Here is a morning tragedy of Greek epic proportions: Fighting off the siren song of a warm bed, a sleep-addled sailor reaches for his bag of coffee beans to lead him from the depths of sleep to the bright-eyed shores of wakefulness—only to find it barren. He is dismayed, betrayed by his own forgetfulness. He is Odysseus with his empty bag of winds. He is all of us.
Cue the coffee subscription, a weekly (or bi-weekly, or monthly, depending on your personal level of guzzle-ry) guarantee that freshly roasted coffee is always present in your cupboard. These services come from a range of roasters, but they all share a commitment to shipping carefully sourced, high-quality beans to your doorstep immediately after roasting. Sign up and save yourself from ever experiencing this torment again, or gift one to a friend who might be particularly prone to the struggle.
The only problem is deciding which subscription to choose; here are five worth seeking out.
12 oz. bags start at $15, US shipping included
Vega is a relatively new Kickstarter-funded operation, and part of their mission is to put the roasting in the hands of the farmers, which is why their HQ is nestled in the heart of Nicaragua’s greatest coffee farmlands. After training local farmers (many of whom already know a thing or two about roasting coffee) in processing and quality control, they help arrange shipments to consumers in the US every two or four weeks, depending on your needs.
Cutting out the middleman puts more money in the pockets of the farmers, and gives the coffee drinker at home some peace of mind knowing that their coffee, available in light, medium, and dark roasts, was prepared and sent off by those individuals that know it best. You can have them grind the beans for you to your favorite brewer’s specs, but to maximize freshness it’s best to grind whole beans right before brewing.
12 oz. bags start at $14.75, plus $3 flat-rate US shipping
Ever since their inception in 1995, Counter Culture has been obsessed with every detail of the coffee process, from forging intimate relationships with growers across the globe to educating coffee-lovers on coffee technique. Their website also offers annual “transparency reports,” where you can track the details on their costs, purchases, and farmers country by country.
For their subscriptions, you can choose from a variety of their expertly crafted blends, or splurge on their single-origin subscription, where you’ll receive two unique seasonal varieties every one, two, three, or four weeks. I recommend the Apollo, a floral and citrusy blend of Ethiopian beans, perfect for daily drinking.
11 oz. bags start at $16, US shipping included
Call it the Pandora of coffee. Driftway starts you out with samples of four of their single-origin coffees, and then have you track your comments on each with the help of an app. Once they get a sense of the beans you like, they source and ship you coffee catered to your tastes, allowing you to try new seasonal varieties without the worry of wasting your time on coffee that just doesn’t jive with your morning routine. Adjust the frequency and the size of your shipment as you please, and you can save 15% by paying for a few months at a time.
12 oz. bags start at $19, US shipping included
This Oakland-based industry powerhouse began in 2002 and now has cafés all over the country where baristas pour impeccable cups to order. (CEO James Freeman ensures that no coffee served in their cafés comes from beans more than 48 hours out of the roaster.)
These exacting standards are present also in their subscription service, where you can arrange for everything from half a bag to three 12-ounce bags delivered every one, two, three, or four weeks, while also choosing from the blends and single-origin beans they serve in their cafés: They’ll hook you up with a different blend or bean each shipment. The chocolaty, blueberry-esque Three Africans blend (two Ethiopian varietals and one Congolese) is my long-term favorite. Those who remain suspect can take advantage of their trial period and try a cup for free at home.
12 oz. bags start at $16, US shipping included
Stumptown Coffee Roasters has been around since 1999 when their Portland shop first opened, but they’ve since earned a name for themselves across the country. The Stumptown Green Team (as they’re called) goes straight to the source for great coffee and buys everything directly from the growers; their producers across the world are all highlighted on their website.
You can choose your favorite blend if you have one, or pick “Roaster’s Choice” to have them send you the seasonal best of their heirloom single-origin beans, choosing the right quantity for you to arrive every two weeks. Shipments are sent out on Mondays, right after the beans are roasted, so they’re as fresh as humanly possible. Their flagship Hair Bender blend features Indonesian, East African, and Latin American beans, and hits the spot with notes of cherry and toffee.