.
As you’ve probably guessed, a discovery subscription will send you a different coffee every time you need a new pack, so you end up really broadening your coffee horizons – but you never know what you’re going to get.
Also, you’ll need to look into what sort of quantity you will require. Often the subscription will be for quite large packs, which is great for larger households, offices or people that drink a lot of coffee! However, if you don’t get through coffee that quickly, you will probably want to hunt out the smaller quantities so that you’re drinking fresher coffee.
There are plenty of other little decisions to look out for too: flexibility of the subscription, cancellation policy, frequency of delivery options, origin of the beans, roast variety, grain size options…. There’s a lot going on! So now let’s look into some of the best available to help you to make a decision:
Clumsy Goat Coffee Subscription
Taking their name from an Ethiopian legend about a goat herder that noticed his goats acting erratically (jumping, dancing, falling over), after eating red berries from one of his trees, the coffee tree, this Lancashire based roasting company are obsessed with coffee.
For their subscription there are a few different options. They offer a discovery package, rather than supply, offering a different coffee every month. The first decision you need to make is whether you would like the ‘Single Origin of the Month’ or the ‘Espresso of the month’. The espresso will be a darker roast, and ground to a size to suit any (you guessed it) espresso machine.
If you select the ‘Single Origin of the Month’ you will then get to choose what grind you would like, based on the method you make your coffee. The options are; whole bean (for grinding at home), French press grind, pour over grind, aeropress grind, stovetop grind, drip machine grind. Personally, I always find this sort of attention to detail very reassuring – the fact that they give you so many options for your grind size means that they really want their coffee to taste as good as it possibly can.
Finally, you need to decide how often you would like the coffee to be delivered. There are three options, weekly (for people that drink about 6 cups a week), fortnightly (for about 8 cups a week) and monthly (for about 4 cups a week). As they bring in new coffees on a monthly basis, you may find that you get the same coffee a couple of times if you go for the weekly or fortnightly options, whereas with the monthly it will be a different coffee every time.
Once you have decided that, you’re good to go! All of their coffee is roasted weekly, so no matter what delivery option you go for, you can rest assured that you’re getting fresh coffee. You also get the option to skip deliveries or change the dates of the delivery if you are going on holiday, or your drinking habits change.
Changing the details of your subscription is all done on the website – you simply need to log in and head to ‘My Account’, where you can change the details, or even cancel the whole subscription at any time. No obligation to keep the subscription for any longer than you want to, no commitment for any length of time.
All of their coffee is certified as Fairtrade, which means that their farmers get paid a fair price, with improved working conditions and efforts are made to reduce energy consumption, using recyclable or easily biodegradable packaging.
Crucially, their coffee is really great – served in small 50g packs, it is perfect for smaller households that want to explore different coffees that are roasted to perfection.
Presto Coffee Subscription
Presto are one of the most recent entries to the subscription market, being founded in 2018, but they have already established themselves as one of the premium brands when it comes to small-batch coffee roasting.
They offer a supply subscription, whereby you pick your favourite coffee and they will send you a top up every time you need one. However, this only tells a small part of the story – the amount of choice you have is incredible.
Obviously, you get a choice of different coffee (more on that shortly), but you also get so much choice in what form the coffee comes in. So, while you have the standard coffee beans or ground coffee options, you could also go for coffee bags and even a premium instant coffee.
For the beans, you currently have the option of 6 (they do update their selection every now and then):
- House Espresso – a great crowd pleaser, perfect for espressos, with hints of dark chocolate and almonds
- Brazilian Blend – a medium roast with deep chocolate and caramel flavours, with no bitterness and a smooth finish
- Crema Espresso – a blend of Arabica beans and Robusta beans, it produces a wonderful crema. A dark roast that makes tremendous milky coffees, like lattes
- Rocket Roast – double the amount of caffeine compared to a standard coffee, perfect for filter machines to produce a full-bodied strong coffee with hints of cranberry
- Carbon Signature Espresso – wonderfully soft, well-rounded coffee that makes a fantastic espresso with hints of fresh fruit
- Decaf Roast – a fantastic decaf coffee option, that is delicate and smooth with a crisp finish and gentle flavours of honey peanut, dark cocoa and almond
All of these whole bean options are also available as ground coffee, suitable for use with V60, aeropress, French drip and stovetop coffee makers, so a medium grind. I get the impression that Presto are keen for you to go for the whole bean option and grind at home, though, thereby drinking their coffee at its absolute freshest.
You get plenty of choice for the coffee bags as well, of course, from the delightfully silk-like Smooth Italian (a great easy-drinker) to the more complex Intense Coffee Bags, which are more similar to the Rocket Roast listed above. There is also a decaf option. If you have never tried a coffee bag before, then adding these to your subscription is a great way to dip your toes into the water.
Finally, the instant coffee option is something that I would have never normally considered, but I was blown away when I tried it – it’s a really good coffee (that made it on to our our list of Best Instant Coffees). It’s rich and full-bodied, with hints of cocoa and almond and a wonderfully smooth finish. It’s a great instant coffee to have in, in case of emergencies!
They are another company that cares deeply about their impact on the world. They work hard to forge deep-routed relationships with their farmers, and always use environmentally friendly packaging.
Most importantly though, for this list at least, they make really good, small batch, weekly roasted coffee, offering something for everyone.
Pact Coffee Subscription
Next up we look at Pact Coffee, a subscription coffee provider founded in 2012 that don’t like to use the word ‘subscription’. They see it as too inflexible and they want you to know from the start that you are in complete control. That probably gives you a huge hint as to how this review will go…
It’s all about choice. When you go to set up a subscription you have a series of selections to make (it’s actually quite a fun process to be honest). First, you will need to select either regular or decaf – a straightforward choice. Next, they want to know how you are going to make the coffee, giving you the choice of V60, cafetiére, stove top, Aeropress, chemex, espresso machine, bean-to-cup or cold brew.
This will inform their next question, which is whether you would like whole beans or ground to the recommended size depending on your brewing method: coarse, medium, medium-fine or fine.
- House Range: This is the cheapest option, and you will always get the same coffee – a smooth chocolate flavoured roast.
- Select Range: The middle option in terms of price, this option will give you a different coffee every time, but you get to select from a range of between 5-10 for your first one.
- Micro-Lot Range: This is the premium option, and will offer unique tasting coffees with plenty of depth of flavour. Again, you’ll get a different coffee every time with this range – certainly the one for the coffee connoisseur!
Finally, you get asked how many cups of coffee you drink a week, and from that they will work out how often they need to send you a new 250g bag, ranging from every 3 days to every 50 – like we said, they’re all about choice!
As we’ve come to expect, you have full control over all of these selections throughout your subscription, and can change anything or cancel at any time, again all through their website. They also have a strong commitment to their ethical responsibilities, and have published a 33 page document on their website detailing exactly how strong that commitment is! This includes paying 25% above the Fairtrade base price to their farmers for their coffee, ensuring that they never need to expand their farmland (at the expense of local wildlife) in order to survive.
Ultimately though, it’s all about their coffee. The Micro-Lot option, in particular, will provide you with some of the most exciting coffees available today, all delivered right to your door at precisely the time when you need them. You also have the ability to rate each coffee once you’ve received it – this is a great thing to do as not only will it help other customers make buying decisions, but also Pact will learn what sort of coffees you like and only send ones that they think will be a hit with you.
Craft Coffee Club
Buckingham based coffee subscription company Craft Coffee Club are a little bit different to the others that we’ve looked at so far on this list. Founded in 2019, they don’t just aim to provide you with great coffee, they have the whole package to enhance your coffee-drinking experience.
You see, with each box you don’t just get world-class coffee (more on that later), but you get a whole box of goodies. There will be a collection of artisan British treats, which could be anything from flavoured popcorn or hand-crafted sweets, to more traditional biscuits and mini-cakes. Just what you need to go with a cup of delicious coffee.
On top of that you will get an exclusive magazine, in which you will be able to learn more about the origin of the coffees in your box, as well as tasting notes, recipe ideas, brewing techniques and much, much more. You’ll find yourself learning an awful lot about coffee, and the world, while you’re sipping away.
Not only that but, with every subscription, Craft Coffee Club will donate to the One Tree Planted organisation – this is a non-profit organisation that organises the replanting of trees all over the world by taking care of each step, from growing saplings, to preparing land and then maintaining the trees after they have been planted.
Yeah, okay, I get it. You want to know about their coffee. For this service you need to first select what frequency that you would like to receive a box – the options are monthly, every two months or every three months. You’ll get two 250g bags of coffee with each box (with the option of adding an extra one, should you require it).
Next, you just need to select your grind size – medium, espresso or whole bean. And that’s it – you will receive coffee from one of the world’s top 5% speciality coffees and roasted by independent roasters from the UK in each box.
You don’t get the same amount of voice as you do with some of the other coffee subscriptions that we’re looking at on this list, but I’ll tell you now that the little buzz of excitement that you get when you receive a new box is far greater than any other. With the coffee, which could be anything, and the treats, it’s a real pleasure to have delivered.
The coffee is really good as well – they really do get some of the best roasters in the country to contribute towards their boxes. Not being shackled by doing it all in-house, I feel like they are much more creative and expansive with their offerings.
The Craft Coffee Club certainly offers you something different to lots of the other services, and I think this would make a fantastic gift for people that love their coffee and love experimenting with new flavours.
Blue Coffee Box
One thing we really like to do when we make lists like this, is offer you plenty of choice. So this brings us to another company that doesn’t roast the beans themselves, but finds some of the best roasters in the country to do it for them – Blue Coffee Box.
They are fully aware of how their service makes a great gift for people – in fact when you’re setting up a subscription, after the initial question about how many bags you’d like a month (1 or 2), the next thing you’re asked is whether the subscription is for you or a gift for someone else.
After that, you are asked how you would like the coffee prepared – whole beans, for a cafetiére, dripper, aeropress or espresso. They will grind the beans to your required size. That’s not the end though, as you then get to choose what sort of coffee you’d like:
- Light Roast: No oil, more flavour, more caffeine and lighter in colour
- Medium Roast: Light oils and smooth flavour
- Dark Roast: More oil, stronger roast flavour and darker in colour
- Surprise Me: They will pick a coffee for you
Then you can choose how often you would like to receive a package (every two weeks, monthly or every two months), before then choosing your payment plan – you can pay in full for a whole year, six months, three months or for one month. Obviously you’ll end up saving more money the longer you commit to it.
Some people might be put off committing to that length of time when many of the competitors are offering much more flexibility in their plans. You are able to just try it for a month, and you are able to cancel at any time, of course. It might be an idea to sign up for one month initially, and then commit to a longer period of time if you are satisfied with the service.
To be honest, I think you will be. They select some of the most delicious coffees that I have ever tried, and they even offer a Taste Guarantee, which means that if you are not fully satisfied with the coffee that you have been sent, they will send you an alternative to replace it. It all comes delivered in a 100% fast-compostable package, and they make sure that their coffee growers end up earning around 30% more than Fairtrade recommends – they care.
You get plenty of choice with Blue Coffee Box, but you can also choose to have more of a surprise and experience a wider range of coffees if you’d like to. It’s a nice balance.