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Saturday, April 13, 2024

The 6 Best Coffee Delivery Subscription Boxes (2021)

A cup of coffee in the morning is not just about the caffeine (though that's important too). It's the ritual that starts the day. There's the sound of beans grinding, the toasted smell of brewing coffee—even waiting for your brew to finish is a part of the fun. If you're nodding along with me right now, you might like a coffee subscription box.

After testing the services below for the last six months, I've found that there's no major way to go wrong with these coffee subscriptions. They all offer great coffee and mail it to you at a regular cadence. That said, there are some important differences. Certain services may deliver more what you're looking for than others. Below, we've listed what I like and dislike about each.

We really like coffee here on the Gear team. Be sure to also read our guides to the best coffee grinders, the best portable coffee makers, best portable espresso makers, and best cold brew coffee makers for our favorite brewing tools. Also have a read through our guide to making better coffee at home for more tips.

Special offer for Gear readers: Get a 1-year subscription to WIRED for $5 ($25 off). This includes unlimited access to WIRED.com and our print magazine (if you'd like). Subscriptions help fund the work we do every day.

Best for VarietyTrade Coffee

Trade Coffee's specialty is bringing coffee from small roasters to the larger world. The company doesn't roast its own beans; it partners with roasters and makes it simple for you to get beans from boutique roasters around the US.

Trade Coffee has everything you want from a coffee subscription, including a simple questionnaire to help match your tastes to its coffees, and a helpful website to browse new coffee and make notes about coffees you like (or don't). Trade's selection is huge, too. At the time of writing there are more than 400 possibilities to chose from (this is why the smart questionnaire is so helpful), and the selection is split pretty evenly between blends and single-origin options. While I was testing this summer, Trade rolled out a new decaf option, which makes it one of the few services to offer a decaf subscription.

I haven't gotten anything I didn't like in some way, but my fellow Gear team coffee lover Matt Jancer did get a bag he wasn't fond of. Trade quickly swapped it out for something new.

Trade Coffee subscriptions cost about $12 for a 12 ounce bag. You can get deliveries every 1, 2, 3, 4, or 6 weeks.

Best for Exploring Single-Origin BeansAtlas

Atlas delivers great single-origin beans from all over the world. Unlike Trade Coffee, it roasts those beans itself in Austin, Texas, and gets them to your door shortly thereafter. The subscription options are also simpler than Trade. You can choose between light-to-medium or medium-to-dark roasts—or if you feel like exploring, choose both. I did the latter and have now sampled beans from six countries. Each arrived on time, nicely packaged, complete with some notes about the country of origin.

You may get beans you aren't as fond of because Atlas is a more exploratory experience. To me, this is part of the fun, but if you're looking for a subscription that's very dialed-in and exactly matches your tastes, this may not be the best choice. That said, I have yet to encounter a coffee I thought was "bad," even things I am not fond of, like a medium roast Guatemalan, were still excellent quality beans and well roasted.

Atlas subscriptions cost $14 for a 12 ounce bag. There's an option to get a half bag (6 oz) for $9. You can get deliveries every 2 or 4 weeks.

Best for Animal Lovers (Yep)Grounds and Hounds

Grounds and Hounds offers small batch roasted blends and single origin coffee with 20 percent of profits going to benefit animal shelters. Grounds and Hounds coffee has some of my personal favorite coffees, especially the dark roasts. (Try the Snow Day Winter Roast when it's available.)

There are two kinds of subscription at Grounds and Hounds, a traditional subscription where you pick what you'd like to try, and a gift subscription, if you're buying for someone else. I tested the former, opting for whole bean (ground and single serve pods are also options), and its "Roaster's Select" beans, which let me sample a few different varieties. As soon as I found what I liked, I switched my subscription to that bean.

When you sign up, Grounds and Hounds will let you know how your money is helping animal shelters. In the case of a single bag, weekly subscription you'd be providing 800 meals per year to shelters.

Grounds and Hounds coffee subscriptions start at $15 for a 12 ounce bag. You can get deliveries every 1, 2, 4, or 8 weeks. I suggest picking a smaller amount of coffee delivered more frequently to ensure you have fresh coffee on hand.

Best for Blind Taste TestingAngel's Cup

Angel's Cup has my favorite twist of all the coffee subscriptions I've tried: It's blind taste testing. Every time a coffee arrives, it's in an unmarked black bag. After you've decided whether you like a coffee or not, you can look it up in the Angel's Cup app. Only then do you know what you're drinking. It's a good way to see what you really like, without your preconceived notions getting in the way.

Angel's Cup is more like a distance-learning coffee school than a straight box subscription service. I strongly recommend giving the Black Box subscription a try. You will learn what you actually like and dislike about coffee, along with some education through the app, roaster's notes, and notes from fellow tasters.

Angel's Cup Black Box subscription costs $20 a box. You can get deliveries every 1, 2, 3, or 4 weeks.

Best for the Fastest, Freshest DeliveryBlue Bottle

Blue Bottle is the first online coffee subscription box I remember trying out, and the one I have the longest experience with. It is still one of the best subscriptions around, though its selection of coffees is not as extensive as some of the newcomers. Where Blue Bottle stands out is freshness, the company promises to ship your coffee within 24 hours of roasting.

Blue Bottle has a 10-question survey that it uses to pair you with coffee you'll love. It's asks about more than just coffee, with questions about your favorite chocolate and even salad dressing, which it uses to pair you with coffees you'll like. It might seem odd, but it works. I got excellent pairings that were among the best coffee I tried for this guide.

Blue Bottle subscriptions cost $18 for a 12 ounce bag ($11 for a 6 oz bag). You can can get deliveries every 1, 2, 3, or 4 weeks.

Best for GiftingMistobox

Like the other subscriptions here, Mistobox has you fill out a short survey and suggests coffee suited to your tastes. There are three "tiers" available: basic, deluxe, and exclusive. As you move up the tiers, the price increases and amount of beans decreases. The top "exclusive" tier has "micro-lot" single origin beans for $20 or more a bag.

With more than 500 coffees from 50+ roasters, Mistobox makes a good gift subscription, especially if you don't know what kind of coffee to get someone. Somewhere in those 500 choices, your coffee fanatic should find something that will make them happy.

Mistobox starts at $12 for a 12 ounce bag. You can get deliveries every 1, 2, 3, or 4 weeks.

Great Coffee for Reducing HeartburnTrücup

OK, you got me. Trücup doesn't actually have a subscription service and shouldn't really be on this list. But it's also missing something else: acid. The low acid content of Trücup makes it a great option for coffee lovers with sensitive stomachs who suffer from GERD or heartburn. I am not a doctor, so if you've been diagnosed with GERD make sure you talk to yours before you try Trücup.

Trücup is still worth your time, even if you're fortunate enough to have a stomach that can handle normal coffee. It's a mellow coffee and my top pick for drinking in the afternoon and evenings, as it's easier on the stomach.

Trücup prices start at $13 for a 12 ounce bag. Again, there is no way to subscribe, but you can order grounds or biodegradable single serve pods to your door.

How to Get More From a Subscription

To test these subscriptions, I brewed each bag in different ways to see which beans were best suited to which brewing method. It's worth doing the same if you have access to different ways to brew, especially if you opt for a subscription that offers a lot of variety. A roast that makes a great shot of espresso does not necessarily make the best pour-over coffee.

In the same vein, take notes on what you like and dislike. Several of these services have very nice websites where you can record your notes and mark particular coffees you liked. Take advantage of these features because you will probably forget. The coffee never stops coming with these subscriptions, which is both a blessing and curse.

If you'd like some more pointers, be sure to read our guide to brewing better coffee at home.

Special offer for Gear readers: Get a 1-Year Subscription to WIRED for $5 ($25 off). This includes unlimited access to WIRED.com and our print magazine (if you'd like). Subscriptions help fund the work we do every day.

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