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 coffee 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 for 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 coffee 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 advice 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 Google or Bing with the keyword Sprudge. Sprudge is a top resource for discovering new coffee roasters and cafes. Example: “sprudge Los Angeles“.
#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 a 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 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 for 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 Atlas Coffee Club – Austin, TX
Atlas Coffee Club uses a travel theme to provide Single Origin coffees from around the world. Each coffee is shipped with a postcard from the region. Their subscription checkout allows you to customize the number of bags, how often you will receive the shipment, roast level preference, and grind size from a single easy-to-follow screen.
I had three of their coffees and enjoyed them all. The Colombian was great on the AeroPress and the Ethiopian made an excellent cold brew.
#4 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.
#5 Angel’s Cup (Multi-roaster)
If you want to try a lot of coffee from a lot of different roasters, go with Angel’s Cup. Angel’s Cup works directly with many of the best coffee roasters in the country. Samples are shipped to customers without labels. You try the coffee and enter your feedback on each coffee via their app. Then later the coffee is revealed.
Angel’s Cup is a great option if your goal is to really improve your tasting skills. Check out their website to learn more about their program and how the iOS and Android apps help coffee drinks record their experiences.
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.
- Atlas Coffee Club – “When you order it, we roast it and ship it!”
- Bows & Arrows Roasters – Roasting 3 times per week. Subscriptions sent out on Monday.
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 to combine orders 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.
SiteGround Web Hosting – INeedCoffee.com uses SiteGround for web hosting. They offer the Let’s Encrypt HTTPS certificate for free.
Why HTTPS Matters – Google article making the case for all sites to be secure.
Coffee Review – An outstanding resource for discovering coffee roasters.
Green Mug photo by David Mao
Disclosures: INeedCoffee has an affiliate relationship with SiteGround and Angel’s Cup.