Some Thoughts on Coffee Subscriptions

I recently spent some time talking about coffee subscriptions over on my Instagram account. The feedback was very interesting.

By the time my survey timed out 1/3 of those who responded said that they currently are enrolled in some sort of coffee subscription while the other 2/3 indicated they were not. Even just from my own conversations with coffee drinkers this seems to align with what I hear from people.

In short, coffee subscriptions are great. Except when they’re not.

Perhaps it doesn’t come as a surprise that those who have a coffee subscription truly love their subscription. And those who indicated they didn’t have one shared some very convincing reasons to support their perspective. So let’s take a closer look at some of the pros & cons of coffee subscriptions.

PROS:
  • Coffee is delivered fresh to your door…whereas sometimes when you visit a cafe selecting a coffee with a fresh roast-date can be hit or miss.
  • Getting coffee delivered in the mail feels like getting a present every month!
  • You to discover new coffee roasters in your coffee subscription that you might not otherwise select.
  • Helps with budgeting (same amount spent on coffee each month).
  • Many coffee subscriptions will also include info sheets to share more info about the coffee, farmer, processing method etc.
  • A coffee subscription sometimes can be the only way to easily get access to coffee roasters that aren’t usually available to purchase where you live (this is especially true for international roasters).
CONS:
  • Coffee subscriptions for some can be more expensive than simply purchasing locally.
  • For those who like to choose what coffee they want when they want it, this can be easier without a subscription.
  • It can be difficult to select just one coffee subscription when there are so many options to chose from.
  • Subscriptions rely on the mail system to be delivered which occasionally can lead to packages getting lost in transit.

I am quite certain this isn’t an exhaustive list of pros & cons for coffee subscriptions. In fact I am sure you could share with me some more and I would love to hear from you if you do have any comments. Feel free to leave them below.

If you are searching for a coffee subscription, what you should look for is the freedom to not be locked into a contract. Look for coffee subscriptions that allow start/stop/pause options within the user experience. I feel that the more a coffee subscription works to ensure the customers user-experience provides a sense of empowerment, the better they will be at maintaining their customers for the long-haul.

Coffee subscriptions that recognize the partnership they are creating with their users is also something to look for. This will cause them to stand out as more desirable if you’re still on the fence about embarking on a coffee subscription journey. Whether it’s connecting through Instagram stories, newsletters, or other ways, I feel the more a coffee subscription does this, the more likely they are to maintain their customers. Find one that does this well and my guess is you’ll be very happy.

INNOVATION & EMERGING TRENDS:

While many coffee subscription services seem to operate around the same model (you get x-number of coffees sent to you at x-frequency) there have been some major shifts in recent years. While many subscription services now offer flexible amounts (2bags/twice a month or 3 bags/once a month) etc. this again allows you as the customer to feel empowered.

Another emerging trend I have seen is the model where customers select a specific coffee they want from a database, then select the speed of the delivery. Customers can then essentially curate a list of their next coffees and how quickly they want those delivered. This seems to be more prevalent in the USA but I hope to see this come to Canada sooner than later.

While many coffee roasters make it clear to their customers what coffee they can expect each month there are a few that keep it a surprise. Customers simply select their preferences from either a database, or through a survey (eg: light roast, fruity/floral, origin, etc) and then coffee is selected for them based upon those indicators. If you like living on the wild side this might be your best bet.

PET PEEVES & RAMBLINGS:

I want to be clear these are simply my opinions about some of the things that I see some coffee roasters doing that I don’t like. But sometimes it’s the little things that make the different–whether for good for bad.

  • Putting company stickers on the bags: I like to collect my bags for a year-end picture and I like the look of the roaster being front and centre, instead of having a sticker haphazardly slapped on. While I get this is a branding thing, I think the box the coffee arrives in is the best place for this.

  • I had a friend recently order a coffee from a subscription service and was really excited because of the new/stylish packaging that this roaster had launched. The coffee came without some of the packaging that she was really wanting to experience. While this could simply be a mis-understanding of expectations, my personal preference is to get the original bags/box that comes from the roaster.

  • Not including “free shipping.” While I understand there is no such thing as free shipping…I don’t understand when subscriptions don’t just roll that cost into their total. Just tell me it’s $55 a month even if its technically $50 and shipping is $5 dollars. I think for any customer this makes more sense.

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So whether you’re a fan of coffee subscriptions or not they can definitely be a great way to discover new roasters, stick to a budget, and enjoy the thrill of fresh coffee arriving on your doorstep every month.

Since I know finding a coffee subscription can be a bit overwhelming, I wanted to share with you a number of options of coffee roasters available in Canada & the USA that might be worth your while. So take a look and if one works well with what you’re looking for and the budget you have then I’d encourage you to consider trying it out!

CANADA

  1. Brew Perfect Box
  2. REVii
  3. The Roasters Pack
  4. Th3rdwave
  5. Coffee Market Canada
  6. Never Better Coffee
  7. Roaster Central

USA

  1. Creama.co
  2. Trade Coffee
  3. MistoBox
  4. Dayglow Box

International/Rare Coffees

  1. Sans Coffee
  2. Forward Coffee

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So whatever you decide, whether to try out a coffee subscription or not, my hope is that you’ll at least consider it. Coffee subscriptions are truly a great way to discover new roasters, try new origins, and it does actually help you stick to a budget!

Stay Caffeinated,

Tyler

I want to be clear that I have been the recipient of a gifted coffee subscription this past year. It has definitely helped me to better understand the experience, having never done a coffee subscription before. I also want to be clear that I have done all that I could to not allow that fact to reflect a bias on this article.


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