I’m a fan of coffee subscription services, I think they really work – both for the roaster and for the customer. All the subscriptions I’m currently a customer of, are roasters themselves. There’s another coffee subscription model, though, which is the multi-roaster subscription.
This is where a third party delivers coffee to their customers from various coffee roasters. This kind of subscription is less about just ensuring you don’t run out of your favourite coffee, and is more about exploration and discovery. A business like this can bring you coffee from lots of different roasters, from different origins, and can really help to broaden your horizons by allowing you to taste a wider variety of coffees.
One such coffee subscription service is Blue Coffee Box. These guys work with some of the country’s very best roasters, including (at the time of writing) Horsham, North Star, Artisan Roast, Heart & Graft, Pharmacie, Cast Iron, Clifton, Round Hill & Crankhouse.
Each month they send out very nicely packed box of three 155g bags of different coffee, with very informative info cards so you know everything about the coffee you’re tasting. This isn’t a case of getting whatever you’re sent – with BCB you have choice, including whether you want beans or pre-ground for a specific brewer, and even what kind of roast you prefer – and you don’t have to wait until a specific date in the month to get your first box either, it’s sent to you shortly after signing up.
I decided to sign up to Blue Coffee Box, because I liked the range of roasters they were working with, and their website was so easy to use, and the choices were so good, that before I knew it I was on the sign up page ;-).
Unfortunately, I didn’t have a discount voucher to use, so I signed up at the full cost – but they have very kindly offered a voucher for coffeeblog readers, for £9 off your first box, not bad eh? I’ll give you the code shortly.
The Website & Signup Process
I found the website very nice to look at, and more importantly, very simple to use. With one click of the “Get Started” button, I was into the signup process.
The first option is to choose the subscription, bag or box. I have to say I’m not sure I see the need for this choice, as I think the main value BCB are offering is the variety that their three bag box provides, but anyway, I selected the box option – and something that really pleased me, is the page then scrolled by itself to the next option, haha, love that – small things amuse small minds, they say, whoever they are…
Next option is to select whether this is for me or as a coffee subscription gift – I like that option, and if you hover your mouse over this option (as I did just to see what happens), a note pops up to mention that they’ll add a gift card if required, if you put the details in the “gift message” field at checkout.
Next, the page scrolls again to as you how you want your coffee, beans or ground for Cafetiere, drip or Espresso. Obviously I would always recommend that you grind your own, as the best coffee is brewed using freshly ground freshly roasted coffee.
Next, you get to choose what kind of roast you prefer, or to tell them to surprise you. I chose the option to surprise me, as I like to try a wide range of coffee including a wide range of roasts, I tend to prefer medium roasts but remember this subscription is about discovery, so I don’t think sticking in your usual comfort zone makes sense really.
Then, if you really want to – you can select Decaf ;-). Joking apart, I do realise that there are people who need to drink Decaf, and it wouldn’t actually harm me to have a Decaf subscription to be honest, for when I feel like a coffee later in the day. I usually stop drinking coffee in the late afternoon, I have the urge to drink it later in the day but I know if I do I’ll usually struggle sleeping – which isn’t me at all, usually I’m snoozing the second my head hits the pillow.
Next, it’s the payment plan options. If you pay monthly, it’s £16.99 per month (£7.99 for you for month 1 if you use the code I’ll give you in a minute), £15.99 per month if you pay three months in advance (with the coupon you’ll pay £38.97 so it works out at £12.99 per month), or £14.99 per month if you pay for 6 months in advance (again, with the coupon you’ll save £9 so this works out at £13.49 per month). I went for the quarterly option, but you can change your plan in the future, so if you just want to sign up for the monthly, and then switch to paying quarterly or biannually in the future once you’ve decided to stick with the subscription, you can.
Pausing, Cancelling & Changing Your Subscription
Something I always look at when I’m thinking about signing up for anything, is how easy it is to pause or cancel altogether if I decide to for whatever reason. I don’t want to have to jump through hoops, or to have to phone someone and explain why I’m cancelling – I just want to be able to logon to the website and click a link.
So shortly after signing up, I logged in to my account – and there’s an “Edit” button, under “Your Subscriptions” – I clicked that link, and here – not only can you click “skip next renewal” – there’s a big, very obvious icon which says “Cancel Subscription” – so they don’t make it difficult at all.
Also on this page, as I mentioned above, you can change the subscription term if you want to save a bit of money by paying three months or 6 months in advance, also you can change all of your other choices on this page.
I’m not reviewing the courier service here, as the company can’t control the courier – but what I can review is the way they have designed things to make sure that the box gets delivered each time.
Their choice of bag weights, and the way the box is made, is all specifically to ensure that they can sent the box out via Royal Mail, and that it will go through the letterbox. This is such an important thing if you work in the day, as getting home to a card through your door telling you that you need to go and collect something from a collection point or local sorting office, is such a pain.
Our “local” sorting office isn’t particularly local – and is a pain to get to thanks to local major roadworks that were supposed to have been finished months back – and it doesn’t help that it’s only open until 1pm. You don’t want your coffee sitting going stale for days in a sorting office, so it’s important that you get it when it’s delivered.
The box came a couple of days after signing up (as it happened, I think this was the next working day), it had been delivered while I was out, and it had simply been pushed through the letterbox, which is great. I get a lot of coffee sent to me, and often it doesn’t fit through the letterbox – sometimes it ends up with neighbours, which is fine but I always feel guilty for having to go round and disturb them by asking for yet another parcel they’ve signed for on my behalf, and more often than not there’s a card through, which is always a pain.
The funniest thing that has happened so far with a delivery, by the way, is that myhermes left a parcel literally just on the doorstep, I can’t remember what it was, but it would have been something coffee related, it nearly always is ;-). I had to step over the parcel to open the door, and on walking through the door, I found the card that the driver had put through, with a message “on door step”, hmm, really? 😉
It’s £14.99 – £16.99 (depending on payment frequency) for 3 x 155g bags, and this includes delivery. So this works out at the equivalent of £8.06-£9.13 per 250g. When I’ve looked at the average direct from roaster price, at the roasters they work with, it ranges from around £7.50-£9.50 per 250g bag, so I think this price is about right, I don’t feel at all ripped off. You have to keep in mind that there is a cost for putting a package like this together for us, there’s a cost for delivery, and of course the business has to make a margin too, so all in all I’m quite happy with this price, given that the point of the subscription is about discovering different coffees.
I’ll update this over time, I’ve only had one monthly coffee box delivered so far, but I was very impressed. The packaging etc., is all very nice – the bags are very easy to open and to re-seal, and the info cards are really informative, lots of info, all the important stuff, varietal, process, producer, region, altitude and taste notes.
So far, I’ve had:
Origin: Ethiopia, Shakiso district, Guji zone, Oromia
Producer: Shakiso Dry Mill
Altitude: 1900 – 2100 masl
Roaster: The Coffee Factory in Axminster, Devon
Taste: Guava, mango, peaches and cream.
My comments: I really enjoyed this one. Fruity. I got more strawberries and cream than peaches and cream, which is great as I love strawberries. It has a creamy mouthfeel, and floral notes. I like it…
PB Yagachi Reserve
Origin: Karnataka, India
Varietal: S.9795, Kents & Cauvery.
Producer: Ramagiri/Krishnagiri and Kumbrikhan Farms.
Altitude: 1400 masl
Process: Fully Washed
Roaster: The Coffee Factory in Axminster, Devon
Taste: Spice, cacoa nibs, cream
Ooh – bitter cocoa. This is a spicey coffee, with a really strong taste (for me) of bitter, dark cocoa. I’m not sure about cacoa nibs, I’ve not tasted them – but if they taste like cocoa without sugar, then yes I’d agree with that. Again, I like it!
Varietal: Red Bourbon
Producer: Rwanda Trading Company (from farms local to the Kageyo washing station).
Altitude: 1700 masl
Process: Fully Washed
Roaster: Artisan Roast in Edinburgh.
Taste: Chocolate, Pineapple, Plum
I get milk chocolate from this, definitely, possibly dates too, and cherry. It’s a very enjoyable coffee
I’ll add to this next month when I get my next coffee box from them.
Your £9 Discount Voucher
As I mentioned earlier, Blue Box Coffee are offering an introductory offer to coffeeblog readers, giving you £9 off your first box. I don’t know how long this will be available for, but I’ll update this post as and when the voucher is no longer available – if you still see this voucher, then it’s still live – either that or It’s ended and I’ve forgotten to take it off ;-), in which case please let me know.
Your discount code is CB999 – just enter this into the voucher code box at bluecoffeebox.com.
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