I’m asked from time to time to join in on this new trend in coffee subscription services. I get several phone calls and emails a month and I try to be nice and listen to what they have to say. It’s a flaw that I’m working on. Then the guy on the other end of the line gets to the most crucial part of why I will not participate in their service. They rebag the coffee. When it comes to coffee, just about every coffee geek will tell you, it’s all about the roast date. Coffee is a perishable item, meaning the flavors will degrade the older it is. Now, you might not think repackaging the coffee is a big deal if its fresh. Well, what if I told you that oxygen will make the coffee spoil faster? Would that be a little bit bigger deal? And when you are talking about coffee costing $2-3/oz, I think it matters a whole lot more.
Once you break the seal on that bag the roaster sealed, you are letting out all of the protective gases that reside within. After the coffee is roasted, it begins to degass and release CO2 which will replace the remaining oxygen in the bag helping the coffee to stay fresh longer. The whole reason why we have the small valve on the front of the bags is so that the gasses can escape without the bag exploding at the same time not letting oxygen back in. So when someone tells me that they want me to roast the coffee, ship it across country, just to have someone open it, repackage it, then resell it to their customer after being exposed to the all the things that I listed above, I just don’t like it. Especially when it has my brand associated with it.
I don’t want to downplay the benefits of a subscription service like what they are offering, if it were to be done the right way. These services can help you explore the coffee world a lot faster than if you were to seek out roasters and try their coffees one by one. Many services will screen the coffees before they are offered, ensuring the best coffees for their subscribers. I do know of one that was started by a guy who doesn’t even like coffee, though, which I find troubling.
So, what’s my solution to this problem? Well, I’ll tell you. It’s so simple that even a non coffee drinker can do it. Screen your roasters and pick their offerings. Have your subscriptions packaging printed and shipped to the roaster. Have the roaster package and ship the coffee to the designated list of subscribers or back to your headquarters to be divided up and shipped out. I can see advantages to both methods but ultimately, either method you use, your customer will be getting the freshest coffee, the way that it’s supposed to taste.
Just my 2 cents………