For those who need their morning cup of joe, there’s nothing worse than getting ready to brew coffee only to find that you’ve run out of beans, grounds or single-serve pods. This conundrum is exactly what coffee subscription services aim to prevent, said Jessica Easto, author of “Craft Coffee: A Manual.” Coffee subscription services deliver coffee directly to your door at regular intervals so remembering to restock your supply is one less thing you need to worry about.
Coffee subscriptions have increased in popularity since the pandemic, much like grocery delivery services and meal delivery services, Easto said. A lot of that has to do with convenience, but coffee subscriptions also give java lovers the opportunity to try new types of coffee, or buy from local or independent roasters across the country. If you’re interested in investing in a coffee subscription or purchasing one as a gift for coffee lovers, we spoke to experts about how to choose which one is right for you and rounded up a handful of options to consider.
Best coffee subscriptions to shop this year
With expert guidance in mind, we rounded up a handful of subscriptions below that offer different types of coffees on a rotating basis, allowing you to try a variety of flavors, origins and roasts over time. The list of coffee subscription services we recommend is not exhaustive. Keep in mind that many brands and independently-owned coffee roasters offer subscription services, as do some retailers like Amazon and Boxed. If you find one coffee you love and want to get it shipped to your door on a regular basis, consider seeing if the company offers a subscription for that specific product — some even give you a discount if you subscribe, which you’ll often see called “subscribe and save.”
Easto recommends Dayglow’s coffee subscriptions if you’re looking for “an exceedingly well-curated multiroaster subscription that features international roasters, which can be hard to come by.” The company offers four types of subscriptions: Casual (one bag of coffee a month), Moderate (two bags a month), Fanatic (three bags a month) and Rareglow, which gets you a 100 gram jar of a rare, unique whole bean coffee once a month that the brand compared to fine wine. With the Casual, Moderate and Fanatic subscriptions, you’ll receive 250 to 340 grams of light to medium roast coffee beans in each shipment.
Atlas Coffee Club is a highly customizable subscription service that features single origin coffee from countries across the world, like India, Costa Rica, Brazil, Ethiopia and more. You can choose to receive ground, whole bean or Keurig-compatible recyclable coffee pods, and pick from light to medium coffee, medium to dark coffee or all roast types. You’ll also decide how much coffee or how many pods you want per shipment and how often you want to receive coffee. Additionally, if you buy ground coffee, you’ll tell the company your preferred brewing method so it can grind coffee to the appropriate size. Each shipment contains your coffee, a postcard from the country the coffee is from and tasting notes and brewing tips for each batch.
Bean Box uses the coffee preferences you share in a questionnaire to pick varieties it thinks you’ll like from small-batch, artisan roasters across the country. You can pick from whole bean or ground coffee, provide information about flavors you like (and if you want regular, espresso or decaf coffee), whether you want one or two bags of coffee per shipment and if you want coffee delivered every week, two weeks or once a month.
Nguyen Coffee Supply is one of our favorite AAPI-owned businesses. Its Discovery Kit Subscription allows you to try a variety of Vietnamese coffee beans across roasts like arabica, robusta, blends, medium and dark. The company sends you one 12-ounce bag of coffee every other week across a 12 week period (so six bags total), in addition to a coffee scoop, glass mug and Phin Filter, which is a coffee brewing tool. After you receive all six bags of coffee, your subscription automatically renews and Nguyen sends you a 12-ounce bag of its Loyalty coffee blend every other week, but you can update or cancel the subscription at any time.
Atlanta-based Portrait Coffee — one of our favorite Black-owned coffee companies — has three types of subscriptions to choose from: Baldwin’s Club, which gets you coffee every other week; An Ode to Prop Joe, which gets you coffee every two weeks; and A Seat at the Table, which gets you coffee every four weeks. You can choose if you want a 12-ounce or 5-pound shipment of whole bean or ground coffee with each subscription plan. After you sign up, the company says it handpicks new coffees for you to try on a rotating basis.
Equator Coffees — one of our favorite LGBTQ-owned businesses — gives you a handful of curated subscriptions to choose from, each of which sends you a rotating mix of coffees handpicked by the brand’s team. Subscriptions are centered around a specific type of coffee, like the Fair Trade Subscription, Blend Subscription, Single Origin Subscription and Espresso Subscription. You can decide if you want coffee shipped as whole beans or ground for your preferred brewing method, as well as if you want 12 ounces or 2 pounds of coffee delivered. You’ll also get to set a shipment schedule of your choosing.
Blue Bottle is a Select staffer favorite coffee company, and if you don’t have a cafe in your neighborhood, it offers a handful of subscriptions so you can still experience its products at home. You can choose from a variety subscriptions, some of which are centered around different flavor profiles — like the Radiant Assortment, Single Origin Assortment, Blend Assortment, Comforting Assortment and Balanced Assortment — and others of which are centered around types of coffee, like the Cold Brew Assortment and Espresso Assortment. The coffees you’ll get on a rotating basis in each subscription are curated by Blue Bottle’s experts, the brand says. You can pick if you want to get a half bag (6 ounces) or full bag (12 ounces) of coffee in each shipment, and if you want coffee to come every week, every other week, every three weeks or every four weeks.
Fellow makes one of the best electric kettles you can buy, and beyond brewing tools, the brand also works with roasters around the world to sell their coffee beans. There are two plans available through the Fellow Coffee Subscription: Classic, which gets you a mix of light or dark (your choice) single origin coffees and blends, and Premium, which gets you exclusive seasonal single origin coffees. You can choose to have shipments delivered every two or four weeks.
For those looking for a subscription that offers instant coffee, I recommend Cometeer, which works with roasters around the world. Coffee comes frozen in little pods and to make a beverage, you either melt the coffee before pouring it into cold water or milk, or melt it using hot water or milk. You can also use pods with any K-cup compatible machine. To help choose what assortment of coffees you’ll receive in each shipment, you fill out an online questionnaire that asks about your flavor preferences and how you take your coffee. Cometeer then suggests a subscription box for you, which contains 32 pods total and is packed with a variety of new seasonal coffees in each shipment.
While you fill out a questionnaire on MistoBox’s website so its algorithm can suggest coffee based on your taste preferences, you can also edit suggestions and hand-pick what’s included in your final subscription box, giving you more control over the process. The company works with roasters around the world so customers can taste coffees of varying flavor profiles, origins and roast levels. Each box comes with one 12-ounce bag of ground coffee or whole beans, and you can choose to have shipments delivered every week, two weeks, three weeks or four weeks.
What is a coffee subscription?
Coffee subscriptions deliver coffee grounds, beans or pods to your door on a consistent basis. You can usually customize how much coffee you want at a time and how often you want it delivered. Depending on which subscription you sign up for, you may be able to choose exactly what types of coffee flavors and roasts you receive.
Coffee subscriptions are a luxury for both consumers and roasters, said Quincy Henry, co-owner and CEO of Campfire Coffee in Tacoma, Washington. For the customer, subscriptions are a convenient way to ensure you don’t run out of coffee at home and “put the work of discovering new coffees on auto-pilot,” he said. For roasters, a customer base of subscribers is a steady stream of revenue that’s especially important for small, local and independently-owned businesses, he said.
How to choose a coffee subscription
Since there are so many coffee subscriptions to choose from, it can be challenging to decide which one is best for you. To help guide your shopping, experts said it’s important to think about the following factors.
Multi roaster versus single roaster
Easto said you can divide coffee subscription services into two camps: Multiroasters and single roasters. Each appeals to different types of coffee drinkers, experts told us. Understanding the difference between the two and which your coffee drinking habits align more with can help you choose a subscription service.
- Multiroasters source beans from a handful of different roasters, often on a rotating basis, Easto said. Multiroaster coffee subscriptions are best for those who like variety and are eager to try different flavors or roasts.
- Single roasters offer coffee subscription services exclusively for their coffees. Single roaster coffee subscriptions are best for people who like consistency in their cup of Joe, Easto said. They allow you to order the same type of coffee over and over again, or alternate between a few limited options all from the roaster.
Some coffee subscriptions services allow you to fill out a questionnaire online in order to match you with coffee varieties based on their algorithm. This can be helpful for those who can’t pinpoint their flavor preferences on their own. But technology isn't perfect, Henry said. If you don’t know how different roasts, flavor notes and origins impact the taste of coffee — or what you tend to gravitate towards — you may be filling out the questionnaire incorrectly. If you’re worried about this, experts recommend choosing a coffee subscription that allows you to pick exactly which beans, grounds or pods you’ll get instead of leaving it up to an algorithm or random selection. Lean towards coffee you think you might be interested in, Henry suggested. If you like it, you’ll learn what you prefer. And if you don’t like it, you’ll learn what to avoid and how to adjust the settings of your coffee subscription.
Whole beans versus coffee grounds
From a quality and freshness perspective, experts told us whole beans are best when it comes to buying coffee. Buying whole beans also allows you to grind them based on what's appropriate for your preferred brewing method, whether that be espresso, cold brew or drip coffee, for example, Henry said. But if you’re investing in a coffee subscription for the convenience it provides, having to grind the beans is an extra step you have to take before making your coffee. Additionally, many at-home baristas don’t have access to a proper coffee grinder, Henry said, which could impact how much flavor is extracted from beans. So if you don’t have a great grinder, it’s better to go with ground beans, experts told us.
How much coffee you drink at home
When you sign up for a coffee subscription, you can choose how often you want your beans, grounds or pods delivered. Before selecting an option, Easto recommends thinking about how often you make coffee at home and how much you make at one time. That way you’ll get enough coffee to cover the time between deliveries, but not too much that it starts piling up in your pantry. You’re also often able to adjust the delivery frequency through the company you sign up for a subscription with.
The pros and cons of a coffee subscription
The main benefit of coffee subscriptions is convenience, experts told us. They provide coffee drinkers with “peace of mind knowing that coffee is one less thing that [they] have to think about on [their] weekly grocery shopping visits,” Henry said. “Even if you do find a coffee you're interested in outside the scope of the subscription plan, you can add it into your rotation knowing you're going to have that fresh bag coming at regular intervals regardless,” he noted.
Easto said another benefit of coffee subscription services is that it allows you to be more adventurous in your brewing and drinking. Many grocery stores offer limited coffee selections as is, Easto said, and “people interested in buying high-quality coffee from local or independent roasters will not find many options.” Coffee subscription services give customers access to the beans, grinds or pods they’re looking for in varieties they may not be able to get easily elsewhere.
As for the cons of a coffee subscription service, Henry said, “I don't know if there's much of a 'drawback' to a coffee subscription.” However, there’s always a chance you “get a bag that, despite all the algorithmic learning some of the services provide, they end up sending you a bag they just loathe,” he noted. That’s why many subscriptions allow you to adjust your preferences at any point, and if you do get a bag you don’t like, you can always share it with someone who enjoys that type of coffee.
Is a coffee subscription worth it?
“I think coffee drinkers of all levels would probably enjoy trying new coffees and exploring the universe that is specialty coffee,” said Henry about whether coffee subscriptions are worth investing in. However, he thinks they’ll most likely appeal most to people who are “serious” coffee drinkers. Easto agreed: “The people who will get the most out of [coffee subscriptions] are likely people who already appreciate high-quality coffee, are committed to making coffee at home and are either interested in supporting coffee roasters or trying new coffees from around the country (or globe).”
Meet our experts
At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure that all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and with no undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.
- Jessica Easto is a writer and editor based in Northwest Indiana. Her book“Craft Coffee: A Manual” was named a top food and drink book of 2017by The Food Network, Wired, Sprudge and Booklist. Her follow up book, which is about coffee flavor and palate development, will be published in fall 2023.
- Quincy Henry started Campfire Coffee alongside his wife Whitni in March 2020. Based in Tacoma, Washington, Campfire is a black-owned, woman-owned and veteran-owned open-flame wood fire coffee roaster. Campfire currently offers a subscription coffee service through a partnership with USRowing where subscribers can try wood fired coffees and support diversity in the sport of Rowing across the country.