Not all coffee subscriptions are created equal. Whenever you subscribe to a different coffee, you’re dealing with a different company, different policies, and different people behind the product. So take the following features into consideration when you’re considering a coffee subscription. Keep in mind that this is all about you, your tastes, and your preferences, so there’s no right or wrong answer with these points.
The quality score of the coffee
Specialty coffees have a cupping score, which is a grade that the beans were given at a judging process called cupping. If you want excellent coffee, buy beans that scored extremely well during cupping. To give you an idea of what to look for, any score from 80-100 is considered specialty coffee, and only around 5% of coffee beans in the world reach this level. Scores from 90-100 are outstanding. So if you really want to spoil yourself, look for a subscription that sends you coffees from the highest cupping scores (and be prepared to pay more for the experience).
Ability to pause your subscription
It’s a good idea to verify whether you’re able to pause your subscription before signing up for anything. You never know when you might want to travel or take a break.
Ability to give the subscription as a gift
Sharing your passion with someone you care about is amazing. Some companies make their subscriptions giftable, allowing you to share the gift of extraordinary coffee with another person. For the coffee lover on your gift list who is hard to buy gifts for, a specialty coffee subscription could be their favorite present ever.
The cancellation policy and any contracts or minimum time commitments
Be aware of any commitments that you’re making when you sign up for a subscription. Common subscription time frames are 3, 6, 9, or 12-month commitments.
You may get a better deal if you commit to subscribing for a longer period of time, but then there’s a risk to you if you end up having to stick to a plan you do not really like.
A good compromise, if you’re not sure if you will be delighted, is to start with a shorter subscription for a slightly higher price, and once you’ve had a chance to try it, then buy a longer subscription for a better price.
Some companies have a “cancel any time” policy, but some do not. If your subscription has a time commitment, it may be hard to cancel early. It’s a good idea to find out the rules ahead of time so that you can avoid any unpleasant surprises.
Any time you’re trying a new product, there’s a chance you might not be satisfied. But from the point of view of the roaster, they’re sending you a perishable food product that they can’t reuse if you send it back. So different companies will handle their guarantee differently. It’s a good idea to inform yourself about a company’s guarantee of freshness, quality, and/or customer satisfaction before signing up.