Whether you’re a veteran speciality coffee lover, or you’re just discovering the world of gourmet coffee, there’s one thing you need – a great UK source of freshly roasted, amazing coffee beans. But where is the best place to buy coffee beans online?
The first thing I would say is that the best place to buy them IS online, unless you happen to have a coffee roaster local enough to pop in. The reason I say that, is that buying online gives you such a great range of choice.
So where is the best place to buy coffee beans online?
Directly from the websites of UK coffee roasters
We’re really lucky in the UK now, that we have such a wealth of craft coffee roasters. There are roughly 400 UK coffee roasters the list of UK coffee roasters, and I know I’ve not got all of them, I’m continually looking for ones that I’ve missed, and I get comments, emails and tweets on a regular basis from helpful folk letting me know of other Roasters I wasn’t aware of. Nearly all of them sell online, I think if you’re in any kind of business now and you don’t have a way to sell online, you’re not going to do much business, unless it’s a particular business type that isn’t suited to Ecommerce.
Coffee subscriptions have become really popular over the past year or two. It’s a good model both for the roaster and the customer. The roaster can manage their stock better with subscription orders, and customers can ensure they don’t run out of coffee – and they get to try various different coffees.
I’m a customer of three subscription coffee companies at the moment (I drink a lot of coffee) – Pact Coffee, Django Coffee Co and Hasbean. Interestingly, all three were recently featured in the Independent ‘Indybest’ guide to the top 7 coffee subscriptions in the UK.
Pact Coffee have a really good subscription setup. It’s very easy to join, to manage the frequency of your orders, to pause or cancel orders, and to choose which coffee you would like. They have some lovely coffees, and now offer three price levels – House, Select, and Micro Lot. They do Nespresso compatible pods now (just click ‘get started’ on their website and choose pods), which are very, very nice! I’ve just ran out, agghh – that will be because the kids keep nicking them ;-). Click here for a £5 off pact coffee.
Django Coffee Co are a smaller roaster who offer another great subscription service. They have some very, very nice coffees – they do some great looking gift sets too if you’re looking for coffee or a coffee subscription as a gift for someone – or as a hint for someone else to get for you ;-). The Django coffee subscription works differently to pact, instead of signing up to pay weekly, fortnightly or monthly (depending on the frequency of your orders), with Django you can opt to buy a one month or three-month subscription up front – or an ongoing subscription.
Hasbean coffee are one of the leading coffee roasters in the UK. They have a really wide range, and the “In My Mug” subscription runs along with the In My Mug videos in which Steve from Hasbean tells us everything we need to know about the next coffee to be dispatched, including where it’s grown and what taste notes to expect. I really enjoy Steve’s videos – and of course the coffee!
If you’re looking for a subscription, I don’t think you can go wrong with either of the three above. Many of the roasters on the list of UK coffee roasters also offer subscriptions though, so you have lots of options.
Deals and Offers
Many coffee roasters have mailing lists that you can sign up to on their website, and they’ll send you emails when they have deals and offers. This is a really good way to try various coffees and to get some bargains too.
If you sign up for my mailing list “Brew Time” I’ll let you know when I have any deals or offers to give you that roasters have offered to coffeeblog readers. Just enter your name and email address into that form up there, top right :-).
What about other places to buy coffee online other than directly from the roaster?
You can, of course, buy coffee beans from large retailers/supermarkets. What you need to keep in mind though is that this isn’t the same as buying directly from roasters. What’s important with speciality coffee is that you enjoy it at its most fresh, both in terms of when it was roasted, and when it was ground.
You want it as close to roast date as possible, as long as it’s had time to degas (gases, mainly carbon dioxide, to escape the bean), and this is what you’ll get when you buy coffee beans directly from a roaster.
When you buy beans from a big retailer, online or offline, you’re not likely to get them anywhere near as fresh. Also, although some speciality coffee beans make their way to supermarkets, the majority of the coffee beans you’ll find on supermarket shelves are NOT speciality coffee beans. They’re commodity beans, often put in a fancy looking packet and using clever imagery and branding, and words like “single origin” and “fair trade” – which usually don’t quite mean what we’re lead to think.
Single origin is a term that can be assigned to any coffee as long as the beans have all come from the same region. Coffee regions are usually pretty huge, and there are cheaper, lesser quality commodity beans available in most regions, so the word “single origin” doesn’t really mean a great deal. If you’re buying ‘Single Origin’ coffee from a supermarket, it’s unlikely to be the same quality single origin coffee that you would buy directly from a roaster.
Fairtrade is a term which leads customers to think that the producer of the goods have been fairly compensated. The issue I have with Fair Trade though, is that most of the speciality coffee beans on the market are priced substantially higher than the fair trade minimum price, and from what I can gather, the increased revenue that comes to retailers from using the fair trade label, benefits only the retailer & not the farmer.
What about Amazon?
I buy loads, and loads of stuff from Amazon, I use Amazon prime (click here for the free 30 day trial) I like prime video, and I like the fact that I can get things super quick, and usually with free delivery, but I’m not convinced that Amazon is the best place to buy coffee beans online.
If it’s fulfilled by Amazon, it means that Amazon are holding that product in stock ready to ship out, and this is more likely to be the case with commodity coffee than it is with speciality beans. Only fulfilled by amazon products are available with prime free next day delivery – so any coffee bought from Amazon via prime, is going to be coffee which Amazon has had in their warehouses, so it’s probably not as fresh as buying direct from the roaster. If it’s not prime, the price is probably going to end up being about the same as buying directly from the roaster, if not more, as Amazon charge a fee – so I don’t see the benefit in buying coffee beans from Amazon. I buy just about everytihng else from Amazon though ;-).
So in a nutshell, the best place to buy coffee beans online in my humble opinion, is directly from UK coffee roasters, either as one off purchases, or as a coffee subscription.
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