The Best Coffee Subscriptions
A closer look at the world of coffee subscriptions, from a coffee subscription!
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, exploring unique flavors and processes while enjoying consistently high quality.
There are tons of coffee subscriptions, 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 what coffee subscriptions are and what's out there in 2020. 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. We're just providing this information to help you evaluate your subscription choices)
The main thing you'll need to decide is whether you'd like a single-roaster or multi-roaster subscription. Let's talk about what that means, and which one you might like to try.
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! Since we became a single-roaster subscription we've really increased the quality of the coffee we ship our members. Being in charge of our coffee from bean to box allows us to deliver an experience we're proud of, and give people the chance to try it for free!
Some other single-roaster subscriptions include:
Atlas Coffee Club®
Atlas is a monthly coffee club that really focuses on the global nature of coffee. They offer different coffee each month from a few coffee-producing countries, 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 means they operate large scale, which is where blends become a useful tool. All our subscriptions are single-origin beans that we roast in-house to maximize their uniqueness - sort of the opposite of a blend. We figure if you're getting regular shipments, may as well take advantage of the variety specialty coffee has to offer.
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.
Some other multi-roaster subscriptions include:
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!
Is a coffee subscription right for me?
If you're a frequent or daily drinker a weekly or biweekly subscription will keep your kitchen stocked with fresh beans that will always taste their absolute best.
If you're the occasional sipper a monthly or smaller-sized subscription makes it easy to enjoy a variety of unique flavors and regions.
The key is picking the right size and frequency to keep coffee arriving as you're running out, which keeps your beans fresh and cups tasty. You'll want to be able to adjust your shipments to meet your needs. (We have an account panel for this, but other subscriptions have various ways of managing plans.)
How will I know if I like the coffee?
Honestly, you won't know until you try it - but that's part of the fun! We offer a free trial, and other subscriptions may offer money off your first shipment. Sample a few and see which strikes your fancy.
Just make sure you understand the billing schedule and cancellation policy for your subscription when you sign up. We bill for each bag when the beans are headed to the roaster and process cancellations via email anytime - but other subscriptions may differ, so check when you sign up to avoid any surprises. (Coffee can't be un-roasted, so most subscriptions don't offer refunds after an order is processed.)Have more questions? Check out our FAQ to learn more about our subscription, or contact us with any other coffee or subscription-related questions.