Coffee subscription services are on FIRE. The surge in their popularity makes sense – who wouldn’t like a box of freshly roasted coffee showing up on their door like magic?
Freshly roasted coffee, new exotic flavours, customisation and tips, no driving to the coffee shop? Shut-up and take my money!
But don’t get trigger happy and sign up to just any online coffee of the month club.
I’ve noticed a wave of less-than-desirable (i.e – shit) services popping up. They just waste your time by cutting corners, and resell beans at a premium. Not fresh, not exotic (but the marketing makes you think so!).
We’ve created this guide to help you find the best monthly coffee subscription for you. Yes – we had to test coffee. Ah, life is hard sometimes.
TOP PICK: DRIFTAWAY Coffee Subscription
You wake up to yet another batch of sweet, exotic, flavour-bursting beans from a far away corner of the world.
And again, it’s roasted to absolute perfection. What will tomorrow’s coffee box bring?
Driftaway transforms your mornings and, using your tastebuds, teleports you across the world.
It’s the little things that matter for these subscriptions, and they do the little things WELL.
What To Look For In A Coffee Subscription Service
It can seem daunting to find the right coffee subscription so it’s easiest to focus on a few key features of these coffee of the month clubs.
Does the coffee offering match my desires?
The first thing you should consider when looking for the right subscription service is, naturally, the coffee itself. What coffees does the subscription offer? Where do the beans come from and how do they source their beans?
As far as roasting there are two kinds of monthly coffee club membership companies:
As far as the variety of coffees from a subscription go, there are two different approaches you can take:
- If you like trying lots of different coffees, look for a coffee of the month club that gives you new coffees (new to you) in each subscription box.
- If you have strong preferences and already know what you like, look for a coffee of the month box that offers subscriptions for the kinds of coffee you know and like it.
Need some inspiration for what you could get in a coffee subscription? Check out our guide to selecting the best coffee beans here.
Can You Customise the Coffee Type (And Grind Size?)
Some subscriptions allow you to customize your online coffee club membership while others offer only fixed services. These are curated by professionals but often fairly inflexible.
If you want to actively choose exactly what you’ll get in the mail, look for a coffee of the month club with the following:
- A service that tells you what coffees will be sent to you in advance, and will allow you to pick and switch varieties or roasts. Some services will tell you what’s coming in the mail, but won’t allow you to make changes.
- An option to customise the grind size. Some coffee subscription services will grind the beans but with some boxes, you might only get one or two options – like “espresso” or “coarse.” Using a grind size that is just right for your coffee brewing method is crucial to ensure perfect extraction.
If you want to leave it up to the company to decide the details of your coffee box, look for the following:
- A coffee subscription that ships whole beans. If you’re not interested in picking the grind size, or if you want the flexibility to grind the coffee yourself for different brewing methods, this is the option for you. Most coffee connoisseurs opt for grinding their beans at home anyway for best results, and you might not want to be bothered to pick what grind they’ll use for each coffee.
- A coffee subscription that curates coffees and roast types based on your preferences or your feedback to a sample box. This is the best way to try beans that the coffee professionals at each coffee box company believe are truly great.
How Will This “Coffee Of the Month” Club Be Delivered?
While the internet has made it seem like everything is just one click away, in reality, some coffee subscriptions have better delivery options than others.
You want a service that offers fast, safe and affordable delivery. Furthermore, you need to make sure they deliver in your area! If you’re buying from abroad, speed is even more important – coffee doesn’t stay fresh for long.
The frequency of delivery is also something that you should consider. the better companies offer a few different schedules for delivery. Make sure your coffee subscription box of choice offers the kind of frequency you really want and need.
Sit down and work out how much coffee you need per week. Then, look for a coffee subscription that will get you as much as you need, but not more. There’s no point in getting coffee once a week if it takes you two weeks to get through a bag; conversely, few things are as annoying as running out of coffee all the time – a monthly coffee club might not be enough for you.
Customer Service – Does It Make You Cry Or Smile?
IMPORTANT: YOU WANT A SUBSCRIPTION COMPANY THAT LISTENS TO THEIR CUSTOMERS.
Whether it’s positive or negative feedback, it’s nice to have a channel for honest communication.
Some companies, for example, encourage you to send any special requests along with your coffee subscription order and they’ll do their best to accommodate.
Many coffee subscription companies have a strong social media presence and websites, making them easier to reach.
test their service by sending them a question before you subscribe something practical like “will you be able to grind the beans to suit my brewing method?”
If the company gets back to you soon and they’re happy to help, GO FOR IT! If anything seems really off with their customer service process, maybe find a subscription from someone who’s more in touch with people.
An even SIMPLER way is to try our favourite option: Driftaway
Do They Deliver Fair Trade Coffee?
If you care about truly great coffee and the people who work to get you each bag of specialty beans, then consider how each company sources their beans.
Most coffee of the month clubs on this list emphasize paying farmers fair prices for coffee and supporting sustainability all along the supply chain.
Paying farmers fairly means supporting them to grow better coffee and improve practices, but an exclusively fair trade coffee subscription service isn’t the only model.
Some coffee club membership companies on this list view fair trade prices as too low to support farmers. This is of course up for debate, but many companies that are not technically fair trade coffee subscriptions instead verify the farms’ practices firsthand and pay them directly. This also allows companies to ensure the coffee is of the highest quality.
What’s The Best Coffee Subscription Box Of 2018?
Ok…..now you’re armed. Armed with knowledge, that is.
Knowledge of what makes a good coffee subscription, and what makes a bad one.
There are lots of these businesses popping up each month so rather than try every one of them, here are 11 coffee subscriptions that we think, in simple terms, are RAD.
#1 – Mistobox
(For Explorers and the Habit-Builders)
The Mistobox Coffee Rundown:
- Customisation: Whole Bean vs. Grounds; Roast Type; Variety of Coffee (Single Origin, Espresso, Blend, or “Not Sure”); Frequency (Every 1-4 weeks)
- Freshness: Roasted to order and shipped directly
- Cost: $$
- Roasting: Sourced from some of the best roasters in the U.S.
- Sourcing standards: There’s no blanket policy on sourcing, but they offer many direct trade and fair trade coffees.
Mistobox has been riding a wave of loyal followers’ support since its establishment in 2011. With Kickstarter funding and a win on the TV show Shark Tank, Mistobox is now one of the biggest names in the coffee subscriptions business.
Mistobox sources from 50 different expert roasters around the U.S. such as Ruby and Verve. You select the roast, but not the grind (with coffee this good, maybe it’s for the better – always grind your own coffee fresh, if you can). You can also opt for single origin coffees, espressos or blends.
Every 1-4 weeks (it’s up to you), they ship 12 ounces of high-quality coffee direct to you.
There are a couple of places Mistobox could improve – if only because nobody’s perfect. Not all roasters include roast dates, and they only ship within the US. Also, Mistobox used to offer an option of “Adventure” vs. “Favorite” subscriptions, but they seem to have dropped this – after you tell Mistobox your preferences, the specific coffees are up to them.
Mistobox scores VERY high for user experience. Their website is beautiful and simple, and they walk you through a short quiz to find the best coffee subscription service that works for you. They also offer lots of information about their coffee and guides to coffee-making.
A strong social media presence makes them easy to reach for queries and feedback.
Best SUITED for: Coffee appreciators looking for high-quality roasters and customisation (without too much specificity or upkeep).
#2 – Driftaway Coffee (For Those Who Want Freshness + Variety)
The Driftaway Coffee Rundown:
- Customisation: 7 oz., 11 oz., 1 pound or 2 pounds per delivery; as far as varietals and roasts, you indicate preferences and provide feedback, and they do the rest.
- Freshness: Seriously fresh. Shipped directly within 6 hours of roasting.
- Cost: $$$
- Roasting: Single-origin beans roasted in-house.
- Sourcing standards: They source from fair trade, direct trade and Rainforest Alliance-certified farms, but also lay out the varied and complex ways they support farmers here.
Click the button above and use the coupon code “HGTHANKS” for an exclusive discount on Driftaway coffee
Driftaway promises single-origin coffees sourced directly from farmers, and roasted for you in-house less than 6 hours before delivery.
Did you hear me…LESS THAN 6 HOURS! We’re not even sure how they pull it off. It’s hard to get coffee roasted that freshly from your local coffee shop!
This means each delivery from your subscription will be fresh and full of flavour. The first time our tastebuds tried truly fresh coffee, it was a batch of Driftaway beans.
The Brooklyn-based company offers three different size options (from 7 ounces to 32 ounces at each delivery) and three frequency options (weekly, fortnightly or monthly).
The journey begins with a tasting kit of four 2 oz. bags of single origin beans. Based on your feedback, they then curate your shipments to fit your taste profile.
The team has also developed their own app which lets coffee enthusiasts rate and review the coffees they receive, giving the company more data to help select the right beans for your subscription.
Driftaway is all about coffee learning and appreciation. They launched an incredibly innovative “Farmer feedback” program, allowing customers to send their observations and feedback directly to the farmers. Also, they now offer an option that includes a book of coffee knowledge with the subscription once per month, with wisdom and stories on everything from growing to brewing.
As the coffee industry is generally lacking in transparency, it’s refreshing that Driftaway has been trying to establish a more open channel of communication between coffee farmers and specialty coffee appreciators.
Driftaway also has an Office Coffee subscription option, which brings the price down to $10/pound, with free delivery in the U.S and brewing and equipment support.
Best suited for: Coffee appreciators who want freshness with a world of variety and expertise.
#3 – Angels’ Cup
(For Experience Seekers)
The Angels’ Cup Coffee Rundown:
- Customisation: Pick a single 12 oz. bag, a 4.6 oz. box with four small samples, or an 11 oz. box with four larger samples; for samplers, select coarse grind, fine grind or whole beans, and roast type.
- Freshness: Their freshest coffee arrives 3-5 days after roasting,
- Cost: $
- Roasting: Angels’ Cup repacks coffee from specialty roasters around the country, including lesser-known roasters.
- Sourcing standards: They pay farmers above fair trade prices and emphasize sourcing beans from farms that the roasters of visited firsthand.
Angels’ Cup is a new kid on the block. Founded in 2015, this subscription box has a solid following and is big on the “discovery” aspect, sourcing high-quality coffee from a variety of roasters. They pack their coffee in simple bags, identified only by a number – no fancy branding or hype. After you’ve tried the brew, you can look up the origin and roast.
The Angels’ Cup philosophy is “Never the same thing twice – once something is gone, it’s gone forever.“ They’ll give you a chance to try 208 different coffees in a single year, if you play it right.
If the thought of this makes you go weak in the knees and reach for your grinder, Angel’s Cup is the right choice. If it makes your palms sweat, maybe look elsewhere.
Angels’ Cup offers whole beans and ready-ground options. They also let you select your roast preference.
Their most popular option is the All Stars coffee subscription box, which ships a full 12-ounce bag of a top-rated coffee every week. The coffee is selected based on customer reviews of coffees from their other subscription plans.
They also built an app where users can review the coffee they’ve received, feeding data back into Angel Cup’s beautiful machine of coffee discovery They ship internationally, though it’ll cost you a bit and the coffee won’t be as fresh.
Best suited for: The curious adventure seeker.
#4 – Crema Coffee Subscription (For Those Who Know What They Want)
The Crema Coffee Rundown:
- Customisation: Pick exactly which coffees you want, how much, and when; whole beans only.
- Freshness: Roasted and drop-shipped to order
- Cost: $$$
- Roasting: Pick the coffees you really want from some of the best roasters in the country.
- Sourcing standards: They source all of their coffees direct-trade from the farmers. Some are fair trade-certified.
Crema lets subscribers take a more active role in selecting what goes into their coffee subscriptions, delighting those who like researching and delving deep into the background of their coffee.
After signing up, create your personal “Brew list”: a “coffee playlist”/wishlist for coffee you would like to try. You can search for coffees to add to your list based on various criteria like region and roaster, or have their website suggest options for you. Crema then ships you the coffees from your list based on your shipping preferences.
If you’d rather start with a sampler pack, Crema does that too. Try three coffees, rate them, and use this data to build a subscription that fits you – Crema stores all of it in your Brew Log for you – a record of coffees you’ve tried during your subscription and their characteristics. You can pause or cancel deliveries from your coffee list as needed.
Crema sources their coffee from popular and lesser-known roasters, including Ritual, Onyx and Upper Left Roasters. The Crema website also features introductions and interviews with coffee farmers.
The well-designed webpage contains plenty of information on these roasters, letting users become familiar with them before ordering a subscription.
It’s not so much a subscription service as a kind of Amazon of coffee – this can be a pro or a con, depending on your viewpoint.
They employ a drop-shipping method, meaning the coffees are shipped directly from the roaster to ensure maximum freshness.
Best suited for: Discerning coffee lovers who know what they want.
#5 – Bean Box (For True Coffee Snobs)
The Bean Box Coffee Rundown:
- Customisation: Pick your perfect roast level and taste profile; choose a 7.2 oz. box with 4 coffee samplers, or a 12 oz. bag; you can also order a specific coffee.
- Freshness: Shipped within 48 hours of roasting
- Cost: $$$
- Roasting: The best of Seattle’s specialty roasters (and a few from Portland).
- Sourcing standards: They carefully vet the sourcing of each roaster they work with, and lay out some of their thoughts on fair trade vs. direct trade here.
Bean Box is hitting a very specific, albeit pretty large section of the coffee market. Namely, they only ship coffee from Seattle’s best roasters (no, not that Seattle’s Best). Seattle is known as one of the leading third wave coffee cities of the world.
Even from this seemingly narrow pool, Bean Box has been able to provide a regularly-changing subscription box. They work with 30 roasters who source from some of the world’s leading green coffee buyers, and they’ve built an impressive library of coffees. They’ve recently added some roasters from Portland as well, and offer a free trial box to help you get to know some of their selection.
Roasts can be customised, with 5 different options available. There are several subscription options, but the most popular are the Bean Box Coffee Sampler, featuring four 1.8-ounce bags from Seattle heavy hitters, and the Coffee of the Month, delivered in a regular 12-ounce bag.
Roasters include Slate, Zoka and Herkimer, all well-known names in the artisan coffee world.
Coffee is shipped within 2 days of roasting, free of charge within the US. For a quick reminder of why it’s so important to use fresh beans, Bean Box has you covered:
Best suited for:
Coffee enthusiasts wanting a virtual tour of this third wave coffee mecca (and people who wish they were in Seattle or who like a little grunge with their sprudge).
#6 – Atlas Coffee Club
(For the Coffee Nomads)
The Atlas Coffee Rundown:
- Customisation: Choose shipments of 6 oz., 12 oz., 24 oz., or more; two options for roast type; choose whole beans or grounds, but no option to specify grind
- Freshness: Atlas emphasizes freshness, but they don’t give any details or data.
- Cost: $$
- Roasting: Single-origin beans roasted in-house.
- Sourcing standards: For all their coffees, they pay above-market prices to farmers who use sustainable practices, and 50-60% of their beans are fair trade, direct trade or similar.
Atlas Coffee Club is a subscription that’s all about getting to know the coffee-producing regions of the world through freshly roasted, single origin beans. They give you a “world tour” through your coffee cup, connecting you to the farmers and varietals that you’re passionate to know more about.
They roast each single origin coffee specially to bring out the unique flavors and aromas characteristic of that region, and include brewing tips and flavor notes with your coffee subscription box.
The coffee bags feature beautiful custom designs that reflect the cultures and environment of the country of origin. Each subscription box includes a postcard from the country as well.
Best suited for: The coffee appreciator who’s passionate about their brew’s country of origin.
#7 – Blue Bottle Coffee
(For Those Who Want Gold Class)
The Blue Bottle Coffee Rundown:
- Customisation: Choose a 6 oz. or 12 oz. bag; every two weeks or every four weeks; pick one of their 8 roasts; whole beans only.
- Freshness: Roasted to order and in the mail within 48 hours
- Cost: $$$
- Roasting: Blue Bottle offers 11 of their famous roasts.
- Sourcing standards: Some of their beans are fair trade. They emphasize supporting all farmers to improve their sustainability and the quality of the coffee.
If you’ve been going the extra mile to make truly great coffee at home, then you don’t need us to introduce you to Blue Bottle Coffee. Their online coffee subscriptions are for coffee enthusiasts who want expertly roasted beans from some of the best lots in the world – including beans like Kenya Nyeri Kigwandi, and Myanmar Shan State Pha Yar Gyi Gone.
Blue Bottle offers subscriptions to any of their 8 blends as well as espresso, blend and single origin assortments. Unlike with many subscriptions on this list, you’ll have to choose the coffee for yourself – though they do have a quiz to find your coffee match (it even asks you your favorite salad dressing).
In a sense, their subscription is more like regular home delivery for the same products you could buy in-store than a curated coffee box.
It’s all whole beans with Blue Bottle, but like we’ve told you before, if you can spare the time to grind, the absence of a pre-ground option is definitely for the best.
They offer decaf subscriptions and ship internationally to a short list of countries, for now.
Best suited for: The coffee connoisseur who wants the gold standard in specialty coffee.
#8 – Craft Coffee (For Value Hunters)
The Craft Coffee Rundown:
- Customisation: Choose a single origin or blend, roasted in house; choose a 12 oz. bag or a 3-variety sampler (4 oz./sample); whole beans or pick from 3 grind options; customize your delivery cycle
- Freshness: Shipped within 24 to 72 hours of roasting.
- Cost: $
- Roasting: They roast all their own beans.
- Sourcing Standards: All beans purchased above fair-trade prices.
Craft Coffee subscriptions are all about bringing you high-quality, freshly roasted coffees that are new to you, without costing you more than you’d pay at the grocery store. They roast it all in-house and ship your coffee box within 72 hours of roasting.
Take their survey to get a recommendation for the best coffees to start your subscription, or try their famous 3-variety sampler pack – a gateway to the world of specialty coffee for many who are just getting into home brewing. Even if you’re not too concerned about price yourself, a Craft Coffee subscription could be a great gift for someone in your life who you hope will wake up to the possibilities of amazing home-brewed coffee.
Best suited for: Coffee lovers who want to invest in good beans but always buy the same old blend at the grocery store every time.
#9 – Java Presse
(Simple, Super Fresh, Delivered fast)
The Java Presse Coffee Rundown:
- Customisation: Each delivery is one 12 oz. bag of a microlot; all whole beans; each single origin has its own specific roast; delivered every 1-4 weeks
Shipped within 2 hours (!!) of roasting. Wait, really? Wow.
- Cost: $$
- Roasting: Roasted fresh when you order – this is the only way they could do it (see Freshness, above).
- Sourcing Standards: All coffees purchased direct-trade from the farmers.
Java Presse is all about simply bringing people happiness by helping them brew really good coffee at home. If the simple joy of great coffee is one of the reasons you’re taking your coffee home brewing game to the next level, Java Presse could be the best coffee of the month service for you. The thing is, they also just might offer the freshest coffee of any coffee subscription on this list.
They’re all about connecting with coffee lovers who share their values and this is reflected in their commitment to responsible, sustainable sourcing. The folks at Java Presse vet each farm, looking into their farming techniques, their environmental impact and business practices.
They also honor the work these farmers are putting in by making sure you can enjoy their coffee as freshly roasted as possible – they ship your coffee box within 2 hours of roasting. We don’t know how they manage this, but it’s evidence of a truly impressive commitment to great coffee, customers and farmers.
As they say it, they’re “on a mission to make happiness contagious.”
Best suited for: People who realize one of the keys to happiness just might be an amazing cup of really, really fresh coffee.
#10 – Heart Coffee
(For Coffee Noobs)
The Heart Coffee Rundown:
- Customisation: Each delivery is one 16 oz. bag; custom grind available on request; roaster chooses the coffees
- Freshness: Shipped within 1-5 days of roasting
- Cost: $$$
- Roasting: They roast all their own coffee, sourced directly from origin.
- Sourcing standards: All coffees purchased above fair trade prices.
Heart Coffee Roasters is an artisan coffee roaster in Portland that offers subscriptions for simple, high-quality coffee delivered to your door. They work directly with coffee growers in Latin America and Africa, supporting the farmers to produce incredible coffees. Heart then finds the perfect roast for each coffee lot’s unique characteristics, so you don’t have to worry picking light vs. dark for your whole subscription.
They also stand out by making the subscription process amazingly simple – tell them how often you want coffee and for how long, and they’ll ship you a 1-pound bag every 1-4 weeks. Their default is whole beans-only, but don’t be fooled – when you place your subscription order, there’s a clear place for special instructions where you can write the exact grind you want (maybe even tell them your brewing method too).
This video helps you get a sense of Heart Coffee Roasters and why they do what they do:
“Here’s your cup of coffee,” or if it’s too long, this one on roasting.
The price may be a bit higher than others on this list, but they ship free and it might be worth it if you want the consistency of a single roaster subscription.
Best suited for: People who want a simple, high-quality, highly-customisable subscription.
#11 – Joyride Coffee
(For The Office)
The Joyride Coffee Rundown:
- Customisation: It’s all up to you
- Freshness: Depends on the roaster
- Cost: Depends on subscription
- Roasting: Joyride roasts some of their own coffees, but also offer beans from high-quality roasters around the country.
- Sourcing standards: Direct-trade, often 2-3 times fair trade prices
Joyride Coffee is on a mission to help teams of coffee appreciators get high-caliber brew into their offices. They’ll bring you premium coffees and the gear to help you and your co-workers enjoy craft coffee at your desks (or yoga balls, couches… wherever the hip kids sit these days).
Joyride is working hard to stamp out the bad connotations of “office coffee” – it doesn’t have to be burnt-tasting sludge or watery sh**. Get these folks on your team, and you can have a subscription for cold brew on tap and specialty coffees from the country’s best small roasters: Blue Bottle, Counter Culture, Intelligentsia, Stumptown… you get the idea – the office just got so much better.
To do all this awesome artisan coffee justice, Joyride provides professional-quality batch brewers as a subscription add-on. Better yet, they’ll teach everyone how to brew a mean cup of coffee on the fancy Joyride rigs.
They even do this for office espresso. They warn that it’s a risky move and a lot to manage, but Joyride will bring you a La Marzocco espresso rig and teach your officemates to use it! Maybe ask the new intern to manage all this – your team isn’t the type to make them fetch you coffees, but if they could churn out a couple macchiatos… maybe there is an opening at the company for them.
One sad note: they only offer subscriptions with offices and cafes in Los Angeles, New York and the Bay Area.
Best suited for: Anyone with an office where valuing great coffee is just part of the culture – when buying another cheap coffee pot just doesn’t feel right…
THE VERDICT – It Really Depends On Your Personal Preference..
So what’s the best coffee subscription service?
In the end, it comes down to your personal needs and preferences.
All of the subscription coffee clubs included in this article offer a high standard of coffee and service – it’s the small differences that count.
Our #1 choice – Driftaway.
Why? As I get older, I realize that the little things ARE the big things. This is especially true for monthly coffee clubs. The team behind Driftaway take care of the little things, and it shine through in their product and service. Try them out – you’ll see what I mean.
If you are not entirely sure of which you should choose take this 30 second quiz and the answer will be clear: