Delivery options: Two or four weeks
Best for blind taste tests
Of all the coffee subscriptions we’ve tried, Angel’s Cup has my favorite twist: blind taste tests. Every time coffee comes, it comes in an unmarked black bag. After you’ve decided whether you like a cup of coffee or not, you can look it up in the Angel’s Cup app – then you’ll find out what you’re drinking. It’s a good way to see what you really like without prejudice.
Angel’s Cup is more of a remote coffee school than a box subscription service. WIRED senior reviewer Scott Gilbertson highly recommends giving the Black Box subscription a try. You’ll learn what you like and don’t like about coffee, along with some in-app education, notes from the roaster, and notes from fellow tasters.
Delivery options: one, two, three or four weeks
The best for the fastest, freshest delivery
Blue Bottle is one of the older coffee subscriptions. It’s still great, although the selection isn’t 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. The questions aren’t just about coffee; they ask for your favorite chocolate and even salad dressing. It may seem strange, but it works. WIRED senior reviewer Scott Gilbertson got excellent pairings that were among the best coffees he’s tried for this guide. Blue Bottle also has a decaffeinated option.
Delivery options: one, two, three or four weeks
The best for animal lovers (yeah)
Grounds and Hounds offers small-batch roasted blends and single-origin coffees, with 20 percent of profits benefiting animal shelters. The brand has some of my personal favorite coffees, especially the dark roast. (Try the Snow Day Winter Roast when it’s available.)
There are two types of plans at Grounds and Hounds: a traditional plan where you choose what you want to try, and a gift plan when you buy something for someone else. We tested the former, opting for whole beans (ground and single-serve pods are also options), and the “Roaster’s Select” beans, which allowed us to sample a few different varieties. Once we found what we liked, we switched the 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, a weekly subscription provides about 800 meals per year for shelters.
Delivery options: one, two, four or eight weeks
Great coffee to reduce heartburn
Trücup is not a traditional subscription service and really shouldn’t be on this list. But it has a very low acidity. That makes it a great option for coffee lovers with sensitive stomachs who suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease or heartburn. If you have been diagnosed GERDhowever, talk to your doctor before trying Trücup.
Trücup is worth your time, even if you are lucky enough to have a stomach that can handle regular coffee. It is a top choice to drink in the afternoon and evening because it is gentle and easier on the stomach. You can subscribe at checkout after choosing a bag or making a one-time purchase.
Delivery options: One to 12 weeks
Subscription beans vs. locally roasted beans
These subscription services all produce great coffee beans and they all taste great. But none of them taste better than locally roasted coffee. For the best coffee that has a direct impact on your community, look up local roasters, whether that’s a cafe in the same city, state, or geographic region.
Shortly after roasting, coffee is at its best. The longer it stays on a shelf or on a van, the less flavorful it will be. Plus, ordering coffee locally minimizes the environmental impact of shipping stuff from across the country (or across the continent). The best way to do that is to go to your local coffee shop and see what coffee they serve. (They can even roast and sell their own!)
How we tested and how you should do it?
To test these subscriptions, we brewed each bag in different ways to see which beans went best with which brewing method. It pays to do the same if you have access to different brewing methods, especially if you opt for a subscription that offers a lot of variety. A roast that makes a great espresso isn’t necessarily the best pour-over coffee.
In the same vein, take notes about what you like and don’t like. Several of these services have very nice websites where you can record your notes and mark certain coffees that you liked. Take advantage of these features because you will probably forget about it. The coffee never stops with these subscriptions, which is both a blessing and a curse. If you want some more tips, be sure to read our guide to making better coffee at home.
Let’s Destigmatize Decaf
Coffee aficionados are a fickle bunch, and they tend to baptize people who drink decaf. But here’s the thing: Decaf can be good. Yes, decaffeinating changes the flavor, and yes, you often miss delicate floral notes. It’s unfair to exclude people from enjoying coffee, period, and talking about decaf coffee can be very good too. Drinking caffeinated coffee all day can seriously affect your sleep, and some people can’t tolerate caffeine for medical reasons or just don’t like the way they feel or interact with certain medications.
Coffee is for everyone! There is such a thing as good decaf, and three of our favorite services on this list offer a selection of decaffeinated coffees (Trade, Mistobox, and Cometeer). Even if you’re a caffeine buff, it can be nice to wind down in the evening with a cup of decaf – it’s especially well suited to blended espresso drinks, where typically bold chocolate and smoky notes can really bring a mocha to life. Even in a French press or pour-over context, decaf (or a mix of decaf and caffeinated beans) is a good choice for afternoon coffee. You don’t have to worry about afternoon jitters or insomnia.