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  • Tom

What if a subscription wasn't subscribable?

I've had more time than ever in this surreal world to ponder more on the "what if" questions that often pop into my head, maybe this theme will continue throughout the blog posts, probably not. This time I'm looking at coffee subscriptions.

To first cover "what is a coffee subscription" for those of you that may find this something new. In essence a coffee subscription is a regular delivery of coffee, usually to your home or office on a fixed time. They come in a huge variety, but can mostly be split into 2 groups:

The single roaster subscription - You purchase direct from your favourite roaster. The coffee could be the same coffee each delivery, a rotation from their range, or a different coffee each time. Advantages of taking regular subscriptions directly with a roaster include delving more into their culture and really getting to know them, having a consistent coffee and zeroing your focus into 1 roasters style. It's kind of like having your favorite local cafe - You know you like them and you enjoy going back on a regular basis. You know that all the money you spend goes direct to the roaster and you will be able to really dial in on brewing the coffee. If you have a subscription with a roaster already I would encourage you to keep it, especially at this time.

The multi roaster subscription - You have coffee delivered every week / fortnight / month from a third party who will select coffee from a wide selection of roasters. This can be a great way to try coffee from a roaster you may not have come across before and is also a good way for roasters to access the kitchens of more people that are on the hunt for amazing coffee. Some multi roaster subscriptions also ask for your preferred taste profiles and then match coffees to you.

So why am I writing about this?

Well, over the last few weeks I have been developing a tasting box. To begin with I was calling it a subscription, but it's not. I am not looking for anyone to subscribe long term. The idea is you can buy a tasting box once, or just a few times.

It started because I like a variety of coffee, like a real variety. Ideally I'll have a couple of different coffees in a day, but I also don't like to open a new bag when I have 1 open. I've often swapped coffees, or just given open bags to local friends & family and it used to be common to have people round for coffee, but of course that has stopped.

Coupled with that, I've wanted to support more roasters, so I'm buying more coffee than I have before. I found myself at the start of the lock-down drinking the same coffee over 2-3 days, or longer sometimes and also opening multiple bags. I decided a way to share the coffee I'm drinking would be to send out 50g to a few people in April, it was well received and allowed me to have 6 coffees open over the Easter weekend.

So the tasting box was born. April was 100% free, I bought the coffee from roasters and posted it out to a few people. This month (May) I have listed a tasting box to buy - to be very clear, the coffee is all bought from roasters through their webshops - I've not asked for a wholesale discount as part of the reason for doing this was to support roasters. I'll take orders up to the 10th May and then order at least 6 coffees from 6 different roasters. By the 20th May I'll start sending them all out, so we all get a great selection of coffee to enjoy over May Bank Holiday weekend.

The main differences from multi roaster subscriptions are:

  • The size of the packs - 50g beans is standard, but if pre-ground then I've got 2 options with the idea being that you brew a full pack once you open it.

  • All the coffees sent out will be available to buy in bigger packs after receiving them either direct from the roaster or from the Bean drinking shop. If you buy from the Kallisti Coffee Shop the delivery will be included and you can order a few coffees from different roasters.

  • This is a one off purchase, with no tie in for the next month.

  • The roasters have used the Algrano Platform to purchase coffee, though this may not be the specific coffee that is listed due to harvest times and what the roaster has available, for many coffees I will have been involved from the green sourcing though to sending the coffee out to you.

So what's next?

The idea is that I'll list the coffees and the roasters for when you open the coffees over the Bank Holiday weekend as well as putting on boxes for June, July and August. Anyone buying a tasting box will never get the same coffee that has either been in a previous box, or that has been ordered in a larger bag. You will also not get the same roaster more than twice in a 4 month period.

From June there will of course need to be more than 6 coffees and some people will get different coffees to others based on what you have had delivered in the past. Ideally, each month you get a tasting box, when it arrives you select the coffees you like best and order these along with a tasting box for the next month. Then each month you have coffee(s) you can drink as your "house coffee" and also a selection of new coffees to try. If you see a coffee on the list that you specifically want to buy, of course you can order that one and it just won't be in any future tasting boxes. If there is anything you love or hate, let me know and any future boxes you order will have selections based on your personal preferences.

I'll do this for June, July and August and for now that is where it will end* with a delivery for August Bank Holiday weekend. At this point if you have taken 4 boxes, the tasting range should have covered most of the roasters on the roasters map from the UK and you will be able to buy the coffee(s) you like best directly from the roasters.

The first box you buy will have a couple of extra bits in there, don't expect these every time but feel free to share on social media as everything in the box will be available in the the Bean drinking shop.

Hope that makes sense - If you want to know more, feel free to drop me a mail or message me through Instagram. Or just buy a tasting box.

Stay safe!


*Disclaimer - If I enjoy doing this and you love the service I could well keep it going. I'm not ruling it out right now and by September there will be more coffees landed in the country and more roasters to work with. Let's see how we get on over the summer.

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