There are countless options when it comes to buying a coffee mail order subscription. In this post, I’m going to list off a few coffee roasters that both excel at roasting coffee and operating a subscription service. Also, I’m going to provide some tips to help you find other roasters should the ones listed below not meet your needs.
A good coffee subscription needs to first and foremost be an excellent roaster. Then the roaster needs to have a secure web server with an easy to configure subscription options. I want to be able to control the following options:
- Roast level
- Origins or blends
- Grind size (if needed)
- Quantity per shipment
- Frequency of shipping
- Duration of subscription
Surprisingly, not all quality coffee roasters have this figured out.
Tips of Finding a Good Coffee Roaster Subscription Online
I’ve been using the following the tips for years and I’ve never ordered a coffee that I didn’t enjoy.
#1 Find the Best Coffee Roasters
When I want to try out new coffee roasters, the first place I visit is Coffee Review. Unlike the coffee reviews you see on blogs, which tend to be overly kind, Coffee Review follows a strict tasting protocol. Coffee roasters submit their coffees and the best ones get their reviews shared on the site. Coffee Review is an amazing resource.
When you get to Coffee Review, skim the reviews at first. You don’t want to fall in love with a coffee or roaster yet, because there is a decent chance that although they do an excellent job roasting coffee, they can’t run a secure website. Jot down a few roaster names before we go to the next step.
The only downside to this tip will be for readers outside the United States. Coffee Review mostly reviews coffee from roasters in North America. Another way to find excellent regional roasters is to search on the website Sprudge.
#2 Is the Roaster’s Website Secure?
A website that is secure will only be accessible via HTTPS and have a lock.
Some websites have half their site unsecured and then process the order checkout on a secure server. I would advise against shopping with these roasters or any business that leaves half their site unsecured. Besides being sloppy, there are too many cases where your name and address are passed unsecured to the order processing system. Your credit card will be fine, but you shouldn’t be forced to enter any personal info, be it name, address or email on an insecure website to complete an order.
There are also cases where the main site is secure and the store section isn’t. As you are navigating from the the home page to checkout, keep your eye on the corner of your browser to confirm the server is still secure.
This is unfortunate as Temple is a great coffee roaster.
There is no reason in 2017 for the customer not to have their entire shopping experience on a secure server.
Another clue to look for on the website includes seeing if the current year is displayed the footer of the page. That is an indicator that their site is more likely being maintained. All software requires periodically making updates. There is no way for you as a customer to know if they are maintaining their ordering system, but you can peek at the footer.
I took these screenshots on June 21, 2017. One is updated. One is a decade old. Which ordering system will you trust your credit card with more?
#3 Review the Offerings and Shopping Cart Options
Our list is probably pretty small now, so it will be easier to pick a roaster for your coffee mail order subscription. My advice now would be to search on what is most important to you. For me it will be a combination of varietals available and price. I prefer single origin coffee over blends and lighter to medium roasts over dark.
Also keep an eye out for the size. Not every bag of coffee is 12 or 16 ounces. At the time of this writing Coava Coffee out of Portland is selling bags of coffee for $15. But those bags are just 250 grams. That is less than 9 ounces! Meanwhile, a few blocks away Water Avenue Coffee is selling their 12 ounce Roaster Choice bags for $15. Both are equally great roasters, but at the same price I’ll take the extra 3 ounces of coffee with Water Avenue.
Some Picks For Coffee Mail Order Subscriptions
In the event, you don’t want to do the research described above, here are a few coffee roasters that I know are excellent and your entire shopping experience will be secure.
#1 Blue Bottle Coffee – Oakland, CA
Blue Bottle Coffee has one of the best coffee ordering systems online and their coffee is outstanding as well. For a year I had their Single Origin coffee subscription and I loved every bag I received. Inside the box they will include a card about the coffee. Blue Bottle has created a 10 question quiz to help guide you to a coffee that you will like.
#2 Paradise Coffee Roasters – Ramsey, MN
I found Paradise Coffee several years ago when I was a more active home coffee roaster. I started out buying their green coffee beans and then began buying their roasts. For years Paradise Coffee has received outstanding scores on Coffee Review for not only their single origin offerings, but for some of their espresso blends as well. Paradise Coffee is also taking the lead on seeking out specialty robusta coffee, which is a something you will hear more about in the years to come.
#3 Bows & Arrows Coffee, Victoria BC
I wanted to include an option for our readers in Canada, since shipping across borders can be expensive. When I visited Victoria in 2013, I was amazed by the excellent coffee from Bows & Arrows. Since then I’ve had had their coffee several times in cafes here in Seattle.
#4 Bean Box – Seattle, WA
Bean Box is not a roaster, but a service that works with many roasters to create unique coffee subscriptions. You chose the roast level you prefer and then they will find the coffees from roasters here in Seattle to fill your order. This is a great way to try not only different coffees, but different roasters. Bean Box is also available on Amazon USA and Amazon Canada.
A Bolder Non-Subscription Idea: Volcanica Coffee – Marietta, GA
My tastes tend to run a bit on the lighter side, so I wanted to add something more in the middle and bolder. I’ve heard good things about Volcanica Coffee.
Unlike the offerings above, they do not have a subscription plan at this time. However, Volcancia is priced better as they still use full 16 ounce bags instead of the 12 ounce bags that have become more common in the last several years. They also have a Dark Roast section if you are looking for something more rich and a High Caffeine coffee for the adventurous.
Offer until 7/31/2017: 10% Off site-wide. No minimum spend. Code: Ineedcoffee1
How Fresh is Mail Order Coffee?
All the roasters mentioned in this article have ordering systems in place that ensure the coffee is shipped fresh.
- Blue Bottle Coffee – 24 hours maximum between roasting and shipping.
- Paradise Coffee Roasters – Roasting 3 times per week. Orders shipped the same day.
- Bows & Arrows Roasters – Roasting 3 times per week. Subscriptions sent out on Monday.
- Bean Box – Shipped within 48 hours of roasting
- Volcanica Coffee – Roasted and shipped the next business day after ordering.
More Advice For Ordering Coffee Online
To save on shipping some roasters will entice you to buy more coffee at once. The upside is of course you save money on shipping. The downside is the coffee goes stale before you can consume it all.
My advice here is to buy lighter roasted coffee on large orders, as it stays fresher longer than dark roasted coffee. Also buying large quantities is a good option if you make cold brew, as older coffee tends to shine when cold brewed. Another idea is combine order from friends and family.
And I almost forgot, although all coffee roasters will grind coffee for you, I strongly advise getting your own grinder. The beans will stay fresh much longer.
Why HTTPS Matters – Google article making the case for all sites to be secure.
SiteGround Web Hosting – INeedCoffee.com uses Siteground for web hosting. They offer the Let’s Encrypt HTTPS certificate for free.
Coffee Review – An outstanding resource for discovering coffee roasters.
Green Mug photo by David Mao
Disclosures: INeedCoffee has affiliate relationships with Bean Box, Siteground and Volcanica Coffee.
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