There are an increasing number of coffee roasters now in the UK, in fact on my list of UK coffee roasters there are around 400 coffee roasteries, and that number is constantly growing. The subscription model lends itself particularly well to coffee, both from the perspective of the coffee lover and the coffee roaster, so it’s no surprise that there is an increasing number also of coffee subscription services in the UK.
While I can’t propose that I know which is the best coffee subscription service in the UK, as there are many, and I’ve not tried them all – what I can do, is tell you about the coffee subscriptions that I use myself, which are three popular subscriptions which all recently appeared in the Independent’s list of the UK’s best coffee subscriptions (so it’s not just me who highly rate these three firms).
‘Best’, is very much a subjective thing, and it depends on what element of the service you’re talking about, i.e best price, best service, best quality coffee, best website, best variety – so I’ll just tell you what I’ve found with the three coffee subscriptions I’m a customer of, and hopefully this will help you to decide who you want to try. It’s not as if you’re entering into a lifetime contract ;-), you can give a roaster a try, see what you like – if you’re not happy, try another one. This is what is great about the number of coffee roasters and subscription services now in the UK, we have a lot of choice!
My first ever subscription was with Pact coffee. I signed up with them a couple of years ago for coffee beans, and now I have a subscription with them for beans and also for Nespresso compatible pods. Among my three subscriptions, I think where Pact really excel is with the slickness of their website and their online subscription.
It’s such a doddle to sign up, choose what kind of coffee you want (whole beans, ground beans, or pods – and if ground, for what brewing method), choose how often you want to receive coffee, choose whether you want to decide on what coffee to receive each time or let them pick for you – and then off you go. There are no tie-ins, you can change the delivery schedule whenever you like, they only bill you when they dispatch, and you can easily pause your subscription or cancel, it’s all very simple and easy to do.
They’re clearly a very well organised operation, if I ever email their support about anything, they reply very quickly and very professionally, they’re always super friendly, they seem to have the ethos that the customer is always right, and it’s clear that they place a very high value on customer satisfaction. For example, I once contacted them to say my coffee hadn’t arrived, instead of doing what many firms would probably do in that situation, and tell me to just wait a couple of days and see if it turns up – they sent me another bag immediately – and I then ended up with two bags!
I emailed them to let them know I’d ended up with two, and to bill me for the other, and they replied that it’s on the house! More recently (just last week), out of a box of 40 pods, there was a slight issue with half a dozen or so of them, I only emailed them to make them aware – and they sent me an entire box of 40 to apologise! By the way, my subscription is on a different email address so the Pact Coffee support staff who were dealing with this wouldn’t have known that I’m a blogger, so it’s not a case of giving me special treatment for good PR.
By the way, Pact offer coffeeblog readers £5 off their first bag, click here for the offer, or enter the code PACTBLOG into the voucher box at checkout.
Blue Coffee Box
My newest coffee subscription is with Blue Coffee Box, who’re quite a bit different from all the above, in that they’re a multi-roaster subscription service, rather than being a roaster themselves.
What this subscription model offers the coffee lover above all, is variety. One roaster can only send you whatever they’re roasting each month, so the standard subscription is perfect for making sure you don’t run out of your favourite coffee, and of course there’s some element of variety with roaster subscriptions too, but with a multi-roaster subscription you generally have a much wider variety to discover.
With different UK roasters working with different coffee beans from different farms, different origins, different varietals and different processes, the multi-roaster coffee subscription idea offers us coffee lovers the chance to experience a wide variety of the world’s best coffees.
Blue Coffee Box work with some of the UK’s leading coffee roasters, including Horsham, North Star, Artisan Roast, Heart & Graft, Pharmacie, Cast Iron, Clifton, Round Hill & Crankhouse, and their monthly box (cleverly made to ensure it fits through the letterbox!) contains three 155g bags of coffee.
In my first box (which I received a couple of days after signing up), I got an Indian natural processed coffee called PB Yagachi Reserve, farmed at an altitude of 1400m, medium/dark roast by The Coffee Factory in Axminster, Devon. An Ethiopian natural processed heirloom called Guji Shakiso, farmed at an altitude of 1900-2100m, light/medium roast also by The Coffee Factory, and a Rwandan fully washed Red Bourbon called Kageyo, farmed at an altitude of 1700m, and roasted by Artisan Roast in Edinburgh.
Blue Coffee Box are not attempting to be a “coffee supplier” as such, they’re aiming to take their customers on a voyage of coffee discovery, by introducing them to different tastes from different origins, different varietals and different roasters. This is why I signed up for their subscription, I have other subscriptions, I don’t need another “supplier” as such, but I want to explore and discover a wide range of coffee from a wide range of origins and roasters, and a subscription like this is designed exactly for that.
Their website is very simple to use, and their options are brilliant – you can choose to buy the subscription for yourself or as a gift, you can choose whole beans, or ground for a particular brew method, you can then choose your prefered roast, or select to let them surprise you (which I chose as I like to try different roasts), you can even choose Decaf if you like, each to their own ;-). You’re not tied in, you can pause or cancel your subscription at any time by logging into your account panel, where you can also change all of your preferences.
If you fancy giving Blue Coffee Box a try – they’re currently offering a very nice £9 discount off your first coffee box, to coffeeblog readers! Just use the discount code: CB999 at bluecoffeebox.com
Django Coffee Co
I very much enjoyed all of the coffee I received from them, and I’d say where Django rank very highly, in particular, is the different approach that they brought to subscriptions. Django offer subscriptions that are purchased in advance. So you can sign up for example, for a one-month subscription, pay for it at the time of signing up, receive one quarter kilo bag of freshly roasted coffee per week (a different coffee each week), and then at the end of the month when you’re running low, if you choose to, you can log in and order another subscription.
They offer a one month weekly subscription, a three month fortnightly subscription, a three month weekly subscription, and they also now offer a rolling weekly, fortnightly, three weekly or monthly subscription, and also an office subscription. The rolling subscription also gives the option of different bag sizes, 1 x 250g, 2 x 250g, 1 x 500g, 2 x 500g or 1 x 1kg. They also sell directly via their website, so if you just want to buy a bag of coffee without any subscription, that’s no problem. They sell a sample pack of 100g of four different coffees for £9.95 which I think is a good option, also a nice idea as a gift.
They’re obviously doing well, as they’ve just installed a new roaster to increase their production capability.
See my Django Coffee Co review.
Has Bean / In My Mug
I have the weekly “In My Mug” subscription from Has Bean, I get a fresh bag of coffee from them every Saturday – I’ve always liked Saturday’s, who doesn’t? But I’ve liked them a lot more since signing up for the In My Mug coffee subscription!
As one of the leading coffee roasters in the UK, Has Bean requires very little introduction to anyone who’s involved in the coffee industry. Steve Leighton started his business in the late 90s, with humble beginnings, selling freshly roasted coffee on a market stall in Stafford, which was very shortlived due to his realization that most consumers at the time didn’t actually know what to do with fresh coffee.
He came to the conclusion that people needed educating about freshly brewed coffee before they would buy it, and he moved into a small shop in Stafford on a shoestring, with the idea of brewing coffee for people, and using the quality of the coffee to educate them on the benefit of brewing fresh coffee. This concept of educating and selling going hand in hand really paid off after several years of slogging away, Steve was surprised by an invite to become a Cup of Excellence program judge in 2005, and later became the SCAE UK (Specialty Coffee Association of Europe) National Coordinator.
Has bean took the web by storm when it comes to supplying coffee online, partly due to being an early adopter – being one of the first roasters to be selling online direct to the public, but probably more so to the work Steve continued to do, and continues to do today in terms of educating customers – rather than purely selling, and this is where I think hasbean is best, when it comes to not just the coffee, but the education that they also provide about the coffee they’re supplying, and about coffee in general. Just watch the latest episode of In My Mug, and you’ll see what I mean!
The Has Bean website is packed full of guides and resources, and the In My Mug video series is fantastic. Steve discusses the coffee each week that subscription customers will be receiving through the mail, explaining in detail about the farm who produce the coffee, how it’s processed and how it tastes. In fact I think it’s fair to say that my number one source for increasing my knowledge about coffee over the past couple of years, has been Steve’s videos. He’s done 479 of them so far, which is incredible!
Life is like a box of chocolates, so follow me on Twitter, and that’s all I have to say about that.