Coffee Subscription Comparison
A closer look at the world of coffee subscriptions
Here at Moustache Coffee Club, we're big believers in the subscription model. Since coffee is a consumable good, it makes a lot of sense to have fresh beans arrive just as you've run out. A well-managed subscription can help you drink a wide variety of freshly-roasted coffees throughout the year, and help the roaster only roast what people will actually drink, which cuts down on waste. Wins for everybody involved.
Coffee subscriptions are such a good idea that there are many companies offering them, all with different approaches to freshness, sourcing, roasting, and more. Obviously, we think that our own subscription is the best, but we wanted to give a brief overview of some other popular subscriptions out there. Even if you decide not to get coffee from us (which is a bummer), we firmly believe that subscriptions are the future of coffee at home, and we want to give you some information on the landscape.
Disclaimer: we are not affiliated in any way with the businesses below, and are providing this information to help interested parties evaluate their subscription choices
Single-roaster subscriptions are managed by a single coffee company and have a couple major benefits, the main one being consistency. If the same company is roasting your coffee each week, you can trust that the quality of the roast will be similar with each shipment, even if the coffee beans themselves vary. This can help you dial in your brews faster, and enjoy more coffee! With a single-roaster subscription, you can also trust that the company is sourcing consistently, finding beans of the same quality year-round and following the same trading practices when compensating coffee producers.
We're a single-roaster subscription - we roast everything we ship - and we do that because we think it's the best way to share consistently amazing cups of coffee with our members! We even offer a free trial, because we think that since we became a single-roaster subscription we've really increased the quality of the coffee we sell. We're proud of the effort that goes into our beans, and we think that you'll be able to taste the difference.
Atlas Coffee Club®
Atlas is a monthly coffee club that really focuses on the global nature of coffee. They offer a different coffee each month from a different coffee-producing country, with the option to receive shipments monthly or every two weeks.
What we think: We're all about drinking the best coffees in the world, so we co-sign the general concept. We started with a coffee-of-the-month set-up too, but the challenge was getting enough variety for frequent drinkers who wanted multiple coffees per month. (The world is a big place, after all). Now we have a rotating selection of coffees available any time from in-season regions.
Blue Bottle Coffee®
Blue Bottle made a name for itself early on in the specialty coffee scene, and is now majority held by Nestle. They have a network of cafes and retail presence in grocery stores, and also sell blends and single origin coffees via subscription ranging from weekly to monthly.
What we think: We really admire the design of Blue Bottle, from their cafes to their website everything is polished and looks great. Being a mass-market company with retail spaces means they operate on a large scale, which is where blends become a useful tool. All our subscriptions are premium, single-origin beans that we roast in-house to maximize their unique flavors - the opposite of a blend. Our entire focus is on being the best subscription possible for fresh coffee that always ships same-day.
Driftaway Coffee is a single-roaster subscription out of New York City that sources and roasts single-origin coffees. They have 4 different taste 'profiles' and source a different coffee for each profile every month. They're travel-themed similar to Atlas, with airport-code style tags for their coffees.
What we think: These folks seems like a solid coffee of the month club, with 4 options for coffees you can receive each month. It's cool to see another single-origin subscription offering options because we find that people really enjoy trying multiple coffees each month. We almost always have more than 4 coffees available, and we introduce new ones on a rolling basis every week - variety is fun for us as well as our members!
Multi-Roaster subscriptions send you coffees from different roasters, either from around their city or around the country. The main advantage here is variety: you get to try a bunch of different roasters and collect a bunch of colorful coffee bags, which can be fun.
We actually started out this way in 2013, but we found that the multi-roaster set-up can negatively impact quality. Some roasters use subscriptions as a way to off-load inventory that isn't selling well in their cafes, and some roasters just plain aren't that good at roasting. Multi-roaster subscriptions, by focusing on having a wide selection of roasters, open themselves up to lower quality coffee and less-than-stellar roasting. It's truly a mixed bag (pun intended). And in order for everybody to make money, the subscription has to either charge a premium on top of the roaster's normal price or ask for discounted rates from roasters (which further incentivizes them to use their cheap and under-performing beans). Multi-roasters can be a good way to see what's out there, but be aware that there's good and bad out there.
Trade recently entered the subscription arena with a flurry of social media buzz. Owned by JAB Holdings, they have a quiz that works sort of like a "choose-your-own-adventure" book - making a recommendation on which coffee from their many roasters you might like. Their subscriptions offer blends or single-origins, and include variable pricing, charging you a different price depending on which roaster's coffee ships to you (which is fairly unique among subscriptions).
What we think: Trade stands out among multi-roasters for their slick user interface and deals with some larger roasters. We applaud the quiz, because we've found that customization is key in a coffee subscription. We use an artificial intelligence that Sean built to read and consider customer feedback when selecting what coffees to ship our subscribers next (if they don't choose for themselves). A little nerdier than a quiz, but coffee fans appreciate nerdiness, right?
Bean Box is a multi-roaster subscription that ships different coffees from roasters in Seattle (and now Portland). They ship a sampler set of four 2oz coffees, or a 12oz bag of their coffee-of-the-month. They offer blends and single-origins, as well as a hearty dose of Pacific Northwest nostalgia.
What we think: The locality of this subscription is fun and really plays on the reputation of Seattle as a coffee city. If you grew up there, it could be fun to see your old favorites again. While we aren't based in Seattle, we definitely ship there! And all of our coffee roasts and ships same-day, so it'll arrive at the peak of freshness... no matter where you are!
MistoBox is another subscription that works with different roasters all over the country. They offer a few different 'tiers' of coffee via subscription, ranging from cheaper blends to their 'exclusive' tier that ships single-origins. They also have a 'coffee curator' that helps you make selections of coffees you might enjoy in your subscription.
What we think: Their coffee curator seems like a good idea considering how many roasters they work with. We curate all our coffees obsessively - starting with green beans all the way through to how they're roasted and which ones we ship to which members. Everything we ship has been tasted by pretty much the whole team here, which is another reason why we love roasting our own beans. We feel confident in the coffee every time we send it your way!